Ah, the good old American Dream, in which anyone – man or woman, no matter what age or ethnicity or religion, if talented and determined enough, is able to become a millionaire and live comfortably in the land of the free. But what does it even mean to be a millionaire in a billionaire’s world? And the truth is, the majority of the world’s real wealth is owned by a very small percentage of families, and in America, there’s no exception.
By real wealth, we’re talking about the families that own the banks, families that literally control and distribute the money and things like medicine and oil. The families that own the stores, hotels, and everything else that you can imagine. The ones that literally own everything you want – and need. But, not everyone on this list was just handed everything they have. In fact, a lot of these millionaires – and billionaires – are completely self-made. Some of the largest and most profitable businesses in the world started in someone’s house, or garage. So, let’s take a look at some of the wealthiest people in the country and how it is they got to where they are today.
Net Worth: $4 Billion
Industry: Entertainment, Sports
Notable Member(s): Mark Cuban
Claim to Fame: The Dallas Mavericks
You’ve definitely seen Mark Cuban’s face, whether you realize it or not. The man owns a little bit of everything around Hollywood and throughout the sports world. He is perhaps most well-known for being the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, but there’s a good chance you’ve caught him on an episode of Shark Tank, too – where he sits as one of the main investors.
Cuban also launched his own film production company that he dubbed “2929 Entertainment,” with whom he created Good Night, and Good Luck, the indie film starring George Clooney. The film ultimately ended up being nominated for six Oscars. Other films produced by the company include 2007’s We Own the Night and, in 2014, Serena, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Over the years, Cuban has been both criticized and fined numerous times for his behavior and language towards those he doesn’t agree with, such as several NBA officials.
In 2018, he was ordered to pay the league $600,000 for a statement he made about The Mavericks. He’s also got his own company, broadcast.com, that has reportedly done quite well.
Net Worth: $27 Billion
Notable Member(s): Patty Hearst
Claim to Fame: The Hearst Corporation (ESPN, Lifetime, etc.)
The Empire that is the Hearst Corporation began with William Randolph Hearst in 1887. Today, the family owns ESPN, Lifetime, Cosmopolitan magazine and Good Housekeeping magazine, among many other publications and media outlets. The company fast became known for its use of “yellow journalism,” which meant they didn’t always necessarily do their research, and they instead did what they needed to get eyeballs on their content.
William dabbled in politics and was elected to Congress, twice. He also tried to become both mayor and governor of New York City, but was unsuccessful in his attempts. But even after that, he kept going, he even considered running for president of the United States at one point. He, like many other billionaires, also became known for his extensive collection of rare art and memorabilia, that featured pieces like a Bible that had belonged to Thomas Jefferson.
Hearts passed away in the ’50s, leaving his estate behind to his children, including Hearst Castle, an elaborate and luxurious building concept in California that spans over 40,000 acres. Today, the family still controls a large portion of the media, including hundreds of print and online publications, and multiple television stations.
Net Worth: $400+ Million
Notable Member(s): Jack Nicholson
Claim to Fame: The Shining (Film)
Jack Nicholson can be called both one of the best – and one of the highest-paid – actors in the show business. His work in films like The Shining have earned him three Oscars, among many other nominations, and made him a small fortune of nearly half a billion. But, as much money as he’s made over the years, he’s also made some very questionable decisions about how he manages it. But hey, it’s his money, right?
Perhaps Nicholson’s role as The Joker made him lose a little bit of his mind – at least, for a while anyway. He once bought a house just to destroy it by burning it to the ground. In his defense, the guy who owned it before did say that he was going to fill the pool with electric eels to save money on the power bill, so…he wasn’t the only crazy one to own that piece of real estate. Today, Nicholson is mainly retired from the acting game, but he still enjoys his fair share of royalties. In fact, when he took the role of The Joker, he actually accepted a salary lower than the going rate at the time – because he had it written into his contract that he’d earn a percentage from the film and all of its merchandise, etc. – a move that ended up making him five times what he would have made had he taken the industry standard rate. Nice going, Jack!
Net Worth: $14 Billion
Notable Member(s): Lamar Hunt
Industry: Oil, Hospitality, Sports
Claim to Fame: Hunt Oil The Hunt family spread their wings, so to speak, and pieces of their wealth can be seen around every corner – or on the television screen. H.L Hunt, the original breadwinner of the family, was the basis for a character on Dallas, at one point. The family first got wealthy when H.L started the oil business, but they wouldn’t stop there…
H.L had 15 children, including Ray, who is the C.E.O of Hunt Oil these days, and Caroline, who decided to start an international chain of luxury resorts called “Rosewood.” Caroline would eventually sell the hotels in 2011, but not before opening over 25 of them across the world. W. Herbert was in charge of another oil (and gas) company they owned, named Petro-Hunt, but that business was also sold. Lamar, another one of H. L’s children, was actually responsible for naming The Super Bowl as it is known today. Lamar did quite well for himself in the world of sports and owned part of many teams, including The Kansas City Chiefs. As you can see, the family has a hold on multiple aspects of the Western world.
Net Worth: $3.4 Billion
Notable Member(s): Steve Wynn
Claim to Fame: The Bellagio/Wynn Resorts
Unlike some of the other family members who made this list, Steve Wynn created his wealth from the ground up, building an empire of resorts and casinos throughout Las Vegas after moving there with his wife, Elaine, in the late ’60s. Elaine would become the head of the board of the chain of resorts, a position that she would keep even after their eventual divorce.
Wynn’s reach began to expand outside of Sin City, and he opened resorts and casinos across the globe, including one property in New Jersey, and another in China. One of his hotels in Las Vegas is notably the 6th largest in the entire world. Wynn spent a large percentage of his profits on rare art that he displayed in each of his resorts, like pieces by Van Gogh and Picasso. Unfortunately, things would go south for Wynn as the years went by. In 2018, The Wall Street Journal released a report about multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him, including reports from several people who had worked for him in the past. Wynn paid out millions of dollars to squash charges, such as the $7.5 million he paid to a manicurist that said he forced her to sleep with him.
Net Worth: $160 Million
Notable Member(s): Angelina Jolie
Claim to Fame: Tomb Raider
Angelina Jolie is another one of the world’s highest-paid actors, creating $160 million net worth after an extensive career, during which she earned herself 2 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes. Recently, she’s earned $33 million to act in Maleficent, alone – a film that grossed just over $70 million in theatres.
Jolie’s money hasn’t solely come through her acting, however, as she’s been known to dabble in directing, too. She directed Unbroken, a drama about World War II, along with By the Sea, a film that she worked on with ex-husband Brad Pitt. Her incredible on-screen abilities earned her an Academy Award for her role as a troubled teen in the hit film, Girl Interrupted. Of course, acting is in her blood, as Angelina is the daughter of Hollywood legends Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. Jolie was the highest paid actress in existence until Scarlett Johansson recently beat her out.
Net Worth: $6 Billion
Notable Member(s): George Lucas
Claim to Fame: Star Wars
George Lucas has retired from making films since he sold LucasFilm to Disney in 2012 for billions of dollars, but he’s still rolling in royalties from his heyday. In fact, Lucas owns the rights to a lot more than you could possibly imagine – such as part of your cell phone. George Lucas actually trademarked the word “droid,” back in the 70’. Of course, he doesn’t own the entire world, just those 5 letters of it.
LucasFilm is, of course, responsible for all of the Star Wars movies you know and love, but also for some other films you may not realize came from them: Indiana Jones, American Graffiti, and even the classic, but super strange, Labyrinth. And they weren’t just pumping out blockbuster hits in the theatre, but they were also creating the video games to go along with them. The company produced hit games like The Secret of Monkey Island until 2013 when it was reported that they would no longer be making games – that is, until 2019 when EA announced LucasFilm would be making a comeback to help them create some Star Wars games alongside Disney. Keep your eyes peeled, as they’ve said they’ll be releasing a variety of “interactive games,” for all different types of devices and consoles.
Net Worth: $50 Million
Notable Member(s): Nick Cannon
Claim to Fame: Wild ‘N Out
Anyone who grew up in the ’90s is familiar with Nick Cannon and his Nickelodeon legacy. Cannon grew in popularity when he appeared on All That, and eventually started hosting his own shows, including Wild ‘N Out. He also became known for his music, like one of his hit songs, “Teach Me How to Dougie.”
In 2008, the Teen Nick star made some serious waves when he tied the knot with superstar Mariah Carey. The two outlasted all expectations and stayed married for 8 years, announcing their divorce in 14’ and finalizing it 2 years later. They had 3 kids, including a pair of twins, Monroe and Moroccan. Recently, Cannon walked away from a near $5 million per year contract with America’s Got Talent, where he worked for 8 years. But in his words, it “wasn’t about the money,” for him. After all, he’s already worth a whopping $50 million, so it isn’t like he desperately needs it. He is starring in a movie that will be dropping in 2019 called, “Berserk.”
