The Top 20 Billionaires of USA

Bill Gates is the richest man in the US and the second richest in the world with $61 billion

Published: Mar 28, 2012

mg_64626_bill_gate_280x210.jpg Bill Gates
GLOBAL RANK: 2
$61 BILLION
 WASHINGTON, Microsoft

First part of mission accomplished: The most generous person on the planet has helped eradicate polio in India. In January the country announced its first polio-free year. Gates will continue to chip in $200 million a year to rid the world of a disease that is still endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. His Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also spearheading a malaria vaccine that is showing promise in clinical trials, and it has committed more than $2 billion to small farmers. Less than one-fourth of his net worth is still held in Microsoft stock; the rest is in private equity, bonds and stocks such as Ecolab and Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

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Warren Buffett
GLOBAL RANK: 3
$44 BILLION  
 NEBRASKA, Berkshire Hathaway

Who will replace the Oracle of Omaha at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway? Buffett announced in February he’d finally made the decision, but he wouldn’t give a name. In December he chose his farmer son, Howard, as the future non-executive chairman and “guardian of the firm’s values.” New Senate legislation requiring the rich to pay at least a 30% tax rate has been dubbed the “Buffett Rule” in homage to the billionaire’s frequent public statements that the wealthiest should pay more than the average Joe. His fortune is down $5.5 billion since last year because of a 5% slump in Berkshire’s stock. In his latest annual letter he confessed to some mistakes, including being “dead wrong” about a housing comeback.

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Larry Ellison
GLOBAL RANK: 6
$36 BILLION  
 CALIFORNIA, Oracle

Oracle’s stock has been oscillating for months. It’s rebounded since its August low but is still off 15% year on year due to a slowdown in the software and hardware giant’s sales, enough to knock $3.5 billion off Ellison’s fortune. Seeking to profit from cloud computing, Oracle acquired Taleo in February for $1.9 billion and RightNow in October for $1.5 billion. Ellison has been tagged as one of the clutch of billionaires interested in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Christy Walton & family
GLOBAL RANK: 11
$25.3 BILLION  
 WYOMING, Wal-Mart

She is the richest member of the Walton family because of an early bet her late husband, John, made on First Solar. Her net worth fell by $1.2 billion, entirely due to a drop in the solar panel maker’s share price. Thanks to her steady holding in Wal-Mart, worth $20 billion, she is still the richest woman in the world for the seventh year in a row.

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Charles Koch
GLOBAL RANK: 12
$25 BILLION
 KANSAS, Diversified





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David Koch
GLOBAL RANK: 12
$25 BILLION
 NEW YORK, Diversified

Despite their reputation as the Left’s favorite villains and reported vow to spend $88 million to unseat Obama, the Koch brothers have kept a lower-than-usual profile in politics recently. Maybe that’s because, as Charles told a Wichita reporter in February, opponents are getting nasty. The brothers and their employees at Koch Industries have gotten hundreds of death threats and obscenity-laced messages. David, who like his brothers has suffered from prostate cancer, says his biggest contributions go toward a “moon shot” campaign to finding the cure for cancer.

Alice Walton
GLOBAL RANK: 17
$23.3 BILLION
 TEXAS, Wal-Mart

Last November the heiress opened Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the town of Bentonville, Arkansas. The museum includes works donated and loaned by Walton herself (her personal collection is valued at over $400 million) and the Walton Family Foundation. She also runs a horse ranch in central Texas.

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Sheldon Adelson
GLOBAL RANK: 14
$24.9 BILLION
NEVADA, Casinos

Casino king  contributed over $10 million for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Adelson can afford to throw his weight around—shares of his Las Vegas Sands jumped 3,700% from recession lows and are nearly double that of rivals Wynn and MGM combined. Now he’s eyeing new markets like Spain.

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Jim Walton
GLOBAL RANK: 16
$23.7 BILLION
 ARKANSAS, WAL-MART

The Wal-Mart heir and son of retail visionary Sam Walton is CEO of his family’s Arvest Bank, which has branches in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. He also chairs Community Publishers, operator of newspapers in these places. Wal-Mart shares were up 10% in the past year.

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S Robson Walton
GLOBAL RANK: 18
$23.1 BILLION
 ARKANSAS, Wal-Mart

Oldest son of Sam Walton has served as the chairman of the giant retailer’s board since 1992. In that time revenues have grown to $440 billion from $44 billion; the company employs more than 2.2 million people in 28 countries.

