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The Richest Person in Every State. (And a Fun Fact About Them I Bet You Didn’t Know)

This list chronicles the richest individual in every state. Some are well-known business leaders while others try their best to keep their secret fortune from being revealed.

We were surprised to find how many of these uber-rich folks started off as small, enterprising entrepreneurs with only a few bucks, but there are a few trust fund babies in there as well. Read on to be surprised, amazed, and inspired!


50. Robert Gore and Elizabeth Snyder – Delaware

Fact: Your winter coat may bear this millionaire’s name.

Robert Gore and Elizabeth Snyder are worth an estimated $675 million each. ‘Aha’ moment incoming. The Gore family put the “Gore” in Gore-Tex. No wonder they’re billionaires! Gore is the chairman of W.L. Gore & Associates. These folks are the manufacturers behind Gore-Tex. His mother and father founded the company in 1958 and Robert joined the company after earning a chemical-engineering degree.

It was actually Robert who discovered Gore-Tex while attempting to improve operating costs. Gore-Tex is everywhere – specifically in outdoor clothing, supplies and footwear. Gore is still active as chairman.

Click “Start Slideshow” below to begin.

49. Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli – New Hampshire

Fact: Reimann-Ciardelli was adopted into the right family to become a billionaire.

Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli rings in at a dazzling $1 billion. She has the distinct good fortune of being adopted into a very wealthy family. She is a descendent of Ludwig Reimann who, back in the early 1800s, joined forces with Johann Adam Benckiser – founder of the chemical company by the same name.

Reimann wed one of Benckiser’s daughters and took ownership of the company. Following Reimann’s death, consumer goods were added to the portfolio by great-grandson Albert. Reimann-Ciardelli inherited a stake in the company following his death.

In its current iteration the holding company, JAB, owns shares in Reckitt Benckiser, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Coty – a maker of perfume and beauty products. Reimann-Ciardelli sold her portion of JAB in 2003 to earn her that $1 billion stripe.

48. Bill and Susan Alfond – Maine

Fact: Warren Buffet credits the Alfonds with the worst investment decision he ever made.

These siblings have their father to thank for each of their $1.2 billion in riches. Papa Alfond, sagely traded Warren Buffett his Dexter Shoe Company for a whack of Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1993 – $433 million in stock to be precise. The Alfond fortune is due to the massive rise in the value of this stock.

Buffet later folded the Dexter shoe company into another shoe outfit, and claimed it was the worst investment decision he’d ever made. When Alfond Senior died, his fortune was split between his four offspring including Bill and Susan.

47. Mary Alice Dorrance Malone – Pennsylvania

Fact: Dorrance Malone rings in at about the same number as superstar movie producer Steven Spielberg.

Mary Alice Dorrance Malone earns her keep ($3.2 billion) by warming the hearts and bellies of Americans. She is Campbell Soup’s largest shareholder, sitting on the board with her brother Bennett Dorrance (also a billionaire).

They can credit their grandfather, John T. Dorrance, for their fortune. He invented the condensed soup, that generations have grown up on, in 1897. Mary Alice owns 17% of the company.

46. Phil Knight – Oregon

Fact: Knight has built one of the biggest brands on the globe.

The name “Phil Knight” is synonymous with Nike. Knight earned his vast $22.9 Billion from building this worldwide brand that is now a household name.

Fifty years ago, he began selling shoes out of the trunk of his car. We are amazed at how many of these multi-billionaires started so small! An introvert by nature, Knight sometimes seems surprised by his won success.

He graduated from Stanford Business School in 1962 and decided to travel. He managed to procure meetings with Japanese shoe suppliers. That was the start of it all. Together with his old track coach, he started Blue Ribbon Sports. The name was changed in 1978. But most now connect “Nike” to shoes as opposed to the Greek goddess of Victory – the inspiration behind the name.

45. Jacqueline Mars – Virginia

Fact: Mars is one of only nine women on this list.