Net Worth: $3.7 Billion
Notable Member(s): Steven Spielberg
Claim to Fame: DreamWorks
Steven Spielberg may have been comfortable growing up, but he by no means came from as much money as he’s introduced future generations of his family too. Spielberg started shooting movies as a kid and he’s now shot some of the highest grossing films of all time, including Jurassic Park and E.T, just to name a few.
Spielberg’s grandchildren are set for life, living it large in the filmmaker’s fortune, worth an estimated $3.7 billion. Not only has grandpa directed some of the biggest movies’s in Tinsel Town’s history, but he also co-founded DreamWorks Studios, which continually produces blockbuster hits. Today, DreamWorks is best known for pumping out successful animated franchises like Shrek and The Transformers. In 2017, it was reported that the studio had earned nearly $15 billion since they launched in 1994. In 2019, they’re set to release the highly anticipated How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World. The studio also recently signed a large contract with Hulu, which is bound to make Spielberg even more money.
Net Worth: $7 Billion
Notable Member(s): Barbara Green, David Green
Claim to Fame: Hobby Lobby
Hobby Lobby got its start at the hands of David and Barbara Green in the 1970s. First, they took out a small loan to fix some of their own picture frames, and it wound up with them opening a small hobby store in their home town of Oklahoma City. Little did they know just how massive their empire would become.
Flash forward to today: Hobby Lobby has nearly 900 stores and 38,000 employees in 46 states across the United States. The company is privately owned by the Green’s, which enables them to adhere to their religion through their business practices, something that has been seen as somewhat controversial. The craft store, which has become the largest in the world, operates offices in two separate areas of China, as well. They also frequently donate to religious causes and are advocates of homeschooling, according to the organization’s website. They were recently caught up in a legal case for being caught smuggling artifacts from Israel to use in a Christian museum, for which they had to return the items and pay millions in fines.
Net Worth: $1.4 Billion
Notable Member(s): Jay-Z and Beyoncé
Claim to Fame: Carter, Lemonade
Rapper Jay-Z and singer Beyoncé are absolute music legends and moguls in the industry and the best part is – they created their empires entirely from scratch. Both of these performers are superstars in their own right and, when they combine everything – they’ve got a net worth of almost $1.5 billion.
Beyoncé, who got her start singing in the girl group, Destiny’s Child, has now sold over 60 million group and 100 million solo albums across the globe. She’s not only gone platinum several times, but she’s also won over 20 Grammy Awards. She’s even been called the “most nominated” woman – ever. If Beyoncé is the queen, Jay-Z is the king, and the king has sold over 100 million albums, himself. He’s won 22 Grammy’s, which is the most that any rapper has won in history, and his company, Roc Nation, continuously puts out chart-topping hits. The stars now have three children together, Blue Ivy and twins Sir and Rumi.
Net Worth: $65 Billion
Industry: Technology and Entertainment
Notable Member(s): Larry Ellison
Claim to Fame: Oracle
Larry Ellison is another wonderful example of someone who nailed the American Dream. Not only is he one of the wealthiest men in the country, but he’s also the 7th richest person in the entire world – and he got to be that way by investing less than $2,000. Ellison co-founded the Oracle Corporation, one of the leading technology firms in the nation.
Oracle is based in California, but they have offices in multiple countries around the world. The company manufactures a variety of products, including both software and hardware programs. They almost had to file for bankruptcy in the ’90s, which resulted in hundreds of layoffs, but they were able to bounce back from the legal turmoil. Ellison’s son, David, and his daughter, Megan, both inherited quite a large amount of money from their father’s fortune. Both of his children used their money to start their own careers in Hollywood. Megan launched Annapurna pictures in 2011 and has produced several blockbuster hits, including American Hustle and Zero Dark Thirty. David started his own company, Skydance Media, which is responsible for several of the Mission Impossible movies, along with Jack Reacher.
Net Worth: $3.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Rodger O. Riney
Claim to Fame: Scottrade
Scottrade founder Rodger Riney always had his heart set on working in the financial industry, even though he would have had it made in engineering. He turned down a job in the latter to work at Edward Jones, after graduating from college. Then, he left to start a firm of his own – a move that would serve him very, very well in the future.
Riney launched his business, with the help of a friend, in 1980 – 5 years later, he’d name it “Scottrade,” and solidify its roots in St. Louis. In 1996, he got in on the internet wave and began online trading, as well. Now, the company has over 500 branches and 3,500 employees in the United States. In 2017, Riney sold the company to TD Ameritrade for almost $2 billion and 28 shares of stock, which reportedly shook the job market in St. Louis. Riney was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and often donates to research for a cure. He was diagnosed with a rare type that affects the blood and is currently incurable.
Net Worth: $2 Billion
Notable Member(s): Mario Trinchero
Claim to Fame: Sutter Home
You may or may not recognize the name “Trinchero,” off of the top of your head, but we’re guessing you’ve definitely heard of Sutter Home wine. The Trinchero’s got their start in the late 1940s when brothers Mario and John Trinchero bought Sutter Home Winery. The family now operates one of the largest wine empires in the country.
In 1958, Bob, Mario’s son, took the reigns as the head winemaker, and John and Mario retired. About a decade later, Bob would make history and invent White Zinfandel. The invention actually happened on accident – lucky for us! The Trincheros now own some of the most popular brands of wine on the market, including Franzia, Gallo Family Vineyards, Napa Cellars, Napa Valley and Menage a Trois. In 2017, Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel earned the title of the top-selling and affordable pink. The family sells over 10 million cases of wine every year, earning themselves a net worth of about $2 billion. The Trinchero clan really is a wonderful example of a family working together to build an empire, and keep it going.
Net Worth: $1 Billion
Notable Member(s): Ruth Parasol
Claim to Fame: PartyGaming
You know those online casinos and gambling apps, where you can sign up and play for free, but then to really ramp up the stakes you can add and play with real money? Well, chances are if you’ve ever downloaded one of those apps, it had something to do with the Parasol family. PartyGaming is one of the biggest names in online gambling in the world. It’s the parent company to PartyPoker and several other online casinos, that rake in over $500 million every year. The site launched in 1997 and grew into a money machine within a couple of years. But all good things must come to an end…
In 2006, however, PartyGaming took a major hit when they were forced to pull out of the United States, due to the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act,” which caused their stocks to drop by nearly 60 percent. However, before all of the chaos happened, the company was the largest online gaming business on the market. Ruth Parasol was named as the 15th (self-made) richest woman by The Economist, and after the legal issues blew over, she founded a philanthropical organization that she dubbed The Parasol Foundation. In all, the foundation has gifted more than $25 million to different charities, including The Red Cross and MacMillan Cancer Support.
Net Worth: $5.3 Billion
Notable Member(s): Dee Simmons
Claim to Fame: Contran Corp.
Harold Simmons built the family empire upon…well…other families empires. At one point, he owned a drug store and a bank before ultimately starting up an investment firm. He made the money to open his business by “corporate raiding,” which made him pretty feared around his area, and the country in general.
Simmons would keep his eye out for businesses that were being shut down that he thought he could turn a profit on. He’d buy them when they were at their lowest price point and turn them into profitable ventures – then, he’d rinse and repeat. Of course, he’d typically gut the companies in the process, so no one but him was typically happy if they heard Simmons bought the place. He was known as being pretty philanthropic and donated large sums to different causes – like the $200 million he gave to the University of Texas’ Medical Center. Simmons was also known for donating to the G.O.P. In fact, two of his daughters sued him for using the money he’d signed off as being theirs towards G.O.P related causes. Those two daughters ended up being written out of his will before his passing.
The Du Ponts
Net Worth: $14 Billion
Notable Member(s): Edward Breen
Claim to Fame: Monsanto
The Du Pont’s fortune has stemmed from a long, dark history filled with blood and terror. The family has funded numerous World Wars and was already the largest gunpowder supplier to the military in history when WW1 rolled around.
At one point, the government took the family to court, claiming they had a monopoly since they pretty much owned the entirety of the explosive industry. In turn, they created subsidiary companies and started to branch out into other types of businesses, like automotive and chemicals. They also started to infiltrate politics and remain deeply rooted in various areas of the government. The Du Pont corporation has been likened to Monsanto and is similar in many ways, including that they are king of the GMO corn and soy markets, owning more than 36% of each, they spend millions of dollars lobbying government, and they’ve manufactured Agent Orange and other devastating chemicals.
Net Worth: $3.2 Billion
Industry: Tea Notable
Member(s): Don Vultaggio
Claim to Fame: Arizona Iced Tea
Anyone that’s ever been on a road trip, or even commuted to work for more than 30 minutes or so – has got to be familiar with the tall, delicious sweet (or green) tea that you can grab from a convenience store cooler for 99 cents. Arizona tea is the king of all gas station beverages, and Don Vultaggio is the king of Arizona tea.
