America is the home of many billionaires, and while there are a lot of young entrepreneurs in the country, much of U.S. wealth is actually “old money,” which means that families have been rich for several generations. Usually old money families have ties spanning various industries, their original businesses continuing to exist today. Some of the richest American families are also very secretive, and while we’ve heard of the Hiltons and the Kardashians, many of the richest family empires in America prefer to keep a low profile, keeping their money a secret. However, make no mistake: their vast wealth makes these families some of the most influential in American history.
The Wynn Family – $3.4B
Steve Wynn, the patriarch, became a billionaire by constructing some of the most famous casinos and hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, including The Mirage and the Bellagio. From this success, Wynn Resorts, his flagship empire, was created, and so were countless luxury hotels around the world. For more than a decade, his wife, Elaine, was the head of the board, but in the 2000’s, the company began taking on water and Wynn Resorts stock shares hit record lows. After some serious restructuring, the company finally began to see profits returning to their previous heights.
The Bezos Family – $137B
One of today’s most famous CEOs, Jeff Bezos, along with his family, has rose to the top and become one of the richest elites in the world. Bezos is the founder and CEO of streaming and e-commerce giant Amazon, but he was actually born into humble beginnings. When he was born, his mother was still a teenager and his father had a small bike shop. When he was four, his parents divorced and his mother then married an immigrant from Cuba named Mark Bezos. Jeff Bezos was a hedge fund manager on Wall Street in the 1980’s and it was only in 1994 when he founded Amazon, which was originally a simple online bookstore.
The Riney Family – $3.5B
Rodger O. Riney founded and originally developed the company Scottrade (which TD Ameritrade later bought). Born in the 1940’s, Riney first encountered the stock market when he received ten shares of stock from his grandparents. In the 1970’s, the deregulation of the brokerage industry happened and Riney made a move to start Scottsdale Securities, which provided trades with lower commission rates. A decade later, he opened one more branch in St. Louis and in 1996, the company started its very own online trading platform.
The Lauder Family – $24.3B
The Estée Lauder empire started shortly after the Second World War when it was created by husband-wife founders Joseph and Estée Lauder. Originally, they only operated in New York City, and had only four basic products: skin lotion, all-purpose crème, a crème pack, and cleansing oil. In just two years, they managed to save enough money to establish a department store account with Manhattan’s Saks Fifth Avenue. Their product range expanded during the next fifteen years, with the brand introducing new labels, such as Clinique and Aramis, and in the 1990’s, the company started topping international sales.
The Spielberg Family – $3.7B
Steven Spielberg is not only an Oscar-winning director but is also an all-time highest-grossing director, credited with making unforgettable blockbuster hits, including Indiana Jones, Jaws, Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park. Spielberg, Kate Capshaw (his wife who is a former actress), and their several children and grandchildren control an estate worth approximately $3.7 billion. Much of their wealth comes from different real estate investments and of course, Spielberg’s film work, both as a director and a producer. As a matter of fact, he practically owns DreamWorks, the mini-studio which has produced major hits like the Shrek movies and the Transformers franchise.
The Ziff Family – $14.4B
The Ziff family may have closed both their London and American-based hedge funds a few years ago, but their firm, Ziff Brothers Investments, has had a significant impact on Wall Street. Despite the Ziff brothers, Dirk and Robert, having gone their separate ways and pursuing different businesses, the fortune of the family can be traced back to almost a century, back to the publishing company of William Ziff Sr., the Ziff Davis. After William Jr. took over, the company continued to grow, with Car and Driver and PC Magazine among its best-known publications. These days, investments are the main source of its wealth.
The Butt Family – $11B
Based in Texas, the Butt family owns H.E.B. Grocery, the well-known grocery store chain. In 1905, Florence Butt, the original founder, opened the store to offset the costs of her husband’s tuberculosis diagnosis, which means he also couldn’t work. They were surprised that the company soon took off and it expanded throughout Texas under the leadership of her son, Howard Butt. Eventually, Howard’s son Charles took over for him and has been heading this multi-billion-dollar enterprise since 1971, when he became the CEO (though he started at age 8 as a bag boy). The empire is now worth $22 billion with 54 Mexican locations and 329 Texan stores.