This lovely lady brings us delectable treats such as the Milky Way bar, M&Ms, and Snickers. Thank goodness for Mars. We have all returned the favor by putting $26.8 billion back in her pocket!

Jacqueline Mars and her two brothers own the candy maker Mars, which is always been shrouded in a little bit of mystery. The trio serves on the board but is not involved in the day-to-day.

Their grandfather started Mars in 1911 and their father hopped aboard in 1929. The company has since branched out to include a mix of brands, namely Uncle Ben’s rice and pet food brands Pedigree and Whiskas.


44. Bob Gillam – Alaska

Fact: Alaska is home to the “poorest” richest person by state.

Bob Gillam is worth an estimated $320 million. Having earned his B.S. in economics from Wharton and an M.B.A from UCLA, his impressive pedigree suggests he earned his stripes. From there he went on to work for several brokerage firms. Ultimately he founded McKinley Capital Management, an investment firm that manages more than $7 billion in assets. He currently serves as president and CEO.

Gillam is also a philanthropist. He focuses on supporting his home economy. His own foundation, the Gillam Foundation, provides scholarships to graduating Alaskan students.

43. T. Denny Sanford – South Dakota

Fact: Sanford is worth roughly the same amount as Paul McCartney.

T. Denny Sanford, worth an estimated $1.3 billion, is the Chairman and CEO of United National Corp. He built his fortune on credit cards issued by First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard. These cards have done exceptionally well because they are high fee, low-limit products that make it easy for customers with poor credit to obtain.

Ironically, Sanford is a large philanthropist, having donated half a billion dollars to charitable initiatives over the years. For example, in 2014, he promised $125 million to Stanford Health– specifically earmarked for genetic testing. He also supports the Mayo Clinic and STEAM (science, technology, engineering art, mathematics) research at the University of California.

42. Ken Griffin – Illinois

Fact: Griffin’s now ex-wife requested $1 million per month in childcare expenses as part of their divorce settlement.

Ken Griffin’s hedge fund firm has made him uber-rich to the tune of $6.6 billion. In fact, Citadel LLC continues to perform strongly. As if straight out of a Hollywood movie set, Griffin began trading from his Harvard dorm room in the 80s. He is one of the youngest billionaires on this list. His firm now manages $24 billion in assets.

In 2014 Griffin filed for divorce. Unfortunately the proceedings have gotten a little ugly. There is obviously more than enough money to go around but is anyone willing to let go of a billion here or there?

41. David Tepper – New Jersey

Fact: Tepper is worth 20X that of Tom Cruise.

Tepper manages several hedge funds and is the founder of Appaloosa management. His funds have performed exceptionally well. Truth be told, that is a bit of an understatement given that he is worth $10.4 billion. Tepper’s focus is on distressed companies.

We really like it when the incredibly rich give back and Tepper is no exception. He has given a total of $112 million to Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a big supporter of causes that focus on basic needs and education for the underprivileged.

40. Abigail Johnson – Massachusetts

Fact: Johnson started out in the mailroom at the company where she now serves as CEO.

Abigail Johnson is one of only nine women on this list but is worth an impressive $13.4 billion. She is CEO of Fidelity, having taken over the reigns from her father Edward Johnson, III. She is the third generation to run the fund. Her grandfather founded it in 1946.

Currently Fidelity is the #2 mutual fund in terms of assets (behind Vanguard) with nearly $2 trillion in assets under management.

Johnson is no slouch. She worked at the family firm before graduating college – low on the totem pole. She earned her MBA at Harvard and then joined Fidelity full-time as an analyst. She now owns about a quarter of the company.

39. Ray Dalio – Connecticut

Fact: Dalio is worth 3X as much as Oprah Winfrey.

Ray Dalio is another billionaire who made it with hedge funds. He is worth $15.4 billion and is founder of Bridgewater Associates, the globe’s biggest hedge fund firm. It manages about $160 billion. A key component of Dalio’s domain is the All Weather fund which comprises about half of Bridgewater’s assets.