Vultaggio grew up with a typical working-class family in Brooklyn. His dad worked as a manager in a supermarket near their house. Perhaps that’s how he first decided he wanted to go into the iced tea business. He started selling cans of pop (and beer,) out of the back of his van as a teenager. In 1992, he and a friend invested in some canning equipment after they’d created their first batch of Arizona. Considering the fact that the product was a hit and the cans were decorative enough to draw in new customers – they flew off of the shelves. Now, Vultaggio’s company sells over 3 billion cans of product each year.
Net Worth: $8.2 Billion
Notable Member(s): Herbert Kohler Jr.
Claim to Fame: The Kohler Company
Herb Kohler’s grandfather launched the family business in 1873, manufacturing farm tools and hitching posts for horses. Over time, the company evolved and expanded into selling a variety of different things, including fixtures for plumbing. Chances are if you’ve peed in a public bathroom, you’ve encountered something that’s owned by the Kohler’s.
Aside from manufacturing parts like tubs, sinks, and faucets, the Kohler company also produces electrical generators and all kinds of furniture. In Sheboygan, they recently offered employees a $1 dollar raise after displacing them from their department, which some had worked in for over 40 years. The annual income for the Kohler’s? $6 billion. The family has made Forbes billionaires list several years in a row and has been called one of the “most generous” families by Town and Country Magazine. The Kohler’s also happen to own a couple of resorts and golf clubs in the town named for them – Kohler, Wisconsin. Herb apparently loves to golf, and once appeared in a guest role on Open Range. Herb’s son David took the company reigns in 2005 and has been operating as C.E.O ever since.
Net Worth: $12 Billion
Notable Member(s): Thomas Frist Jr.
Claim to Fame: The Hospital Corporation of America
Thomas Frist is another legendary businessman that has topped quite a few lists – including the fact that he is the single richest person in the state of Tennessee. The Hospital Corporation of America is a for (major) profit organization that manages nearly 200 hospitals and 120 other medical centers throughout the country.
HCA was founded in Frist’s home state of Tennessee in 1968 and grew exponentially over the next couple of decades. They have experienced quite a bit of legal turmoil since they launched, including several lawsuits that were launched against them in the early ’90s for “questionable billing methods.” HCA holds the ranking of the 63rd largest corporation in the US. The medical industry certainly seems to run in the Frist family blood system, as a number of family members are involved with it, in one way or another. In 2009, Thomas handed the reigns of the company over to Billy, his son. Today, the family is worth nearly $12 billion and counting. In fact, one of every 22 ER visits in the country takes place in an HCA facility – and just think about how expensive those visits can be.
Net Worth: $3.7 Billion
Notable Member(s): Michael Milken
Claim to Fame: The Milken Institute
Michael Milken has traveled a questionable road to get to where he is today, but he does have an estimated worth of nearly $4 billion. He got his foot in the door of the financial industry in 69’, when one of his college professors helped him land a job at an investment bank. He stayed with the bank for several years and branched out into a department of his creation.
But he soon found himself in troubled waters, after he became the target of a lengthy insider trading operation and was convicted of 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud in 1989. He pleads guilty and got sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and had to pay nearly $600 million in fines. Milken wound up having his initial sentence reduced and served 2 years, along with paying $200 million. After he was released from prison, he became very philanthropic. He and his brother, Lowell, started a foundation for medical research and education. They have donated over $60 million to teachers through the Milken Educator Awards, and started other ventures, like launching Knowledge Learning Corporation, the parent company of KinderCare.
The S.C. Johnsons
Net Worth: $29 Billion
Industry: Consumer goods
Notable Member(s): H.F Johnson
Claim to Fame: S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
The Johnson’s are one of the 25 richest families in the world that sit on over $1 trillion, combined. And, you can bet that at least 5 things in the room you’re in right now are from the S.C. Johnson company, who produces everything from toilet paper to bug spray. The family owns a countless number of major brands, including Pledge, Raid, Grand Prix, and Glade.
The empire was started back in 1886 by the S.C Johnson. At the time, the only thing the company manufactured was floor-cleaning supplies. One of the floor wax’s that he created happened to become extremely popular, which skyrocketed the business to success. In 1928, S.C’s son, H.F, took the reins. At the time, the company had just over 300 employees. Today, S.C. Johnson employs over 120,000 people around the world. The company prides itself on its equal-rights practices and the fact that they’ve always valued women in the workforce. Before the 1920s, women were in charge of multiple departments throughout the organization. Altogether, the brands owned by the Johnsons' bring in billions each year.
Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
Industry: Health and Wellness
Notable Member(s): Rishi Shah
Claim to Fame: Outcome Health
Rishi Shah most certainly made his family proud when he decided to turn his American dream into an empire that’s worth over $3.5 billion. He first developed the plans for his business in 2006 and began his hunt for investors soon after. In 2017 alone, he raised more than $500 million from huge investors like Goldman Sachs.
Shah, who acts as CEO for his company, Outcome Health, now has a net worth that’s over $2 billion, and he did it all himself. His idea was simple enough: putting touchscreens and tablets that promote products in the waiting rooms of doctor’s and dentist’s offices. Since its fairly recent beginning, Shah’s company has faced some turbulence in the form of lawsuits, like the one where his investors say he breached their contract and failed to give them all of the necessary information. Shah ended up resigning from his position as CEO due to the suit.
Net Worth: $7.2 Billion
Industry: Food and Retail
Notable Member(s): Hank Meijer
Claim to Fame: Meijer’s Supermarkets
Anyone from the Midwest might recognize the name Meijer from the popular chain of supermarkets that are spread across those states. The family has made several of Forbes’ lists, including being one of the 6 families from Michigan “worth 27.3 Billion.” The empire was first started by Hendrik Meijer in 1934, in Grand Rapids.
In fact, Hendrik Meijer has been given credit for being the person who came up with the modern supermarket idea to begin with – meaning that he was the first person who started selling grocery items in bulk at a store that also sold other, general items in bulk. The chain prides itself on each store being built from the ground up – they don’t like to buy out other stores. Today, Meijer has over 200 stores and is one of the fastest growing chains in the United States. Most of their stores are located throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, although they have begun to expand further and further outside of the Midwest. The company is currently run by Doug and Hank Meijer.
Net Worth: $2.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Jerry Yang
Claim to Fame: Yahoo!
Jerry Yang met David Filo when he was attending Stanford and working as a software engineer. A couple of years after the pair started talking, they co-founded Yahoo and started raking in billions together. In fact, after they launched the site in 1994, it gained its first million views pretty quickly.
Yang moved to America from Taiwan when he was just 10 years old and says that only knew one word in English when he arrived: shoe. But 3 years later, he was fluent and on his way to a very bright future. In fact, after Yahoo started to see some major investments, Yang made MIT Technology Review’s list of the 100 top innovators under 35. Yang is married to his wife, Akiko, whom he also met while attending Stanford. He’s no longer involved with Yahoo, but he holds a seat on several boards, including The Lenovo Group, and often donates to charity. In 2017, the couple gave $25 million to the Asian Art Museum, the largest amount they’ve ever seen pledged.
Net Worth: $4 Billion
Industry: Construction and Defense
Notable Member(s): Brendan Bechtel
Claim to Fame: The Bechtel Corporation
The Bechtel name is attached to quite a few industries, including construction, finance, transportation, and defense. The Bechtel Corporation, which is based in Virginia, got its start all the way back in 1906 when Warren Bechtel helped build the Western Pacific Railroad. In 1919, they started to expand into other areas, such as hydroelectricity.
In the early 1930s, Bechtel did something legendary when he helped to create the Hoover Dam – a project which cost about $50 million, which would equal out to over $850 million in 2019. Then, during WWII, the company tried its hand at building warships and ended up making nearly 600 of them over a span of just 4 years. In the late ’40s, however, the corporation got its hands on a piece of the oil industry and helped build one of the world’s largest oil pipelines in the Middle East. In the 1950s, they began building nuclear power plants all over the world. The multinational mogul was ranked as the 8th largest private company in the United States by Forbes in 2017.
Net Worth: $2 Billion
Notable Member(s): Michael Jordan
Industry: Sports and Entertainment
Claim to Fame: Space Jam
Michael Jordan is one of the biggest names in basketball in the history of…well, ever. He’s so good that all sorts of stuff have been named in his honor, like a lot of Nike’s shoes. Jordan has also been featured in a variety of television shows and movies, such as Space Jam in 1996. Jordan originally launched his career when playing in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls.
These days, many consider Jordan to be the single greatest player in the history of the sport. He honors his roots in the game by remaining active as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. He currently holds the title of the 3rd wealthiest African American in the United States and the richest basketball player in the world. Jordan’s family, including his wife, model Yvette Prieto, and their twin daughters, live quite comfortably, knowing they’re backed by a nearly $2 billion net worth. The Jordan family owns several car dealerships throughout the U.S, and Michael has written a few bestselling books, including a cookbook and a few autobiographies.
