Visualizing the Richest Families in America
When we think about the richest people in America, individual names often come to mind like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. But often, it’s the richest families in America that hold a deeper legacy, and sometimes, even deeper pockets.
The country’s 50 richest families hold a collective wealth of $1.2 trillion. This ranking goes beyond nuclear family units and self-made fortunes, and it instead measures the wealth of multi-generational or extended families.
Our visualization, which leverages the latest data from Forbes, reveals the wealthiest families in America and the enterprises that helped them earn their billions.
Editor’s note on methodology: in this ranking, Forbes leaves out self-made entrepreneurs that appear with their nuclear families on the billionaires list. For example, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and Rupert Murdoch founded News Corp, but these successes did not come from family wealth that was passed down to them.
Say the name Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, and everyone knows who you’re talking about—but how do these household names hold up in the modern rankings?
Below are the 50 richest families in America, based on net worth:
|Rank||Family||Net Worth||Origin of Wealth|
|#2||Koch Family||$100.0B||Koch Industries|
|#3||Mars Family||$94.0B||Mars Inc.|
|#4||Cargill-MacMillan Family||$47.0B||Cargill Inc.|
|#5||Lauder Family||$40.0B||Estee Lauder|
|#6||S.C. Johnson Family||$37.0B||SC Johnson|
|#7||Edward Johnson Family||$36.0B||Fidelity|
|#8||Cox Family||$34.5B||Cox Enterprises|
|#9||Pritzker Family||$32.5B||Hyatt Hotels|
|#10||Newhouse Family||$30.0B||Condé Nast|
|#11||Duncan Family||$22.0B||Enterprise Products Partners L.P.|
|#12||Hearst Family||$21.0B||Hearst Corporation|
|#14||Marshall Family||$18.5B||Koch Industries (6% stake)|
|#17||Du Pont Family||$16.0B||DuPont|
|#18||Hunt Family||$15.5B||Hunt Oil and Petro-Hunt|
|#19||Dorrance Family||$15.0B||Campbell Soup Co.|
|#23||Goldman Family||$13.2B||Real Estate|
|#24||Rollins Family||$13.1B||Orkin Pest control|
|#25||Gallo Family||$12.4B||E&J Gallo Winery|
|#26||Reyes Family||$12.0B||Reyes Holdings|
|#27||Kohler Family||$11.7B||Kohler Co.|
|#29||Smith Family||$11.3B||Illinois Tool Works, Northern Trust|
|#31||Sackler Family||$10.8B||Purdue Pharma|
|#32||Johnson Family||$10.7B||Johnson & Johnson|
|#33||Marriott Family||$10.4B||Marriott International|
|#35||Hughes Family||$10.2B||Public Storage Inc.|
|#38||Fisher Family||$8.9B||Gap Inc.|
|#39||Jenkins Family||$8.8B||Publix Super Markets|
|#40||Chao Family||$8.6B||Westlake Chemical Corp.|
|#41||(Charles & Rupert) Johnson Family||$8.6B||Franklin Resources Inc.|
|#42||Phipps Family||$8.6B||Carnegie Steel, Bessemer Trust|
|#43||Rockefeller Family||$8.4B||Standard Oil|
|#44||E.W. Scripps Family||$8.4B||Scripps Network Interactive|
|#47||Durst Family||$8.1B||Real Estate|
|#48||Taylor Family||$7.8B||Enterprise Rent-A-Car|
|#50||Barbey Family||$7.3B||VF Corp|
The richest family in the U.S. is the Waltons, founders of Walmart. Their net worth adds to an approximate $247 billion, making them also the richest family in the world. Over the last year, they’ve grown their family fortune by $25 billion, equal to nearly $3 million per hour.
Interestingly, the Vanderbilts—the railroad tycoons that were once the richest family in the country in the late 19th century—have been ousted from the rankings entirely. Other notable American families, like Ford and Astor, have lost their place on the list as well.
On the other hand, the Rockefellers still hold their status today, ranked at number 43 with a net worth of $8.4 billion. John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire back in 1916, despite the breaking up of Standard Oil for antitrust reasons.
Over the last five years, nearly every family on this list has seen wealth increase. Many of the behemoth companies on which these families built their fortunes are staples in America, like Campbell’s Soup, Cargill, Dixie Cups, Estee Lauder, and M&Ms and Snickers.