Dalio was the son of a musician but at a young age began dabbling in his own investments. He started Bridgewater Associates in a two-bedroom apartment some 40 years ago. Today it employs thousands. Dalio’s professional philosophy includes embracing an environment of healthy disagreement and treating mistakes as learning opportunities.

38. Warren Buffett – Nebraska

Fact: Buffet is one of the most generous philanthropists on this list.

Buffet takes the silver prize as second richest person in the entire U.S., cashing in at $70.2 billion. Everyone has heard of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s diversified holding company which continues to perform in spades. Its Class A stock exceeded $200,000 per share for the first time in August 2014.

Berkshire Hathaway is a force to be reckoned with. It holds dozens of subsidiaries and Hathaway posted $20 billion in net income in 2013. The fund recently added Duracell to its roster.

Buffet is an incredibly generous philanthropist giving away Berkshire shares worth $2.8 billion to various foundations in 2014, including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as to his own children’s foundations. This brings his giving total to close to $23 billion.

37. John Abele – Vermont

Fact: Abele is worth roughly the same amount as the iconic Bono of U2.

John Abele’s net worth rings in at a whopping $600 million. He earned his riches in medicine. With a music teacher for a mother and a World War II submarine commander for a father, Abele’s career represents a departure from his parentage. He co-founded Boston Scientific in 1979 which went on to create life-changing devices including stents, catheters and balloons. The company went public in 1992, marking Abele a multi-millionaire.

He has since retired from Boston Scientific but is far from quiet. He is involved in several charitable initiatives and is active on the speaking circuit.

36. Carl Cook – Indiana

Fact: This humble businessman exceeds George Lucas’ net worth by about $1.5 billion.

Carl Cook is worth an estimated $6.7 billion. Carl took over control of the Cook Group following his father’s death fairly recently – in 2011. The Cook Group is a medical device company. It specializes in stents and catheters but not your average run-of-the-mill sort. These devices contain pre-injected antibiotics. The company has revenues estimated at $2 billion.

The company remains privately owned which is a very deliberate decision. The family has also dappled in hotels including the luxury French Lick Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel, as well a casino and a Pete Dye-designed PGA golf course.

35. Thomas Frist, Jr. and Family – Tennessee

Fact: The Frist family holding company brings in massive dividends.

Thomas Frist’s vast wealth comes from healthcare. He is worth an estimated $8.2 billion. He and his father founded HCA Holding, a hospital conglomerate. Thomas remains the largest shareholder. After three public offerings, Frist and his family now own a 15.6% share in the holding company. They have received upwards of $1 billion in dividends since 2010.

Before co-founding HCA, Frist Jr. was a former Air Force flight surgeon and also worked for IBM. He eventually became HCA’s chairman and CEO. He also has private equity investments in Merrill Lynch, Bain Capital, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.


34. Mack C. Chase – New Mexico

Fact: Chase and his business partner named a company after their wives.

Mack C. Chase’s impressive net worth is $650 million. Chase made his riches in oil and natural gas in Texas and New Mexico.

His humble beginnings as a well worker set him on the right track to start Mack Chase. Inc., in 1968. Chase is no stranger to founding companies – with at least five under his belt. The sweetest one is Marbob Energy Corporation, named after his own wife and the wife of its co-founder. He also doesn’t hold back in terms of giving back, having organized and funded scholarship programs.

33. Garry Drummond – Alabama

Fact: Gary Drummond owes his fortune to his father, three mules, and a tiny bank loan.

Garry Drummond is almost a billionaire, cashing in at $980 million. His father started a coal mining business with three mules and a small bank loan in the early 1900s. Garry didn’t jump right in but rather got a university degree and later became CEO in 1973.

A few years after he joined, the business struck a very lucrative deal with several Japanese steel companies to be their coal provider. The Drummond Company is sitting pretty with massive reserves through Alabama and Colombia.