Net Worth: $90 Billion
Notable Member(s): Frank C. Mars
Claim to Fame: Snickers
In 1923, Frank C. Mars would do something that would alter the course of history forever. There, in his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Frank created the Milky Way bar. But that little piece of heavenly goodness was only the beginning for Frank and the Mars empire. Following the Milky Way came all of everyone’s Halloween (and Tuesday) favorites – M&M’s, Twix, and of course, Skittles.
Originally, there was also a “Mars bar,” on the market. But as popular as they were in England, everyone in the United States seemed to prefer the Milky Way, so they pulled them from U.S shelves and rebranded them as chocolate bars with almonds. Frank, who originally learned how to make candy from his mother, created one of the greatest candy businesses in history. When Mr. Mars first started selling his delicious goodness, he opted for the wholesale route. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t get everything up and running at first, so he started small, pitching his candy to stores around his hometown, and other areas of Minnesota. Today, the business makes over $30 billion each year.
Net Worth: $17.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): John Dorrance
Claim to Fame: Campbell’s Soup Company
When you think of pre-made soup, one that you just pop open and heat up to eat on a rainy day, or a day that you’re not feeling well, or maybe just a lazy day, what brand is it that you immediately think of? Campbells, right? We thought so. Well, it works to associate Campbells with soup, considering that the former president of the company pretty much invented it.
That’s right – think way back to 1897. That’s when John Dorrance Jr. took a job working at Campbell's, and when he invented condensed soup. He went on to takeover, and eventually buy, the company from the Campbell’s. He passed away in 1930, but his family still owns a number of big names in the food business (aside from the obvious)– like V8 and Pepperidge Farms, which are subsidiaries of Campbells. 11 members of the Dorrance family still own shares in the Campbells company – which makes over $8 billion every year. Most of John’s grandchildren are billionaires, with granddaughter Mary Alice still actively involved on the board of representatives. Ippy, one of his grandsons, sold his shares and renounced his American citizenship in the ’90s, moving to Ireland to (reportedly) avoid paying his taxes.
Net Worth: $2.7 Billion
Notable Member(s): Chuck Bundrant
Claim to Fame: Trident Seafoods
There’s nothing fishy about the way fish-mogul Chuck Bundrant has built his international empire. Bundrant owns one of the biggest seafood corporations in the entire world: Trident. Trident is a huge name on its own, but it also acts as a parent company to several other huge brands in the industry, including Louis Kemp and Pure Alaska Omega.
Bundrant is right at the heart of the seafood world. His team operates hundreds of fishing boats in areas like Alaska, China, and Japan, bringing the fish in and distributing them worldwide to mega-chains like Safeway and Costco, along with restaurants such as Long John Silvers, along with multiple foreign chains. One of the fishes that they’re known for selling is pollock, which used to be considered “trash,” before Bundrant reinvented it. Bundrant managed to stay on top of the international seafood game by continuously looking to have cutting-edge equipment, like the crab-cookers they had added to their boats in the 1970s and more recently, equipment to freeze the fish on board.
Net Worth: $13.6 Billion
Industry: Real Estate
Notable Member(s): Sol Goldman, Jane Goldman
Claim to Fame: Solil Management
The Goldman family is hands down one of the richest in the country, if not the world. Sol Goldman first made the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans all the way back in the early ’80s and has made it again every year since. Sol grew the empire from the ground up, getting his foot in the door during the Great Depression.
There are very few buildings that are worthwhile in New York that don’t have the Goldman name attached to them. The family owns a 17% stake in the World Trade Center developments, just a part of their commercial properties that total over 20,000 square feet. The company also handles residential real estate and owns over 7,000 apartments in the area. Today, Sol’s youngest daughter, Jane, runs the family empire, overseeing all of the day-to-day operations. His other three children, Allan, Amy and Diane, all own a 25% stake, while the other two women also act as senior advisers to the board. Sol’s children apparently share a net worth of around $3 billion.
Net Worth: $1.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Omid Kordestani
Claim to Fame: Twitter
Omid Kordestani worked his way up in the internet industry, getting his start at Netscape in 1991. Afterward, he landed a job with Google as personal advisor to the founders before becoming the Executive Chairman at Twitter in October of 2015. In 2006, Time Magazine called him one of the “100 People that Shape the World.”
Today, Twitter has more than 300 million monthly users, along with being one of the 10 most visited sites on the entirety of the internet. The company has 25 offices all over the world and often finds itself hosting viral content. Kordestani still stays active in the company as the Executive Chairman, a position that he was given back in 2015. He also helped found the PARSA Community Foundation, which is an organization that works to preserve Persian heritage. He was actually named “Persian person of the year,” in 2007, by the Persian Awards.
Net Worth: $2.5 Billion
Industry: Sports and Entertainment
Notable Member(s): Vince McMahon
Claim to Fame: The WWE
The McMahon family earns their rightful spot on this place for doing something a little different than striking oil or dealing in investments. This particular family is responsible for the creation of what is quite possibly the biggest name in professional wrestling – WWE. The origin of this empire can be traced all the way back to 1915 when Jess McMahon embarked on a journey that would lead him into billionaire’s territory.
WWE is an odd mixture of different aspects of entertainment. The people participating in this sport are both athletes and actors – performing a combination of moves to shock and awe the audience. The McMahon’s can be credited with solidifying professional wrestling as a viable form of entertainment in the United States, pulling together bits and pieces and combining them into one great organization. Aside from their wrestling empire, the McMahon’s also own Alpha Entertainment. The company is a professional football league which is similar to the NFL in many ways – with stricter rules, including that players are not able to take a knee in protest during their games. This seems it would probably detract a lot of potential players from joining up, though…
Net Worth: $35 Billion
Industry: Medical Technology
Notable Member(s): John Brown Stryker
Claim to Fame: Stryker Corporation
If you aren’t familiar with the Stryker name, you’re almost certainly familiar with the technology they’ve invented – such as a little thing known as the hospital bed, among many other things. The Stryker Corporation, which started in the 1940s, is responsible for some of the most important medical technology in the world – hence their family fortune of over $30 billion.
Dr. Homer Stryker founded the original company in 41’, and developed the original moving hospital bed, along with a cast-cutter and walking-heel. In 1999, the company was making over $2 billion every year. They jumped on board with orthopedic replacements and soon reached over $3 billion annually. The Stryker’s were recently responsible for giving the largest donation in history to Spelman College in Atlanta, donating over $30 million. The family often donates to the Democratic party, along with LGBTQ foundations. The Stryker’s also helped found the Arcus and Bohemian foundations.
Net Worth: $24.3
Notable Member(s): Estee Lauder, Leonard Lauder
Claim to Fame: Estee Lauder, Clinique, MAC Estee
Lauder was a beautician who launched her very own cosmetics brand, with the help of her husband Joseph, back in 1946. Little did they know that the business would grow to be one of the most successful in the industry in the decades to come. At first, it was a small company that was built around a single product – one that Estee created with the assistance of her uncle, who happened to be a chemist. People absolutely loved the cream that she was selling, however, and over time they created more and more products. In 1953, an anti-aging dew that the company sold really took off.
But by the 1990s, Estee Lauder was a household name, and the family had a store in every major city in America. Then, the business even began to expand on an international basis until it was one of the biggest cosmetics brands in the world. Leonard Lauder took over for his mom and dad as head of the family business and stayed on as C.E.O until 1999. The cosmetics giant ultimately bought out several other big players in the business – including Clinique, MAC, and Bobbi Brown.
The (Other) Johnsons
Net Worth: $29 Billion
Notable Member(s): Abigail Johnson
Claim to Fame: Fidelity Investments
Fidelity began all the way back in 1946 and was launched by Edward C. Johnson II. In 1957, his son, Edward III came on board as an analyst. The company started researching technology and started providing consumers with the latest and greatest gadgets. In the ’70s, however, Fidelity launched its insurance sector, and the company soon became Fidelity Investments.
Abigail Johnson, the currently C.E.O of Fidelity, originally started in 1988, simply working as an analyst. She would work her way up and eventually; dad gave her the keys to the kingdom. She now works as both President and C.E.O of the company, which employs over 40,000 people across the globe. Forbes called her the 5th most powerful woman in the world. Today, the family controls an insane amount of assets that reach over $6 trillion. Abigail has accumulated a net worth of over $12 billion for her alone. The Johnson clan shares a fortune of nearly $30 billion. The family members own 49 percent of Fidelity Investments.
Net Worth: $12.5 Billion
Industry: Oil and Finance
Notable Member(s): James Howard Marshall II
Claim to Fame: Koch Industries
The Marshall family saw the beginning of their fortune in the oil business when James Howard II owned a large portion of the Great Northern Oil Company and decided to trade all of his shares for 15% of Koch Industries – an investment that would prove to be more profitable than he could have possibly imagined.