For example, the South’s beloved fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, was founded by the Cathy family and generated $12.67 billion in sales as of the latest annual data, making it the third most popular chain restaurant in the country.
Some of the newer families to make the list also owe it to the success of their enterprises:
- The Kohler family: Kohler Co. (manufacturers of kitchenware, plumbing products, furniture, etc.)
- The Taylor family: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (car rental services)
However, a few families have experienced significant losses since the last Forbes ranking. Here’s a look at some notable net worth decreases:
|Family||Company||Change in Net Worth from 2015-2020|
|Fisher||Gap Inc.||Negative growth (exact $ amount unknown)|
|Johnson (Charles and Rupert)||Mutual Funds||Negative growth (exact $ amount unknown)|
Purdue Pharma recently filed for bankruptcy. The Sackler family’s plan is to reformulate the company into a new venture whose profits would go towards the opioid crisis, for which they are largely blamed. It would also cost the family around $4.3 billion directly.
Keeping it in the Family
While some families may have experienced decreases in their wealth, for many this is just a small bump in the road.
Overall, the richest families in America are the keepers of immense wealth that has accumulated over generations. For some, their names are now cultural landmarks across the U.S. and their brands have become synonymous with life in America.
How Central Banks Think About Digital Currency
Central bank digital currencies are on the horizon. What do 65 central banks representing 91% of global GDP think about them?
How Central Banks Think About Digital Currency
In the late 1600s, the introduction of bank notes changed the financial system forever. Fast forward to today, and another monumental change is expected to occur through central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
A CBDC adopts certain characteristics of everyday paper or coin currencies and cryptocurrency. It is expected to provide central banks and the monetary systems they govern a step towards modernizing.
But what exactly are CBDCs and how do they differ from money we use today?
The ABCs of CBDCs
To better understand a CBDC, it helps to first understand the taxonomy of money and its overlapping properties.
For example, the properties of cash are that it’s accessible, physical and digital, central bank issued, and token-based. Here’s how the taxonomy of money breaks down:
- Accessibility: The accessibility of money is a big factor in determining its place within the taxonomy of money. For instance, cash and general purpose CBDCs are considered widely accessible.
- Form: Is the money physical or digital? The form of money determines distribution and the potential for dilution, and future CBDCs issued will be completely digital.
- Issuer: Where does the money come from? CBDCs are to be issued by the central bank and backed by their respective governments, which differs from cryptocurrencies which mostly have no government affiliations.
- Technology: How does the currency work? CBDCs break down into token-based and account-based approaches. A token-based CBDC operates like banknotes today, where your information is not known nor needed by a cashier when accepting your payment. An account-based system, however, requires authorization to partake on the network, akin to paying with a digital wallet or card.
Digital Currency vs Digital Coins
In essence, digital currency is the electronic form of banknotes that exists today. Therefore, it’s viewed by some as a modern and efficient version of the cash you hold in your wallet or purse.
On the other hand, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a store of value like gold that is secured by encryption. Cryptocurrencies are privately owned and fueled by blockchain technology, compared to digital currencies which do not use decentralized ledgers or blockchain technology.
Digital Currency: Regulatory Authority and Stability
Digital currencies are issued by a central bank, and therefore, are backed by the full power of a government. According to the Bank for International Settlements, over 20% of central banks surveyed say they have legal authority in issuing a CBDC. Almost 10% more said laws are currently being changed to allow for it.
As more central banks issue digital currencies, there’s likely to be favorability between them. This is similar to how a few currencies like the U.S. dollar and Euro dominate the currency landscape.
The Benefits of Issuing a CBDC
There are several positives regarding the issuance of a CBDC over other currencies.
First, the cost of retail payments in the U.S. is estimated to be between 0.5% and 0.9% of the country’s $20 trillion in GDP. Digital currencies can flow much more effectively between parties, helping reduce these transaction fees.
Second, large chunks of the global population are still considered unbanked. In this case, a CBDC opens avenues for people to access the global financial system without a bank. Even today, 6% of Americans do not have a single bank account.
Other motivations for a CBDC include:
- Financial stability
- Monetary policy implementation
- Increased safety, efficiency, and robustness
- Limit on illicit activity
An example of payments efficiency can be seen during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when some Americans failed to receive their stimulus check. Altogether, some $2 billion in funds have gone unclaimed. A functioning rollout of a CBDC and a more direct relationship with citizens would minimize such a problem.