Sadly Drummond passed away at the age of 78 shortly before this article was published. His certainly did well by his four children.

32. Leslie Lampton – Mississippi

Fact: Lampton matches the net worth of J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.

Leslie Lampton joins the world’s elite with a net worth of $1 billion. He is chairman of Ergon which has grown from a petroleum retailer of two employees to a massive refining and chemicals powerhouse.

Ergon is involved in the exploration, production and transportation of oil and gas. It has also expanded into asphalt production and maintains a real estate division.

Lampton has put some of his riches back into his alma mater, Ole Miss, specifically towards its engineering program.

31. Jim Justice, II – West Virginia

Fact: Jim Justice II is worth double that of pop queen Madonna.

Jim Justice has many reasons to be happy – $1.7 billion of them to be precise. His original wealth, courtesy of coal, was inherited from his father but that business has caused much angst – protests, law suits and falling coal prices to name a few.

His more recent attention has focused on renovating the Greenbrier resorts. He has made it into a stunning 10,000 acre establishment with an underground casino, professional quality golfing and soon-to-be ski slopes

30. Harold Hamm – Oklahoma

Fact: His contentious divorce cost him $1 billion. The largest divorce settlement in history

Hamm is the founder and CEO of Oklahoma-based Continental Resources. Although he’s had a tumultuous couple of years, his estimated worth is $13.3 billion – even though he lost a billion bucks here and there.

Hamm’s fortune has taken a few hits. The divorce from his second wife (of 26 years) cost him a billion bucks. Further dropping oil prices eroded 50% of his company’s value of which he owns 72%. OUCH.

Being born as the 13th eldest child of sharecroppers, money was not flowing during Hamm’s youth. He started out pumping gas as a teenager and now Continental Resources generates 200,000 barrels of oil a day.

His next gig might be as energy secretary. He is tight-knit with Donald Trump and is a good fit with Trump’s Strategy. If Trump gets into the White House, Hamm may get the nomination.

29. Charles Koch – Kansas

Fact: His brother, with whom he shares his wealth, lives 1,500 miles away and is next on the list.

Brothers Charles and David Koch hold a diversified portfolio of businesses which has led to their extreme wealth of $42.7 billion each. They continue to add to their group, adding more than $5 billion in acquisitions in 2014.

Their company, Koch Industries, is privately-held and is now the second-largest private company in the U.S. behind Cargill. Charles has been chair of the enterprise since 1967, fueling unprecedented growth. Their holdings include oil pipelines, refineries and manufacturers of building materials. They have even extended into paper towels and Dixie Cups.

28. David Koch – New York

Fact: The Koch brothers are arguably the richest brothers in the world.

The Koch’s are actively supporting the Republican Party but not Trump. They have also been known to open their wallets towards charitable causes. They gave a $25 million gift to the United Negro College Fund.

The Koch’s are often vilified by the left as the poster child for greedy Republican Capitalists.


27. John Huntsman – Utah

Fact: Hunstman got his start picking potatoes.

Jon Huntsman is worth $1.1 billion but he came by it honestly. He was poor growing up. As a Mormon, he worked the land mowing lawns and picking potatoes. After he married, he began working for his in-laws egg business. From there he began making egg cartons, partnering with Dow Chemical.

Obviously learning a lot via the partnership, he founded Hunstman Chemical. His greatest skill was taking over struggling businesses and turning them profitable.

Rising oil prices put pressure on the corporation’s profits so he gave up 49% of the firm to creditors. To his credit, he managed to turn it around and went public. His stake is worth over $1 billion.

Huntsman is certainly one billionaire with a big heart. He founded a cancer institute. Having survived cancer twice, it’s a cause that has hit too close to home.

26. Anita Zucker – South Carolina

Fact: Zucker is worth 6X as much as soccer god David Beckham.