James Howard handed over 4% shares to two of his sons, and year after year of legal battles would ensue. In 1983, the Koch brothers took sole ownership and he bought his shares back from his sons – shares that are worth billions of dollars today. About a year before he passed away, James Howard infamously tied the knot with (then) 26-year old playmate, Anna Nicole Smith – a marriage that would cause serious tensions between his children and other family members. After his death, Anna Nicole obtained a large portion of the estate, a decision which the kids are still trying to have overturned.
Net Worth: $7 Billion
Industry: Truck stop and convenience stores
Notable Member(s): Judy and Tom Love
Claim to Fame: Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
The Love family empire got its start back in 1964 when Judy and Tom and Love dropped their last $5,000 on a little abandoned fill station in a small town just north of Oklahoma City. Now, they’ve got gas stations all across the country, and a fortune of over $7 billion.
Anyone who has driven across America knows about Love’s, and it’s a favorite for truckers who do it on a regular basis. Not only does the chain offer gas-on-the-go, but it also offers a shower station, and often times a restaurant, like Dunkin’ Donuts, Bojangles, Burger King, Taco Bell or Mickey D’s. Not bad for a place that got its start for less than $10,000! Because of its affiliations with huge names in the fast food industry and its all-around convenience, Love’s continues to grow every day, buying out competitors regularly. As of 2017, they were said to have over 420 stores in 41 states. The Love family fortune has grown to a whopping $7 billion!
Net Worth: $20.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Rupert Murdoch
Claim to Fame: Fox News
Rupert Murdoch and his family control an insane amount of the mainstream media, as he owns The Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins and (until recently) The 20th Century Fox Company. Murdoch immigrated to the United States from Australia in the ’70s and started expanding the business he’d created in his home country.
Murdoch’s 20+ billion empires grow more and more every day, as he owns stakes in, well…the majority of TV channels and even some streaming platforms. Yup, he actually holds the claim to 30 percent of Hulu. The media mogul is so huge that he’s been portrayed in numerous shows and films, including an episode of The Simpsons. In 2019, Murdoch sold Fox, which is a large umbrella that includes everything from football games to FX shows and movies. The lucky buyer? The Walt Disney Corporation, who shelled out billions of dollars for (most of) the rights. However, Rupert’s son Lachlan will stay on as chairman of the board and C.E.O.
Net Worth: $5.8 Billion
Notable Member(s): Jim Davis
Claim to Fame: New Balance
New Balance was actually founded all the way back in 1906, but it remained as just a small-time footwear company in Boston until Jim Davis came along and bought it in 1972. Davis turned the company into the conglomerate that it is today and racked up a net worth of nearly $6 billion.
Now, the shoe mogul has multi-million-dollar deals with big name brands all over the world, including a recent $40 million per year deal in Liverpool with Warrior Sports. The company is also known for sponsoring athletes like the Toronto Raptors Small Forward, Kawhi Leonard, in 2018. Unfortunately, New Balance got caught up in political controversies around the 2016 election which prompted a social media frenzy that showed thousands of people tossing their sneakers in the trash and vowing never to buy from them again. However, they seem to be doing just fine, and they recently hosted their 19th annual New Balance Nationals in North Carolina.
Net Worth: $4.4
Industry: Health and Wellness
Notable Member(s): Frank L. Vandersloot
Claim to Fame: Melaleuca, Inc.
The VanderSloot’s are another great example of a name that not everyone’s heard of, but that’s attached to multiple things laying around any given house at any second. The VanderSloot’s founded Melaleuca, Inc, a health and wellness company that sells personal care and household items to customers and businesses all over the world.
When Frank L. VanderSloot first founded the company in 1985, they started fairly small, selling things like tea tree oil. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite hit the mark the first time around and he was forced into closing temporarily. He even went so far as to describe the initial failure as a “mess.” But when VanderSloot relaunched his health and wellness company, he was able to grow it into a fortune 500, thanks to his multilevel marketing tactics. They still depend on the same marketing schemes, with their website promising that they can “erase your debt.” But hey, they’ve become an empire, worth over $3 billion…so, anything is possible, apparently even with MLM!
Net Worth: $14.3 Billion
Notable Member(s): Dirk Ziff
Industry: Media and Finance
Claim to Fame: PC Magazine
The Ziff brothers are a case of family money being passed down and being handed to someone simply because of a shared bloodline. However, these brothers were able to take that wealth and build upon it. In this case, their grandfather was a media mogul who owned several publications, including PC and Car and Driver.
After his death, they inherited his fortune and started an investment firm – Ziff Brothers Investments. The decision proved to be a wise one and the wealth continued to grow with each new investment the siblings made until eventually, they found themselves worth nearly $15 billion – or just over $5 billion each. The brothers, who are said to shy away from the cameras of the media, recently put their family estate in Manalapan up for sale for a whopping $195 million. They also closed out their hedge funds and decided to part ways and sold another property that they owned in Palm Beach. They’re also said to be pretty philanthropic, donating to several causes and charities over the years, including Republican legislators that support gay marriage, and Harvard’s hockey program.
Net Worth: $34 Billion
Notable Member(s): Phil “Buck” Knight
Claim to Fame: Nike
Nike just so happens to have an incredible success story behind it, as well as a pretty awesome creator. Phil Knight, who founded the company, didn’t grow up with a ton of money, and he certainly didn’t have his first company handed to him. Although his father did own a newspaper, he refused to just hire his son and instead made him work for everything.
Out of spite, Phil headed over to his father’s rival newspaper and got a job there – where he worked his butt off. The office was 7 miles away from his home – and he walked to work and ran home every single day. He went on to become a distance runner for his alma mater, the University of Oregon. After school, Knight enlisted with the army, where he served a year of active duty and 7 years in the reserve. After his first year, he went to the Stanford Graduate School of Business and earned his MBA. He traveled the world after graduation, including a trip to Japan, during which he got the idea for the company. Now, Nike pulls in almost $9 billion per year, making he and his family some of the richest people in the country.
Net Worth: $2 Billion
Notable Member(s): Roger Penske
Claim to Fame: Penske Co.
Penske is one of the biggest names in the auto world, and even those that really aren’t all familiar with that would have probably heard the name more than a few times. Roger Penske began building the family empire in the 1950s when he started racing and selling cars. By the ’60s, he was well-known and winning all kinds of awards.
Roger wasn’t just racing cars, though, he was selling them, too – and turning quite a profit. Aside from being named Sports Illustrated “Driver of the Year,” in 1961, he was becoming quite a success financially, as well. In 1965, he retired from racing and focused on the business side of things, like opening up his first dealership. Now, you can’t go to a race without seeing the name Penske all over everything. Penske even runs his own IndyCar team and has dealerships all over the United States and throughout Canada and some parts of Europe. The racing legend has been inducted into several Hall of Fames and has amassed a net worth of over $2 billion.
Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): J. Paul Getty
Claim to Fame: Getty Oil The
Getty family struck wealth in the 20th century, when George Franklin and son, John Paul, immersed themselves in the petroleum industry. When J. Paul created Oil Getty, his dad wasn’t so sure about his abilities in the industry, but he certainly proved him wrong. In 1949, he started negotiating billion-dollar contracts in the Middle East.
But in the ’80s, Gordon Getty started selling off all of the company assets. In fact, he almost sold the company outright to Texaco, but in 1985, Texaco was sued by Pennzoil for over $10 Billion and Getty pulled out of the deal, which meant the company would continue to exist. However, they continued to work to sell and in 200, the company was turned over to Lukoil. In 1973, John Paul Getty III was on vacation in Rome when he was kidnapped and held for ransom. His grandfather didn’t want to pay but eventually agreed to help his son cover the ransom – but insisted on charging him interest. However, he didn’t agree until after the kidnappers chopped his ear off.
The Ballmer Family
Net worth: $47.8 billion
Family Business: Los Angeles
Clippers Industry: Sports
Prominent Member: Steve Ballmer
The Ballmer family has Steve Ballmer to thank for its incredible wealth. Ballmer owns the majority of the LA Clippers NBA team. Before that, he was the CEO of Microsoft. Balmer was one of the pioneering members of the company during the 2000s
After leaving Microsoft, Ballmer ventured into the sports industry and apparently bought the Los Angeles Clippers for a around $2 billion. If this is true, then this would be the second highest sum ever paid in the history of American professional sports. Ballmer clearly turns everything he touches into gold
Net Worth: $4.1 Billion
Notable Member(s): Tom and Alec Gores
Claim to Fame: Platinum Equity
Tom Gores grew up in Flint, Michigan, after his family moved to the United States from Israel when he was just 4 years old. He worked as a bag and stock boy at the supermarket that his father owned. But in his 20’s, he got into investing, and eventually, launched the company that would skyrocket him to success: Platinum Equity.
