Image: Joshua Roberts / Reuters
The exclusive and expensive billionaires’ club in the US, the Forbes 400, a ranking of the 400 richest people in America, got even pricier this year. The cost of admission to the Forbes 400 list hit a record-high of $2 billion in 2017, up from $1.7 billion in 2015 and 2016. The combined net worth of these 400 individuals rose to $2.7 trillion in 2017, up from $2.4 trillion in 2016.
Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates continued to top the Forbes 400 list in 2017 as well for the 24th consecutive year, with a net worth of $89 billion. Amazon’s chief Jeff Bezos held on to the second position for the second consecutive year, with a net worth of $81.5 billion. The other billionaires that constitute the top five in this list include Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett ($78 billion), Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ($71 billion) and Oracle’s Larry Ellison ($59 billion).
US President Donald Trump’s fortunes declined by $600 million to $3.1 billion in 2017 due to weakening of the New York City retail and office real estate market, which led him to rank 248 on the Forbes 400 list, down from 156 in 2016. The Forbes 400 package in Forbes’ November 14, 2017 special issue features an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with the 45th US President and an asset-by-asset breakdown of his empire.
Signaling an overall improvement in the fortunes of American entrepreneurs, 289 members of Forbes 400 witnessed an increase in their net worth, compared to 187 in 2016. The number of individuals whose net worth declined was also lower at 51, down from 114 the year before. The average net worth of a Forbes 400 member hit $6.7 billion, up from $6 billion last year.
The top three industries represented on the list include finance and investments, technology, and food and beverage. There are some interesting newcomers (a total of 22) on the 2017 Forbes 400 list as well. These include Reed Hastings of Netflix, and Bert “Tito” Beveridge of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Among the notable drop-offs (26 in all) were Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.This year, Forbes also took a close look and segregated the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list by their educational qualifications. The findings show that 84 percent of Forbes 400 members have a four-year bachelor’s degree versus only 33 percent of Americans adults overall; 72 of these billionaires have done their MBAs, while another 45 are college dropouts.