Rhode Island’s richest person is Anita Zucker, ringing in at $2.2 billion. She serves as the CEO of InterTech Group which comprises a specialty chemicals company, commercial real estate, manufacturing, and aerospace parts production.

She inherited the company from her husband Jerry who founded it in 1982. He died of a brain tumor in 2008 at which point she took over.

InterTech also owns 50% of the South Carolina Stingrays and a subsidiary company owns a solar farm.


25. Scott Simplot – Idaho

Fact: The Simplot family invented the old frozen French fry.

We should all be grateful for the Simplot family. At one point they were supplying one third of the country’s French fries! Thanks to fries, Simplot is worth $2.3 billion.

Scott’s father dropped out of grade school and eventually bought his own potato farm. (We assume they were cheap back then.) He went on to develop a game-changing freezing process and voilà, the frozen French fry.

Before his death in 2008, Papa Simplot expanded into phosphate mining and fertilizer production. Scott currently acts as chairman and CEO. His siblings Gay and Ted are also involved.

24. Harry Stine – Iowa

Fact: Stine puts the GMO in soy beans.

Stine grew his fortune (literally) on a small farm in Des Moines. And it’s a big one – $3.4 billion.

His father was a farmer and so he began experimenting with seed breeding in the 60s. Stine found his calling building some of the strongest soybean seeds of all time. He patented his work and made lucrative licensing deals with the likes of heavyweights Monsanto and DuPont.

His company, Stine Seed, still earns in the millions annually from these early contracts. Harry Stine is currently working on a project involving corn to increase farmers’ yields. It’s interesting that his work is thriving when certain interest groups are focused on the dangers of GMOs.

Stine also gives back, donating to his alma mater, as well as to the Mayo Clinic.

23. Whitney MacMillan – Minnesota

Fact: MacMillan is worth about 12X that of Jack Nicholson.

MacMillan rings in at a whopping $4.7 billion. MacMillan’s great-grandfather founded Cargill, an agribusiness, in 1865. Cargill, a global food monster, is presently the largest private company in America. It has annual revenues in the realm of $130 billion and operates in every continent but Antarctica.

MacMillan was CEO between 1977 and 1995, but CEO David MacLennan is now in charge. Cargill continues to bring in big bucks, thereby padding the wallets of shareholders, including MacMillan.


22. Gary Tharaldson – North Dakota

Fact: This hotelier is worth approximately 3X that of Taylor Swift.

This hotel tycoon is worth $930 million. He’s making money while people sleep. He started off as a teacher and insurance salesman before acquiring his first property in the early 80s.

This started a chain reaction as he acquired more and more hotels until his empire reached about 350 properties. The big money came in when he sold a chunk of his hotels to Goldman Sachs real estate division in 2006 for close to $1.2 billion. A short while later he quickly turned over the Westward Ho Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to Harrah’s for a measly profit of $109 million.

21. Ted Lerner – Maryland

Fact: This mastermind turned $250 into $4 billion

Ted Lerner turned $250 into $4 billion. Granted it took over half a century but still we are impressed! He borrowed $250 from his wife in 1952 and used it to start a real estate company targeting developers.

After a time, he became a builder himself and now owns millions of square feet of commercial and retail properties.

The Lerners are active in the charity circuit. They also own the Washington Nationals baseball team.

20. Micky Arison – Florida

Fact: Arison’s company gets credit for the “Poop Cruise” that had the world talking (and gagging).

Micky Arison owes his fortune of $7.4 billion to Carnival Cruises. Even though the Carnival waters have been very tumultuous of late, Arison is one very rich man. You’ll recall that fatal crash in 2012 off the coast of Italy that tragically took the lives of 32 people and the fire aboard a cruise ship that left people stranded for days while raw sewage flooded the ship’s halls – yep those were both Carnival cruises.

Arison’s father founded Carnival in the early 70s, and Micky and his sister, Shari, have benefited greatly. This is despite the fact that Micky dropped out of University. Add a little icing to the cake, Arison also owns the Miami heat.