But Platinum Equity wasn’t just an investment firm, they specialized in buyouts, and it soon became feared among business owners around the world. The company, although based in Los Angeles, was buying out businesses from all four corners of the world. Today, it’s completed over 250 acquisitions and has offices in New York, London, Singapore, and Boston. Although Alec doesn’t work with his brother at Platinum Equity, he’s still a billionaire in his own right, amassing a fortune of nearly $2 billion through technology buyouts at his firm, Gores Group. In 2012, he lost almost $18 million in a bet on a backgammon game. The brothers have both donated very generously to organizations that work to fight the water crisis in their hometown of Flint.
Net Worth: $4 Billion
Notable Member(s): Henry Samueli
Claim to Fame: Broadcom
Henry Samueli is most well-known for co-founding the giant technology firm: The Broadcom Corporation. At the time, he was working at UCLA and he and one of his Ph.D. students launched the business, paying $5,000 each for startup costs. That investment would prove to be very wise, turning both men into billionaires.
Samueli never officially resigned from UCLA but instead took a leave of absence, from which he still finds himself on today. Apparently, his name is still included on some of the faculty rosters for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. In 2003, Samueli bought a sports arena and created Anaheim Arena Management, which bought the NHL’s Anaheim Duck’s 2 years later. Then in 2015, he bought the American Hockey League team: The Norfolk Admirals. The Samueli’s are also very philanthropic people, donating more than $500 million to causes of their choice to date. In fact, the family created the Samueli Foundation, joining The Giving Pledge, where members swear to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. In 2001, they founded the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California in Irvine.
Net Worth: $8.8 Billion
Industry: Sports and Entertainment
Notable Member(s): Stanley Kroenke
Claim to Fame: Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Rams
The Kroenke family also has its wings spread pretty wide when it comes to their financial accomplishments. Stan Kroenke’s made a name for himself in the world of sports and entertainment, buying teams such as the Colorado Rapids and the Los Angeles Rams.
But Kroenke’s wife, Ann, also happens to be the niece of Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton –which makes her the heiress to the retailer’s fortune. Ann also owns a few sports teams herself, including the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. The NFL has restrictions about how many teams an owner can have, hence why she stepped into the sports world. The Kroenke’s also own quite a few ranches that total nearly 900,000 feet of land including the Waggoner Ranch, the biggest one in Texas. Their company, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, owns the Pepsi Center in Denver and co-owns Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. But their reach also goes beyond the borders of the USA, as they also own some stakes in the Arsenal Football Club in the UK. They recently were criticized due to the fact they launched a television channel overseas that features trophy hunting.
Net Worth: $1.4 Billion
Notable Member(s): Kim Kardashian
Claim to Fame: Kim Kardashian’s Instagram Account
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have a strange dynamic going on in their family. Kanye grew into his fame through putting out music – like his hit song, Gold digger, while Kim found her fame through…Instagram and adult movies.
But these days, Kim uses her insanely high follower count to sell her makeup and bring in money through endorsements. She gets paid millions of dollars for every sponsored post that she makes on social media. She also stars in her family’s reality show: Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kanye is still rapping and performing occasionally, but he’s also been wrapped up in politics, lately. There’s even a rumor that he’ll be running for president in 2020. The couple has four children together, including a son that was born recently via surrogate. Welcome to the world, son, you’re a billionaire!
Net Worth: $163 Billion
Industry: Retail Notable
Member(s): Sam Walton
Claim to Fame: Walmart
If you haven’t heard of the Walton’s, you’ve definitely heard of a little chain of stores they own, known as Walmart. Sam Walton first started the company back in 1962, under the name of Walton’s 5&10. Competitors laughed at the idea of basing the business model around low prices – but we’re pretty sure Mr. Walton got the last laugh on that one.
Considering that Walmart is the largest retailer – both in general and in revenue – you can imagine the type of dough the family rakes in. Today, the store pulls in nearly $500 billion every single year. The Walton family employs over 2 million people worldwide and enjoys a net worth of over $160 billion. They’ve been named as the second richest family in America. Unlike many cases, Walton’s have maintained ownership of the majority of stocks in the company – currently holding nearly 5.5%. With Amazon on the rise, it’s hard to say if they’ll continue to see that $500 billion increase, but they’ve managed to stay super wealthy for decade upon decade, so they’ll most likely figure something out.
Net Worth: $3 Billion
Notable Member(s): Tom Golisano
Claim to Fame: Paychex
Entrepreneurs and millennial business owners alike are just some of the many groups that are familiar with Paychex, the payroll service started by Tom Golisano in 1971. Today, it’s one of the bigger names in payroll checks, operating out of more than 100 offices around the United States.
Golisano began the financial empire with just $3,000, and its headquarters remains where it all started – in Rochester, New York. The company has bought out several other payroll businesses along the way, including SurePayroll in 2011, which they paid more than $100 million for. More recently, they announced that they’d bought The Lessor Group in 2018. Golisano bought the Buffalo Sabres but sold them to Terry Pegula in 2011. He’s also made several charitable donations to organizations that support autistic and otherwise disabled children. To date, he’s donated more than $300 million of his $3 billion net worth. As of 2017, Forbes called Galisano the 264th richest man in the United States.
Net Worth: $2.9 Billion
Industry: Biotechnology, Finance
Notable Member(s): Osman Kibar
Claim to Fame: Samumed Osman
Kibar has been ranked as one of the richest Turks, and well, one of the richest people in the world, by Forbes. Kibar is the current CEO of Samumed, a biotech firm that creates pharmaceuticals for all different types of illnesses and disorders. The company, that specializes in anti-aging drugs, brought in $500 million recently from private investors.
Kibar founded his first company while he was enrolled in a Ph. D program at the University of California in San Diego. In fact, he founded an additional company at the same time as well, although since he was still busy with school, he didn’t play too much of an active role in either. But in 2008, Kibar founded Samumed – a move that would change the course of his life. The company was so successful that Pfizer bought it. However, they ultimately ended up in disagreement which caused the smaller company to branch off on its own. Now, that “little” company is worth over $12 billion.
Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Henry Kravis
Claim to Fame: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Henry Kravis launched his empire in 1976, with the help of his cousins, George Roberts, and Jerome Kohlberg. The men named their private equity firm “Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co,” and went on to become one of the best in the business.
In 1989, the company made one of the biggest in history (at the time,) when they bought grocery giant Nabisco for a whopping $25 billion. That’s a crazy amount of money no matter what decade, but especially for back in the ’80s. In fact, it was the single largest buyout in the history of America, when it went down. Over the years, the company made some good (Duracell,) and some bad (Toys “R” Us,”) investments. But the Kravis’ slowly and surely built themselves an empire that’s worth over $5 billion today. Henry Kravis donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration and sits as a board member on several councils, including the Council on Foreign Relations – one of the most powerful in the entire world.
Net Worth: $100 Billion
Notable Member(s): David Koch
Claim to Fame: Georgia-Pacific
Today, the family business is run by two of Fred Koch’s sons – David and Charles – who you have probably simply heard referred to as, “The Koch Brothers.” The brothers may have been born incredibly wealthy, but their father still wanted to instill the value of hard work into them, so they worked throughout the time they were in school and still do today.
Fred was originally a chemical engineer who created an oil company at 27-years old, which would result in his 4 sons being born as billionaires. The Koch family business brings in an estimated $100 billion every year. Today, they are simply called, “Koch Industries.” As modest of a start as the company may have had, there is nothing modest about them today. The Koch family is the 2nd richest in America, with an estimated net worth of around $100 billion. Koch Industries is based out of Kansas and employs over 100,000 workers across the globe. It has become the second biggest private corporation in the country.
Net Worth: $33 Billion
Notable Member(s): Anne Cox Chambers, James Cox Kennedy
Claim to Fame: Cox Enterprises
The Cox family fortune began to grow all the way back in the 1800s when James Cox bought the Dayton Evening News with $25,000 that he’d borrowed from his family and friends. Throughout the early 1900s, his success continued on and he bought several more media outlets, which slowly but surely formed into Cox Enterprises.
Today, the company is a conglomerate, based in Atlanta and employing over 50,000 employees around the world. Although they still specialize in media and communications, there are multiple branches of the business, including an automotive group which runs Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader. In 1974, Cox Enterprises became female owned when James’ son, James Jr. died and his sisters, Barbara and Anne, ended up inheriting the company. Today, Anne’s grandson, Alexander, is in charge. The family business brings in annual revenue of over $20 billion each year.
Net Worth: $25 Billion
Industry: Gas and Oil
Notable Member(s): Dan Duncan
Claim to Fame: Enterprise Products Co.
Dan Duncan is a shining example of how to achieve the American dream. Near the end of his life, he was worth over $8 billion, but he started from the ground up – quite literally. Duncan grew up in Texas with a family who lived below the poverty line. His father worked the oil and gas fields and taught Dan everything he knew. His father passed away, and Duncan soon put all of his knowledge to good use.
