Recently, Forbes magazine released their list of the richest billionaires in the world. Since there’s never been a trillionaire yet (although billionaire Mark Cuban predicts there will be one soon), this list also encompasses the wealthiest people on the globe.
Here are some interesting facts, figures, and anecdotes about billionaires:
First off, we want to clear up how much a billion dollars is. A billion dollars is a thousand million, or one followed by nine zeros (1,000,000,000).
However, that wasn’t always the case. Interestingly, the old English definition of a billion was actually a million million (not a thousand million). So their version of a billion was 1,000,000,000,000!
Forbes released a record 1,826 names on their most recent Billionaires List.
Together, they have an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion.
Remarkably, that aggregate net worth is up from $6.4 trillion last year – a huge leap in wealth.
The newest list of the world’s billionaires includes 290 newcomers.
A record 46 members are under the age of 40.
That’s contrary to the usual demographic of billionaires, with an average age of 60.4 years for the top 100 richest people in the world.
But thanks to this influx of new, younger members to the list, the average age has dropped by five years in the last year alone.
The youngest billionaire in the world is 24-year old Evan Spiegel, who is the co-founder of Snapchat and is worth an astounding $19 billion.
Many people assumed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was the youngest billionaire. However, he never held that title even before Spiegel, as his college roommate, and Facebook co-contributor, Dustin Moskovitz, made more than a billion dollars but is eight days younger than Zuckerberg.
Women are also represented in the billionaire club like never before. In fact, we’ve seen a 50% increase in the number of female billionaires over the last 20 years.
Still, women only represent 12 out of the 100 top billionaires on the Forbes list.
Elizabeth Holmes, at only 31 years old, made the list as the youngest self-made billionaire woman.
One woman that is guaranteed to make the billionaire’s list is actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld). Dreyfus’ father is a billionaire, and she will automatically become one of the wealthiest people in American once she inherits his fortune.
Another interesting statistic is that 88% of billionaires are married, compared to only 49% for the U.S. average.
Sure enough, billionaires seem to be family men and women, with an average of 4 children among the world’s richest billionaires.
So are billionaires all graduates of Yale, Harvard, and MIT? Not at all, as 25% of all billionaires are college dropouts!
The United States is represented by 515 billionaires on the Forbes list.
While the U.S. led the world in people with ten-figure net worths as recently as last year, China became the top billionaire nation in the world this year.
In fact, China added 242 new billionaires in one year alone, bringing the total to 596.
Inheritance and family wealth doesn’t seem to play a huge role in creating billionaires, as only 230 inherited all of their wealth to make the list. (Although many inherited some funds and worked to increase their net worth exponentially.)
In fact, 1,191 members of the Forbes billionaire list self-made their fortunes.
A professor at Stanford University gets credit as being a self-made billionaire…sort of. In fact, he amassed all of his wealth by investing in the ideas and inventions of his genius students.
The top countries for billionaires including China, the United States, Russia, Germany, and Brazil.
Moscow has more billionaires than any other city in the world, with New York City and London next.
But 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan is home to the highest number of billionaires of any one address in the world.
The first billionaire in the world was John D Rockefeller, who was worth an estimated $1.4 billion when he died in 1937. In today’s dollars, that’s almost $70 billion!
Henry Ford wasn’t far behind, becoming a billionaire in 1920. Ford’s fortune would be worth an estimated $194 billion today, making him the 7th richest person in the history of the world!
J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of books, became the first person in history to amass her billion-dollar fortune by writing. At one point, Rowling was actually wealthier than the Queen of England! But when she started giving away most of her money to charity, she dropped her off the Forbes list as is now "merely" worth a few hundred million dollars.
Philanthropy and giving away vast sums of money characterize many billionaires. In fact, almost one hundred billionaires have signed “The Giving Pledge,” an agreement to voluntarily give at least half of their wealth to charitable causes within their lifetime.
Likewise, former billionaire Chuck Feeney (co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers Group) has given away 99% his $6.3 billion fortune anonymously, helping underprivileged kids go to college. He’s now not only fallen from the billionaire’s list, but has a net worth of “only” $2 million.
Not all billionaires are so generous, even with their own families. Notoriously frugal billionaire J. Paul Getty even refused to pay a $17 million ransom when his 16-year-old grandson was kidnapped by Italian gangsters. Only when the boy’s ear showed up in the mail three months later did Getty negotiate, agreeing to pay $3 million, but only if his son paid back $800,000 of that with 4% interest!
One Kuwait billionaire owns a portfolio of valuable URLs and domain names worth an estimated $3 billion, such as party.com, research.com, and jackass.com, but he refuses to sell or do anything with them.
Perhaps the wealthiest person in modern history was Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord that made so much money in the cocaine trade that it’s hard to even quantify (or count, as he certainly never kept it all in banks).
Reportedly, Escobar lost about 10% of his profits every year – about $2.1 billion wasted - due to rats chewing up his hidden stores of cash, moisture decomposing it, or just burying it for safe keeping but then losing it.
He once burned $2 million in crisp new bills just to keep his family warm when they were on the run.
In his prime earning days, Escobar spent $2,500 a month just on rubber bands used bundle all of his endless stacks of cash!