19. Sheldon Adelson – Nevada

Fact: Adelson got his start selling newspapers.

Adelson is casino royalty having earned his $29.7 billion largely via hard work. From humble beginnings, he sold newspapers at the age of 12 and then earned some more serious cash running vending machines, selling ads, developing condos, and spearheading trade shows.

Adelson sold Comdex (his tech conference) for $862 million in 1995. He then turned around and built the Venetian in Vegas. While Adelson currently has a lot of side interests, his primary “job” is running the Las Vegas Sands which is the largest gaming company in the world. Its biggest market is Macau.


18. Tom Benson – Louisiana

Fact: Benson removed his sports teams from his children’s trust funds so his third wife could maintain control.

Tom Benson appears to be a real man’s man, making his riches on cars and sports. And those riches total $1.9 billion. He built much of his fortune through car dealerships but his most famous and most profitable asset is the New Orleans Saints football cub. He also owns the New Orleans Pelicans.

For this family, the adage “money can’t buy happiness” certainly appears to be true, especially since the family is arguing over money. Benson attempted to remove all stock in the sports teams from the trusts he set up for his daughter and grandchildren. Rather he wants his third wife to maintain control when he passes.

17. B. Wayne Hughes – Kentucky

Fact: Hughes made his money from other people’s junk.

Hughes made his money from people who simply couldn’t say good-by to their stuff. Who knew there was a $2.5 billion fortune hiding in other people’s junk?

He founded Public Storage in the early 70s and it became the largest self-storage chain on the globe. Hughes’ daughter is the company’s largest shareholder and Hughes himself serves as chairman emeritus.

Hughes also jointly formed a publicly traded REIT called American Homes 4 Rent and founded ACE, a real estate management firm.

16. Dennis Washington – Montana

Fact: Washington is worth about 6X that of Merv Griffin.

Washington’s worth tops out at $5.8 billion. He owns Washington Co. which controls the Montana Rail link. This link transports freight over 900 miles of track. Washington Co. also includes a copper mine in Butte, and crosses the border to include a barge business in Vancouver.

Washington is also a primary shareholder of Seaspan, a Canadian container shipping firm which has a contract in the billions with the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard. They are contracted to build 12 vessels over the next 20 years.

15. Jack Taylor and Family – Missouri

Fact: Taylor passed away at age 94 in July 2016, leaving his fortune to his children.

We’ve all heard of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Taylor is founder of Enterprise Holdings which has earned him a vast fortune of $12.7 billion. Enterprise Holdings operates the largest rental fleet in the world with approximately 1.5 million cars in circulation. Other brands under the holding company include Alamo and National brands.

Taylor passed Enterprise on to his son Andy in 1991.He is still involved as an advisor. Taylor’s daughter is president of the company’s charitable arm – Enterprise Holdings Foundation. Taylor and his family still own a majority of Enterprise Holdings.


14. Bruce Halle – Arizona

Fact: His company holds the Guinness title of longest-running commercial of all time.

When rubber hits the road, Bruce Halle’s fortune rings true at a whopping $6 billion. He founded Discount Tire which is the world’s largest independent tire and wheel retailer.

The company is featured in the Guinness World Record book for the longest-running commercial. That’s saying something!

In terms of philanthropy, Halle started a charitable family foundation that supports causes such as the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice at Arizona State University, as well as Children First Academy – a school for homeless children.

13. Leslie Wexner – Ohio

Fact: Wexner is the billionaire behind the world’s most famous bras and panties.

It’s hard to believe that this is the face behind some of the world’s sexiest lingerie! Lex Wexner has earned his $7.5 billion by running Victoria’s Secret for the last 50 years. Further this bigwig is behind some of retail’s biggest brands including Abercrombie & Fitch, Lane Bryant, Limited Too, and Express.