Status of CBDCs
Although widespread adoption of CBDCs is still far away, research and experiments are making notable strides forward:
- 81 countries representing 90% of global GDP are exploring CBDCs.
- The share of central banks actively engaging in CBDC work grew to 86% in the last 4 years.
- 60% of central banks are conducting experiments on CBDCs (up from 42% in 2019) and 14% are moving forward to development and pilot arrangement.
- The Bahamas is one of five countries currently working with a CBDC – the Bahamian Sand Dollar.
- Sweden and Uruguay have shown interest in a digital currency. Sweden began testing an “e-krona” in 2020, and Uruguay announced tests to issue digital Uruguayan pesos as far back as 2017.
- The People’s Bank of China has been running CBDC tests since April 2020. In all, tens of thousands of citizens have participated, spending 2 billion yuan, and the country is poised to be the first to fully launch a CBDC.
The U.K. central bank is less optimistic about a rolling out a CBDC in the near future. The proposed digital currency—dubbed “Britcoin”—is unlikely to arrive until at least 2025.
Disrupting The World of Money
Wherever you look, technology is disrupting finance and upending the status quo.
This can be seen through the rising market value of fintech firms, which in some cases are trumping traditional financial institutions in value. It is also evident in the rapid rise of Bitcoin to a $1 trillion market cap, making it the fastest asset to do so.
With the rollout of central bank digital currencies on the horizon, the next disruption of financial systems is already beginning.
The Richest Women in America in One Graphic
Only 12% of billionaires in the U.S. are women. Who is part of this prestigious group of the richest women in America?
The Richest Women in America in One Graphic
The majority of the world’s billionaires hail from the United States.
But of the 724 American billionaires whose net worths are tracked daily by Forbes, only 86 are women. That’s just 12% of the country’s billionaires.
This visualization examines the select few who have made the cut into this prestigious list, using data compiled from Forbes’ real-time billionaires list.
Note: All data is as of November 1, 2021 unless otherwise stated.
Top 10 Richest Women in America
Since 2020, MacKenzie Scott has donated over $8.5 billion and counting of her wealth. Yet, she still remains one of the richest women in the world. This is largely due to the Amazon shares that she received in her divorce settlement.
Amazon’s stock performance soared amid the pandemic, which resulted in the initial value of her shares ($38.3 billion) nearly doubling.
|Top 10 overall||Name||Net Worth||Age||Source of wealth|
|#1||Alice Walton||$68.1 B||72||Walmart|
|#2||MacKenzie Scott||$56.1 B||51||Amazon|
|#3||Julia Koch & family||$52.2 B||59||Koch Industries|
|#4||Jacqueline Mars||$31.5 B||82||Candy, pet food|
|#5||Miriam Adelson||$29.2 B||76||Casinos|
|#6||Abigail Johnson||$26.2 B||59||Money management|
|#7||Laurene Powell Jobs & family||$16.7 B||57||Apple, Disney|
|#8||Diane Hendricks||$11.7 B||74||Roofing|
|#9||Ann Walton Kroenke||$9.3 B||72||Walmart|
|#10||Blair Parry-Okeden||$8.8 B||71||Media, automotive|
Miriam Adelson inherited her late husband’s 57% stake (worth ~$19 billion) in Las Vegas Sands, making her one of the richest newcomers to the Forbes list. The casinos have locations across Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macao.
Several of the women in this top 10 list also share membership with some of the richest families in America—from the Walmart Waltons, to the Johnsons at the helm of Fidelity Investments and Fidelity International.
The Oldest Richest Women in America
The oldest female billionaire in the world, Alice Schwartz, is 95 years old. She co-founded Bio-Rad Laboratories with her husband, which operates in the life sciences research and clinical diagnostics markets. They started the company in 1952 with only $720 in the bank.
|Oldest||Name||Net Worth||Age||Source of wealth|
|#1||Alice Schwartz||$3.0 B||95||Biotech|
|#2||Wilma Tisch||$1.4 B||94||Diversified|
|#3||Doris Fisher||$2.8 B||90||Gap|
|#4||Johnelle Hunt||$4.7 B||89||Trucking|
|#5||Marian Ilitch||$4.4 B||88||Little Caesars|
|#6||Pauline MacMillan Keinath||$8.5 B||87||Cargill|
|#7||Margot Birmingham Perot||$4.2 B||87||Computer services, real estate|
|#8||Martha Ingram & family||$3.9 B||86||Book distribution, transportation|
|#9||Janice McNair||$4.2 B||85||Energy, sports|
|#10||Norma Lerner||$1.1 B||85||Banking|
After her husband’s passing in 2018, Janice McNair (aged 85) took over his 80% stake in the NFL team Houston Texans, which ranks highly as one of the world’s most valuable sports teams. This also subsequently catapulted her position as being among the wealthiest sports owners in the country.