Duncan served in the military and used his G.I bill to earn a degree in business from Massey College in his hometown of Houston. Afterward, he founded Enterprise products with only $10,000. Little did he know just how successful he would be in the oil business… Duncan passed on in 2010, leaving his sprawling estate behind to his four kids, Scott, Milane, Randa, and Dannine. In all, the family business is worth over $10 billion and brings in billions more each and every year. All of his children are now billionaires, themselves. As oil prices continue to rise, so do the Duncan family profits.
Net Worth: $5 Billion
Notable Member(s): David Filo
Claim to Fame: Yahoo!
In 1994, David Filo, along with a college buddy of his from Stanford named Jerry Yang, launched a website that they called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web to Yahoo!” Luckily, they ended up shortening the name and by the end of that year, the site had already been visited more than a million times.
In 2008, Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo for more than $44 billion, but Filo and Yang weren’t quite ready to sell. However, in 2017, they sold the popular search engine to Verizon for nearly $5 billion. The company had purchased a 15% in the major online shopping network Alibaba before the sale, which happened to be excluded from the buyout. Yahoo ended up producing a large number of offshoot companies, and Filo enjoys a comfortable life with his wife, Angela Buenning, and their daughter. The couple has been known to donate to Tulane University, and they also created a company called Imagine K12, that invests in educational technology firms. David Filo was ranked as the 564th richest man in the world in 2017.
Net Worth: $2 Billion
Notable Member(s): Kim Kardashian
Claim to Fame: Hourglass Figures and Instagram Popularity
Kylie Jenner was listed as one of the world’s youngest billionaires, raking in over $100 million alone from her beauty line. A majority of the Kardashian family wealth comes from their popular long-running reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Of course, the sisters also often sign endorsement deals with various brands, due to the fact they all have an insane number of followers on social media. Word is that Kendall gets paid millions of dollars for a single sponsored post. These days, Kris usually helps to negotiate these deals for the kids and takes a percentage for being the “momager.” Kim is worth an estimated $350 million or more, while Kris is at about $60, and Kourtney, around $35 million. Altogether, the family is looking at a net worth of right around $2 billion, and contrary to what some may believe, the daughters did not just inherit their fortune – they all work in one way or another.
Net Worth: $2.5 Billion
Industry: Alcohol Notable
Member(s): Bert Butler "Tito" Beveridge II
Claim to Fame: Tito's Vodka
We’ll give you 3 guesses as to how exactly the Beveridge family made their fortune. Bert Butler, whose friends called him “Tito,” used to make different types of alcohol for his friends and family and give them as gifts. In 1997, that all changed when he slapped his name on a bottle of vodka and landed a major distribution deal.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is made using yellow corn, rather than wheat or potatoes, was an instant favorite among consumers. He entered his creation in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2001 where it won a double gold medal. Tito attributes a large part of his success in winning that contest. Now, the vodka that was once made in Tito’s garage sells nearly 4 million cases every year. The company prides itself on staying true in its natural flavor – and on the fact, they often raise money for charities like Paws for Veterans. They’ve come to be known as the “Vodka for Dog People.”
Net Worth: $2.8 Billion
Industry: Waste Management/Entertainment
Notable Member(s): Wayne Huizenga
Claim to Fame: Blockbuster Video
The Huizenga’s are another family that’s made an impact in several different industries. Wayne Huizenga, for example, actually first became successful in waste management. He started a small trash pickup service that grew into 100 larger companies in just 5 years. But, that’s not how you’d recognize the name…
In 1987, Huizenga bought the company that would make him a legend – Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster may not be around much at all any more today, but it was extremely popular before streaming services coined the market. His investment in that video company ended up making him a billionaire. But he didn’t stop there! Huizenga got his foot in the door in another market when he founded AutoNation, a retail store for car parts that’s grown into an empire on its own with over 300 stores across the country. Huizenga is also responsible for the popular hotel chain Extended Stay America and owned a part of the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, Wayne passed away back in 2018, but his children and grandchildren continue to expand the family fortune.
Net Worth: $1.8 Billion
Notable Member(s): Maurice Greenberg
Claim to Fame: AIG
The Greenberg family has had their fair share of drama and scandals, which may be how you first heard of them, but there’s no denying that they’ve got ridiculous amounts of money. Maurice Greenberg was put in charge of the American International Group, which was originally founded by Cornelius Vander Starr.
Greenberg only worked with AIG for a few years before announcing Martin J. Sullivan would replace him. He held several other major positions over the years, including being a member of both the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. These days, he’s working as the Chief Executive Officer of C.V Starr, a financial company founded by the same man that launched AIG. Robert Greenberg added to the family fortune by founding Skechers, one of the biggest shoe brands currently on the market. The Greenberg’s have a net worth of nearly $2 billion and climbing.
Net Worth: $2.3 Billion
Industry: Media and Technology
Notable Member(s): Reed Hastings
Claim to Fame: Netflix
You may not recognize the name Reed Hastings, but you’re definitely familiar with a little company that he runs, called Netflix. Hastings co-founded the streaming service back in 1997 when it was DVD-only. In 2007, they started streaming directly to computers.
Hastings was pretty active in the political scene in California for a while, when he became interested in improving the educational system. He donated $1 million to an educational network to help them open a new charter school in his home town. Then, in 2014, he fought to end his town’s era of elected school board officials. Very recently, Hastings sold nearly 58,000 shares of Netflix for almost $350.00 per share. That means that he closed a deal for around $20 million! The company has an average growth of about 13 percent per year – and we all know Netflix isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!
Net Worth: $18 Billion
Industry: Media Notable
Member(s): Donald Newhouse
Claim to Fame: Advance
The Newhouse clan is another powerhouse family that happens to control a large portion of media in the western world. The original billionaire behind the scenes was Sam Newhouse, who launched the family business – Advance Publications – back in 1922. When Sam passed on in 79’, his two sons inherited the fortune.
Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, who happens to publish some of the biggest magazines in the world. Under the blanket of the company lies Vogue, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. But it isn’t just magazines that the company puts out. Condé Nast owns Bright House Networks and Discovery Communications, as well, along with multiple newspapers, including The Oregonian and The Star-Ledger. The Newhouse family transmedia empire reaches all the way across the globe. Donald Newhouse himself had a net worth of around $10 billion when he passed. Today, the family business is worth an estimated $18 billion and continues to grow every day. It was recently ranked as the 44th largest private company in the country.
Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Charles Dolan
Claim to Fame: Cablevision
Now, you may not immediately recognize the name Dolan, but if it weren’t for the Dolan family, TV would be seriously bland. Charles Dolan is responsible for Cablevision, the parent company of HBO, AMC, Sundance, IFC and more. So, this means that if it weren’t for him – there would be no Game of Thrones.
Dolan found his first cable company in the 1970s, which he named Home Box Office. He sold that company to Time Life before launching Cablevision, which would ultimately be the key to his success. He also acts as the chairman emeritus for the Lustgarten Foundation, which works diligently to research and find a cure for pancreatic cancer. Dolan has made donations to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign for 2020. He’s also donated to his alma mater – Fairfield University, which resulted in him having the School of Business there named after him. His children have used a portion of the fortune to invest in the sports world too and bought shares in several major teams, including the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Indians.
Net Worth: $10 Billion
Notable Member(s): Steve Jobs
Claim to Fame: Apple
Steve Jobs is arguably one of the greatest minds in the history of technology. He grew up in the foster care system in California and devoted his adult life to creating cutting edge products that eventually led him into co-founding Apple in 1976.
Before he made it big, Jobs was working for Atari, creating circuit boards for their games. He used his free time to work on the first Apple computers in his garage. Luckily, the project caught the attention of an investor who dropped $60,000 into it. While he was still working in the garage, however, his girlfriend at the time got pregnant and gave birth to his daughter – Lisa. Jobs was a millionaire before he even turned 23 years old, and in 1985 he founded NeXT, which he spent $7 million on and actually sold back to apple for over $400 million. In 2003, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in 2011, he passed away. He was always very aloof with his daughter, refusing to help her mother and doing the least possible to seem as though he was really even helping her, though he did leave her a couple of million dollars when he passed.
Net Worth: $10.8 Billion
Notable Member(s): Charles Butt
Claim to Fame: H.E.B Grocery
Charles Butt took over the family business for grandma and grandpa in 1971 and remains the largest shareholder in the company today. H.E.B Grocery has over 300 stores across the country today, and over 50 in Mexico, as well.
Charles’ grandma, Florence, actually started the original grocery store after her husband was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1905. Little did she know just how successful the brand would ultimately be. Now, the Butt family is worth nearly $11 billion. In 2015, the “meat market mogul,” was ranked as the 4th richest person in the state of Texas, falling just short of oil tycoon Richard Kinder. Butt placed 44th that year on the list of their “richest people in America.” The company was recently reported to have exceeded $20 billion in sales.