His father was a shop owner and despite Wexner’s negativity towards retail, he started helping at the store. After a disagreement with Pop, Wexner opened “The Limited”, named for the small selection of items he sold.

The Limited did well enough for Wexner to buy the almost defunct Victoria’s Secret in 1982 for $1 million. He continues to run the lingerie megabrand which has more than 1,000 storefronts across the U.S., and more recently opened locations in Europe and Asia.

12. Pierre Omidyar – Hawaii

Fact: Omidyar’s Ebay was almost “Echo Bay”.

Omidyar is the brain behind the world’s original online marketplaces – Ebay. It has made him a billionaire 8 times over. He is worth a whopping $8.1 billion.

He was born in Iran and immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was six. At age 28 he created eBay. His original name choice was “Echo Bay” but it wasn’t available. He remained CEO until Meg Whitman replaced him in 1998.

He launched First Look Media in 2013 with the goal to foster independent journalism. He also spends time on his philanthropic investment firm – the Omidyar Network. Omidyar is an active philanthropist, donating $115 million to fight human trafficking. He has committed to donate another $50 million by the end of 2016.

11. John Menard, Jr. – Wisconsin

Fact: Menard rules his company with an iron fist inciting employees to file lawsuits.

You guessed it, John Menard Jr. is behind the retail hardware giant – Menards. His fortune is a massive $9.1 billion. That’s a lot of screws! He founded Menards in 1964, showing a knack for the business at an early age.

He grew up on a farm and began dappling in farm construction around his hometown. He also began selling leftover lumber, shingles and nails on Saturdays, capitalizing on the fact that regular lumberyards were closed that day.

10. Hank and Doug Meijer – Michigan

Fact: The Meijer grocery chain operates 200 big-box stores across the U.S.

These brothers have 10.1 billion reasons to smile. They are behind the massive Michigan-based grocery chain – Meijer. Hank and Doug are co-chairmen and Hank is also CEO.

Their grandfather and father started the company in 1934. The chain began as North Side Grocery and a few years later it was changed to Meijer’s Grocery. North Side Grocery doesn’t work as well for a chain of stores in various locations.

You may also recall the store “Thrifty Acres”. The Meijers were behind this too. It was one of the first stores in the country to offer the one-stop shopping approach. Their father ran the grocery chain from 1964 until Hank and Doug took over in 1990. The Meijers have also dappled in some smaller more boutique-style upscale stores called Meijer Marketplace in Chicago. But most of their riches come from their 200 big-box Meijer stores.

9. Alice Alton – Texas

Fact: Alice has been arrested multiple times for drinking and driving and was implicated in the speeding death of a 50-year-old woman.

Alice Walton is daughter of Sam Walton, founder of mega-retailer, Wal-Mart. Alice is an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune.

Alice is not involved in running Wal-Mart in any way. She focuses on her love of art which her $36.4 billion easily allows her to do. In fact she opened the Crystal Bridges Art Museum in her Arkansas in 2011.

Her collections include the pieces by Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keeffe. Her collection is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. She’s also been known to support politics.

8. Jim Walton – Arkansas

Fact: There is no family richer than the Waltons in the U.S.

Unlike his sister, Jim Walton is involved in Wal-Mart as a board member. He is the younger sister of Alice and son to founder Sam Walton. Jim’s wealth of $37.6 billion is courtesy of the retail giant.

The company operates more than 11,000 stores in 27 countries.

Jim Walton is also chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank, founded by the family, which operates in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. The bank has assets in the billions (although not as many as Jim’s net worth) and profits near $130 million.

7. Christy Walton & Family – Wyoming

Fact: Christy’s worth edges out the other Waltons thanks to her late husbands savvy investment decisions.

Christy Walton takes the cake as the wealthiest woman the world with her vast wealth of $39.1 billion. She has held this reign for the past 5 years. Unlike Alice and Jim who are the children of Sam Walton, Christy Walton married into the family. She inherited her fortune when her husband John died in a plane crash in 2005.