The Youngest Richest Women in America
In the online dating era, Whitney Wolfe Herd has made a name for herself. The female-first dating app she co-founded, Bumble, grew into a formidable competitor for her former employer, Match Group (which owns Tinder and OkCupid, among others).
At age 31, Wolfe Herd became the youngest self-made female CEO in the country after Bumble’s $2.2 billion IPO in February 2021.
|Youngest||Name||Net Worth||Age||Source of wealth|
|#1||Whitney Wolfe Herd||$1.2 B||32||Dating app|
|#2||Rihanna||$1.7 B||33||Cosmetics, music|
|#3||Neha Narkhede||$1.4 B||37||Software|
|#4||Lynsi Snyder||$4.2 B||39||In-N-Out Burger|
|#5||Kim Kardashian West||$1.2 B||41||Cosmetics, reality TV|
|#6||Jane Lauder||$6.7 B||48||Estée Lauder|
|#7||Amy Wyss||$2.0 B||50||Medical equipment|
|#8||Sara Blakely||$1.2 B||50||Spanx|
|#9||MacKenzie Scott||$56.1 B||51||Amazon|
|#10||Aerin Lauder||$4.2 B||51||Cosmetics|
Wearing many hats from influencer to entrepreneur, socialite Kim Kardashian West’s cosmetics and fashion companies (KKW Beauty and shapewear line Skims) have catapulted her to a newfound billionaire status. She has a set of diverse revenue streams, from reality TV royalties to blue-chip and real estate investments.
Top 20 Self-Made Richest Women in America
The self-made label is an additional fascinating avenue to explore. Forbes defines this category as people who establish a fortune independently, rather than partly or wholly through inheritance.
One of the newest entrants into this mix is Rihanna. She already enjoyed significant success as an entertainer, with her claim to fame being one of the best-selling artists of the 2010s. However, it was her entrepreneurial spirit that put her on the Forbes list in August 2021. Rihanna owns 50% of her cosmetics company, Fenty Beauty. The other half is run by Bernard Arnault, who is among the world’s top billionaires.
Here is the rest of the top 20 self-made richest women in America:
|Self-Made||Name||Net Worth||Age||Source of wealth|
|#1||Diane Hendricks||$11.7 B||74||Roofing|
|#2||Judy Faulkner||$6.5 B||77||Health IT|
|#3||Meg Whitman||$6.3 B||65||eBay|
|#4||Judy Love||$5.2 B||84||Retail and gas stations|
|#5||Marian Ilitch||$4.4 B||88||Little Caesars|
|#6||Johnelle Hunt||$4.1 B||89||Trucking|
|#7||Thai Lee||$4.1 B||62||IT Provider|
|#8||Lynda Resnick||$4.0 B||78||Agriculture|
|#9||Gail Miller||$3.2 B||77||Car dealerships|
|#10||Doris Fisher||$2.8 B||90||Gap|
|#11||Alice Schwartz||$3.0 B||95||Biotech|
|#12||Oprah Winfrey||$2.7 B||67||Media|
|#13||Elaine Wynn||$2.2 B||79||Casinos, hotels|
|#14||Peggy Cherng||$2.0 B||73||Fast food (Panda Express)|
|#15||Sheryl Sandberg||$1.9 B||51|
|#16||Rihanna||$1.7 B||33||Cosmetics, music|
|#17||Jayshree Ullal||$1.7 B||60||Computer networking|
|#18||Safra Catz||$1.6 B||59||Software|
|#19||Jenny Just||$1.5 B||53||Fintech|
|#20||Eren Ozmen||$1.4 B||62||Aerospace|
Source: Forbes, as of Aug 2021 (latest available)
For those paying attention to the rapid rise of the fintech industry, Jenny Just’s entry on this list will come as no surprise. Her firm, Apex Fintech Solutions powers the trading technology behind companies like SoFi and eToro. In fact, she has started or bought 15 businesses in the space in just 24 years.
As the richest women in America continue to make great strides, this list could look very different in coming years.
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