Net Worth: $3.1 Billion
Notable Member(s): Clifford Scott Asness
Claim to Fame: AQR Management
Clifford Asness manages a financial firm that’s responsible for over $200 billion across the world. He himself sits on a cushy $3 billion nest egg that he’s built from “applied quantitative research,” and hedge funds. He grew up in New York and went to college in Chicago, where he landed his first real job.
The job, which came while he was still enrolled in his Ph.D. program in Chicago, was a personal assistant position for Eugene Farma. Farma is a famous economist in the United States, best known for his “three-factor-model.” In his dissertation for the program, Asness argued against one of his professor’s theories. After school, he went straight to Wall Street where he landed a job with Goldman Sachs. Asness has become a sort of financial activist, speaking out against predatory capitalism and sky-high hedge fund fees. He sometimes comments in print publications, as well as on CNBC.
Net Worth: $13.5 Billion
Notable Member(s): Adolphus Busch
Claim to Fame: Budweiser
Everyone over the age of 21 in America knows about the Busch family. After all, they’re the ones who are responsible for Budweiser – one of America’s most favorite beers. In 1876, Adolphus created a brand that everyone knows and loves. Unfortunately, prohibition was right around the corner.
When prohibition struck, it wreaked havoc upon all of the alcohol companies, and Budweiser was no exception. Fortunately, they pulled through it by selling ice cream and soda and boy did they bounce back. However, they were so happy when Roosevelt repealed it that they sent him a 24-case to show their appreciation. Unfortunately, the company fell victim to a hostile takeover in the early 2000’s, although they still managed to walk away with $52 billion. Today, the family owns and operates the smaller, but still successful, William K. Busch Brewing Company. Who knows, maybe it will grow into big brother’s shoes and reanimate the empire. In any case, the Busch family reigns as one of the richest families in America.
Net Worth: $300 Million
Notable Member(s): Brad Pitt
Claim to Fame: Fight Club
Brad Pitt is another wonderful example of someone who nailed the American Dream. He grew up in rural Oklahoma with a father who owned a trucking company and his mother, who worked as a school counselor. He majored in journalism in college but moved to L.A just a few weeks before he would have gotten his degree.
When he first got out to Hollywood, he took acting classes and struggled to find a gig like most actor hopefuls. But in 1994, he landed his breakthrough role in Interview with the Vampire, and things took off for him after that. He’s one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, starring in blockbuster hits like Troy and Ocean’s Twelve. But all of Pitt’s hard-earned money didn’t come through him being in front of the camera. He’s produced a few films including 12 Years a Slave for which he won an Oscar for his off-screen work. The A-lister was divorced from ex-wife Angelina Jolie with whom he shares several children, both biological and adopted.
Net Worth: $7 Billion
Industry: Real Estate
Notable Member(s): John A. Sobrato
Claim to Fame: Sobrato Development Co.
John Sobrato grew up with a mother who worked in real estate, and who launched the family’s real estate business back in the 1940s. He was lucky enough to get in on flipping houses when he was still a student, attending Santa Clara University in California at 18 years old. He still operates as an advisor to the company, which is known today as The Sobrato Organization.
When he first began working in the family business, it was called Midtown Reality, but he ended up selling that company to launch his own in the form of The Sobrato Organization – a move that would make him the billionaire that he is now. The company owns thousands of commercial offices that belong to big names like Netflix. John had three children, including a son, also named John, and two daughters, Sheri and Lisa. All of his children that got their hands on a portion of the family’s wealth invested it in something – such as a piece of the San Francisco 49ers. John M Sobrato also currently works as Chairman of the board for The Sobrato Organization.
Net Worth: $43 Billion
Industry: Agriculture, Energy
Notable Member(s): James Cargill
Claim to Fame: Cargill Inc.
You may not necessarily recognize the Cargill name, but they really don’t need you to. Why? Because this family is packed full of billionaires – more than any other family in the world. Cargill Inc started as a small farming company in 1865 and has grown into one of the most profitable private businesses on Earth – grossing nearly $120 million per year.
Actually, the corporation is the single largest one in the United States, producing everything from livestock to energy. The company’s website is full of industries that it’s cornered – industrial, beauty, risk management, pharmaceutical, and transportation, among others. The family members are reportedly worth over $1 billion each, but most of them remain very secretive and try to keep their lives and affairs private. But don’t worry – how could you not trust secretive billionaires that control every single egg that gets used at each McDonalds and was found in violation of human rights acts after they got caught using (forced) child labor in 2005. Seems super legit.
Net Worth: $4 Billion
Industry: Real Estate
Notable Member(s): Ben Ashkenazy
Claim to Fame: Ashkenazy Acquisitions
Ben Ashkenazy may not be the richest person on this list, but you can bet that he was the youngest one to start a (successful) business! Ashkenazy opened up his first company before he even turned 18.
He went to scope out a location for a fast food place that he was interested in opening, but he wasn’t satisfied with the terms of the lease and he ended up searching out investors to buy the property. Because of that decision, Ashkenazy now enjoys a fortune of over $4 billion. His company, Ashkenazy Acquisitions, owns commercial and residential real estate all over the world. Some of the properties under their belt include part of the Plaza Hotel in NYC, where the headquarters is located. All in all, the real estate giant owns more than $12 billion worth of buildings.
Net Worth: $6.5 Billion
Industry: Real Estate
Notable Member(s): Richard LeFrak
Claim to Fame: Jersey City
The LeFrak name is another that’s a huge player in the real estate world. In fact, the LeFrak empire has spanned over 10 decades and accumulated over $6 billion since its inception in 1883. Richard LeFrak took over the family business when his father, Sam, died in 2003.
The family even has an entire city named after them near Manhattan that includes over 20 buildings and 5,000 apartments and is considered to be one of the biggest names in real estate in the New York area. They mainly focus on providing apartments to the middle class, but they’ve recently expanded into luxury, as well. The LeFrak family basically owns all of Jersey City, being that Samuel LeFrak bought the most of it 1985, and Richard turned it into what it is today. Richard has two sons, Harrison and James, that are both vice chairmen on the board of the family organization today. The company is one of the largest privately-owned real estate firms in the country.
Net Worth: $153 Billion
Notable Member(s): Jeff Bezos
Industry: Sales, Aerospace, Media
Claim to Fame: Amazon
Today, Jeff Bezos is one of the wealthiest people in the world, but he hasn’t always had quite so much money. In fact, Bezos’ childhood probably wasn’t much different than many children who are chasing the American dream. Now, he owns Amazon, one of the greatest e-commerce sites in existence. But Amazon is just one of many businesses that Bezos controls.
Let’s back it up to when he was a kid because Bezos was not by any means handed all of this wealth. He grew up getting his hands dirty on his grandfather’s ranch in Texas before heading off to study at Princeton. He graduated cum laude from the University and went on to work on Wall Street for a period of time before he launched Amazon as an online bookstore in 1995. As the years progressed, so did the website, which began selling more and more products and services every day. The business has gotten so large that they beat out all of the other services combined in shipping times – getting packages to their customer’s doors in two days or less. In 2004, Bezos started an aerospace company called Blue Origin, and in 2013, he bought The Washington Post.
Net Worth: $300 Million
Industry: Music and Entertainment
Notable Member(s): Mariah Carey
Claim to Fame: Mariah Carey
Most everyone in the modern world probably recognizes the name, Mariah Carey. After all, she’s one of the best singers of all time, with a 5-octave vocal range that most entertainers can only dream of having. She’s sold more than 2 million records to loyal fans all across the globe.
But Mariah wasn’t always living the luxurious lifestyle that she’s built for herself today. She had a fairly normal childhood and moved to New York when she was young to pursue her dreams, working as a waitress to help pay the rent on the 1-bedroom apartment she shared with 4 other girls. But after she got one of her demo tapes into the hands of someone at Columbia Records, they knew they had a star on their hands. Now, she’s worth over $300 million, but things for Mariah haven’t all been sunshine and unicorns. In her recent divorce from ex-husband Nick Cannon, she had to fork over some serious alimony – a whopping 1 million every month.
Net Worth: $10.8 Billion
Notable Member(s): Gina Gallo
Claim to Fame: Barefoot
The Gallo family business started in 1933, when two brothers, Julio and Ernest, started up E&J Gallo Winery. Little did they know that one day, their family would be one of the biggest names in the industry. The brothers ran E&J for nearly seven decades, while their other brother, Joseph, had his own cheese business.
Now, one may think that cheese and wine would go hand in hand, which in most cases, they do, but not in these circumstances. Joseph opened a diary of his own and sold the cheese using the family name, for which Julio and Ernest sued him. Today, Joseph’s daughter runs the business which is now simply called Joseph Farms. As far as E&J goes, it is still being run by Ernest and Julio’s grandchildren and children and brings in over $3.5 billion every year. Some popular brand names that are actually owned by E&J are Barefoot Cellars, William Hill Estate, and Frei Brothers, among others. The company has also expanded to produce other types of liquor, like vodka and gin, as well.