Her riches are topped off thanks to a smart investment decision her late husband made in a solar panel company, First Solar, but the bulk of her wealth is from Wal-Mart.


6. Jonathan Nelson – Rhode Island

Fact: Nelson is worth about 2X that of mega sports superstar Michael Jordan.

Cashing in at $2.1 billion, Jonathan Nelson is that guy from Rhode Island. With an impressive pedigree (Brown and Harvard), Nelson made his fortune in media and telecom. His ticket wasn’t in running companies but rather in buying and selling. In fact he founded a private equity firm – Providence Equity Partners – to do just that.

Nelson also made a hefty profit by selling his firm’s 25% stake in the powerhouse car selling platform AutoTrader for $1.8 billion, tripling what he originally paid for it. Nelson is active on Brown’s board and as a prime donor, the fitness center bears his name.

5. Anne Cox Chambers – Georgia

Fact: Anne’s father was ambassador to Belgium under President Jimmy Carter.

Cox’s father founded Cox Enterprises and Anne is now the majority owner of this media empire. She cashes in at $17 billion. For 33 years she was co-owner with her sister, Barbara Cox Anthony, who passed away in 2007.

The enterprise includes Cox Communications (cable, broadband), Cox Media Group (newspapers, TV, radio stations) and Cox Automotive (, Manheim car auctions, online car sales, Kelley Blue Book).

4. Charles Ergen – Colorado

Fact: Ergen used to be a professional gambler.

His total has ratcheted up to $18.2 billion. He earned his wealth from DISH Networks but stepped away as CEO several years ago. Now he plans to take back control after overcoming a court dispute against allegations of racketeering. Ergen plans to move the company into the wireless sector.

Ergen was born to an Austrian nuclear physicist but probably didn’t make his father too proud when he became a professional gambler in college. He got married and then, along with his wife and a friend, began selling satellite dishes from the back of a truck.

Perhaps a bit of a thrill-seeker, Ergen has also climbed Mount Everest.


3. James Goodnight – North Carolina

Fact: Goodnight’s management practices have led his company to be one of the most coveted places to work in the U.S.

Goodnight and his business partner John Sall are the genius billionaires behind SAS analytics software. Goodnight rings in at the tune of $7.5 billion. SAS is used around the world by upwards of 70,000 organizations.

SAS was originally created by Goodnight and Sall to analyze agricultural research at North Carolina State University. Goodnight has been leading the company since its inception and it has been recognized on best-workplaces lists around the world.

Goodnight maintains ownership control with two-thirds of the company. The business partners also own a country club and a spa, and founded a private school.

2. Larry Ellison – California

Fact: Ellison got his start working for the CIA.

Larry Ellison makes the podium as the #3 richest person in the U.S. He is worth a reportedly worth $52.8 billion. As an early Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Ellison is no stranger to living life large. He built databases for the CIA and then went on to found Oracle in 1977. It is Oracle that has earned him much of his riches.

He stepped down as CEO in 2014 but is still present as chairman and CTO.

He is a lover of sailing and backs Team USA. Ellison also dapples in (or gorges on as the case may be) real estate. He owns much of what exists on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. He is proud father to Megan Ellison, film producer, who owns Annapurna Pictures.

1. Bill Gates – Washington

Fact: Gates has held the position of richest person in the world for 16 of the last 21 years.

Taking top spot on the podium is none other than Bill Gates. What does it take to edge out the other billionaires? It takes 78.8 billion bucks to be precise.

Gates co-founded the powerhouse Microsoft 40 years ago, which has steadily bolstered his net worth over the years, but he’s actually been ridding himself of shares for the past 15 of those years. Much of this offload has been directed at charitable giving. His lifetime total of which is up to a massive $29.5 billion.

Gates is very focused on his charitable foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is driven to improve U.S. education and global health and it is also working towards getting Africa to feed itself.