Images - From Top: Eric Millette; Getty Images; Stephen Lam / Getty Images; Adelson: Getty Images; Charles Koch: Larry Smith / Polaris; David Koch: Richard Schulman / Corbis; Walton: Beth Hall / Bloomberg

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Michael Bloomberg
GLOBAL RANK: 20
$22 BILLION
 NEW YORK, Bloomberg LP

With just 8 months left as “Mayor Mike,” Bloomberg continues to use his money and power to influence social change. In January the longtime equal rights advocate joined with other mayors nationwide to launch Mayors for Freedom to Marry. In February he won plaudits from women’s rights groups for pledging to match $250,000 in donations to Planned Parenthood when the Susan G. Komen Foundation controversially—and briefly—cut funding. Revenues at his Bloomberg LP data and media empire were up more than 10% in 2011, although terminal sales are reported to be down following the collapse of derivatives broker MF Global.

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George Soros
GLOBAL RANK: 22
$20 BILLION
 NEW YORK, Hedge Funds

Legendary investor retired last year and returned just under $1 billion in assets to outside investors. The move means he will not be subject to the hedge fund industry’s new disclosure requirements. He also brought on a new investment officer to help oversee the remaining assets belonging to his family and foundation. He reportedly picked up $2 billion of MF Global’s European bonds. Soros, who travelled to Myanmar over the holidays, plans to set up a base for his charitable programmes in the Southeast Asian nation. Since 1979 he has given $8.5 billion to human rights, education and public health groups.

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Larry Page
GLOBAL RANK: 24
$18.7 BILLION  
CALIFORNIA, GOOGLE

Larry Page took back the reins at the world’s most visited website in 2011, replacing Eric Schmidt as CEO. Now he’s overseeing an effort to gain ground in a social media sector dominated primarily by rival Facebook. Since its June launch social network Google+ has attracted over 90 million users. Co-founder Sergey Brin oversees special projects at Google. A mere 3% decline in its share price over the last year has shaved $1.1 billion off each partner’s net worth

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Sergey Brin
GLOBAL RANK: 24
$18.7 BILLION  
 CALIFORNIA, GOOGLE


 

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Jeff Bezos
GLOBAL RANK: 26
$18.4 BILLION
 WASHINGTON, AMAZON.COM

Amazon kingpin first transformed the way we shop and now, with his Kindle e-reader, has upended the way we read. Now he sells more e-books than the paper variety. He unveiled his “iPad killer,” the Kindle Fire tablet, last fall, but it’s unlikely to slay the popular iPad. He continues to funnel money into secretive aerospace firm Blue Origin.

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Mark Zuckerberg
GLOBAL RANK: 35
$17.5 BILLION
 CALIFORNIA, Facebook

There have been imitators. But there is only one Mark Zuckerberg and one Facebook. The interest in both reached fever pitch in early February when Facebook filed paperwork to go public and analysts predicted a $100 billion valuation. Zuckerberg has secured majority voting control of the company by getting fellow billionaires like Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker to let him vote their shares. The IPO is expected to be a hot ticket, but until it happens Forbes is sticking with a more conservative value for the Facebook chief’s stake.

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Michael Dell
GLOBAL RANK: 41
$15.9 BILLION
 TEXAS, Dell Inc.

The original dorm-room entrepreneur’s fortune is up $1.3 billion in the past year thanks to an 18% bump in Dell’s stock and performance of his investment firm MSD Capital, which now holds the bulk of his wealth. MSD has invested in banking, property, dental practices and landscaping. Dell, who is looking at BRIC countries for manufacturing and R&D, recently said: “It is India and China, not India or China.”

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Steve Ballmer
GLOBAL RANK: 44
$15.7 BILLION
 WASHINGTON, Microsoft

Microsoft shares are higher than they’ve been in 10 years as its CEO continues to wage battles with Google and Apple, without destroying the wildly profitable Windows empire. Ballmer, who’s been CEO since 2000, continues to hint at an eventual exit, selling 18% of his shares in November 2010 and making his last keynote appearance at the giant CES trade show in January 2012.

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Phil Knight
GLOBAL RANK: 47
$14.4 BILLION
 OREGON, Nike

Knight has swooshed into the top 20 of Americans for the first time in 15 years as his sports apparel empire continues to outperform. While the rest of the sports world was ignoring Jeremy Lin, Nike struck a 3-year contract with him in 2010. In February, as the 23-year-old turned around the New York Knicks’ losing streak, Nike wisely extended Lin’s contract.

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Paul Allen
GLOBAL RANK: 48
$14.2 BILLION
WASHINGTON, Microsoft, Investments

The Microsoft co-founder continues to invest in big science, funding the construction of the largest aircraft ever made. Allen’s wealth is up thanks to surging Microsoft stock. His contrarian bet on redeveloping a gritty 60-acre parcel in Seattle’s South Lake Union district looks smarter than ever as more condos go up and companies (like Amazon) move in.

Images -From Top: Bloomberg: John Lamparski / Getty Images; Soros: Hermann Bredehorst / Polaris; Brin: Kim Kulish / Corbis; Page: Getty Images

(This story appears in the 30 March, 2012 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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