Q. Who Is The Richest American? A. Bill Gates

While a billion dollars will certainly make your life considerably easier and, well, richer; it does not by any means guarantee you a spot on the list of America’s richest men and women. Ok, almost entirely men. 61 people with a net worth of over $1 billion failed to make the list, something unheard of just ten years ago.

“Basically, the mega rich are mega richer,” said Forbes Senior Editor Kerry Dolan.

Bill Gates is the richest American

In something of a milestone, especially given his propensity towards giving money away, Bill Gates topped the list of the richest Americans for the 20th consecutive year with a net worth of $72 billion, up from “just” $66 billion the year prior.

Warren Buffett scores second position

Warren Buffett was a distant second with more money than god and a net worth of $58.5 billion, up from just $46 billion in 2012. Ok, perhaps your god has more than that or can actually create the fabled tree from which money does in fact grow.

Not unlike Buffett’s unmoved place in second, third place remained the bastion of Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison whose wealth was unchanged at $41 billion. What ever was he doing with his money? I imagined him doing a Scrooge McDuck imitation and rolling around nak…that’s where I comfortably stopped myself. Ellison was the only one on the list whose wealth saw no change from last year.

Brothers Charles and David Koch, co-owners of Koch Industries Inc., stay tied for fourth with $36 billion each, up from $31 billion in 2012.

Despite seemingly nicer business practices and a softer approach to doing business with lead pipe cruelty, Christy, Jim, Alice, and S. Robson Walton took the next four spots with holdings ranging from $33.3 billion to $35.4 billion, all increasing from year-ago levels.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder of the eponymous financial information company, rounds out the top 10 with $31 billion, up from $25 billion. That’s a lot of soda of any size. Or a number of soda companies.

Somewhat surprisingly,  273 members of the list are self-made billionaires, while 71 inherited their wealth and another 56 inherited at least some of it but are still growing it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to the list’s top 20 following what can only be called a tumultuous year following the IPO of Facebook and its descent and phoenix-like rise that may very well continue for some time.

A total of 20 new people joined the rankings, including Richard Yuengling Jr. of Pennsylvania beer maker D.G. Yuengling & Son, who ranked at No. 371 with $1.4 billion.

Twenty-eight people dropped off the list, including six who did it the hard way, by dying.  Don’t feel to bad for a few who are just on the cusp of a billion including:  T. Boone Pickens at $950 million, Graham Weston of Rackspace Hosting Inc. at $920 million and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder at $1.2 billion.

Jennifer Pritzker, the Hyatt Hotels heir, becaming the list’s first transgendered member after ditching the name James. 48 woman with less interesting stories also joined Pritzker on the list.

According to Forbes, the 400 people on the annual list posted a combined net worth of $2 trillion, up from $1.7 trillion a year ago. That marks their highest combined value ever.

Meanwhile, the average net worth of the list’s members rose to $5 billion, also the highest ever, up from $4.2 billion in 2012. Net worth grew for 314 members and fell for 30, Forbes said.

Check out the list of richest Americans here.

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About the Author

Brendan Byrne
While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at [email protected]

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