The Lucas Family – $5.5B
George Lucas is often dubbed as the richest celebrity of all time and he started making a small fortune after the unexpected success of his follow-up to American Graffiti, Star Wars. However, he hit the big time when he pioneered the movie’s special effects – thereby owning the technology. Star Wars’ success – coupled with a really smart contract granting Lucas complete franchise rights – led him to start different successful film companies, such as THX, which changed sound technology radically, and LucasFilm, which has produced numerous hit films. His other companies include the video game publisher LucasArts; Skywalker Sound, which revolutionized mixing and recording audio; and the film visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic.
The Jordan Family – $1.9B
Michael Jordan, shot to global fame as Number 23, the star of the NBA team Chicago Bulls. He has since transitioned into several successful ventures, such as a brief acting career (we’re referring to Space Jam), major endorsements for Hanes and Nike, and of course, his line of sports shoes, Air Jordan. He and his family now have a fortune of almost $2 billion, largely due to his investment in the Charlotte Hornets. The team may not be nearly as successful as Jordan on the court, but being a majority owner still means millions for the superstar player.
The Hunt Family – $13.7B
H.L. Hunt, the Hunt patriarch, was a wildcatter who founded an oil company and struck rich doing so. The company has since grown and now encompasses investments in different industries. One of his sons oversees the oil company of their family businesses, while another son owns another oil and gas firm. His daughter founded Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, though she sold her business after a number of years. Another heir of H.L. is Lamar who is said to have come up with the name Super Bowl (and is known to have co-founded both the American Football League and Major League Soccer).
The Cannon Family – $50 million
Nick Cannon is an award-winning rapper, producer and actor, and is one of America’s youngest and richest elites. A big chunk of his wealth comes from his best-selling music, and while he started with the rap group Da G4 Dope Bomb Squad., his popularity exploded when he released his hit singles, including “I’m A Slick Rick,” “Can I Live?” and “Nick’s Story.” Cannon eventually created his own rap label, followed by the setting up of a small record company. Cannon is currently the chairman of TeenNick, a channel under the Nickelodeon group, and has an exclusive NBC deal.
The Murdoch Family – $19.8B
One of biggest titans in the media, the Murdoch family has been in the business before Rupert Murdoch, but he is credited with the growth of their business. After his reporter father died, Rupert founded News Corporation and he actually declined to join or continue his father’s business, opting to follow his own path. The News Corp. empire started in New Zealand and Australia, producing television and print news before expanding into Asia, the UK, and America. Rupert bought the Wall Street Journal, Harper Collins, and Fox, which is now owned by The Murdoch Family Trust.
The Nicholson Family – $400M
Jack Nicholson is arguably a legend when it comes to acting, with three Academy Awards (and having been nominated twelve times), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he commands an incredible fortune. Aside from his numerous lucrative film projects, Nicholson capitalized early on and made many investments, with some quite smart and others absolutely bizarre. For example, he bought Marlon Brandon’s former home in Hollywood for more than $6 million in order to have it demolished and according to him, out of respect to his late friend’s legacy. Nicholson’s five children will likely inherit a massive fortune – estimated to be more than $400 million, most of which comes from percentages that Nicholson makes from spin-offs of the 1989 film Batman and merchandise from it.
The Koch Family – $98.7B
This great empire is headed today by Charles and David Koch, or as they’re commonly referred to, the Koch Brothers. Aside from heading one of America’s richest family empires, they are also well-known for supporting the Republican party through regular donations. Throughout the generations, they have faced pressures to publicly trade their company, but the Kochs have fought hard to keep every share within family hands. Fred Koch, the family’s original patriarch, was a chemical engineer and he founded the oil refinery firm that eventually became Koch Industries. Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, the company currently employs more than 120,000 workers in almost every continent.
The Kardashian-Jenner Family – $2B
It was recently announced that Kylie Jenner has become a billionaire, so a list of America’s richest families would not be complete if the Kardashians are not included. Many know the Armenian-American family for the reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians and it is actually one of television’s longest-running reality show. The Kardashian-Jenner family has businesses in the fashion and cosmetic industries, and they are product promoters as well, advertising products on social media and making money from it. Taken together, the family’s net worth is not less than two billion dollars and 21 year-old Kylie Jenner alone, is one of America’s youngest billionaires owing to her company, Kylie Cosmetics.
The Jolie Family – $160M
It isn’t difficult to see why Angelina Jolie is wealthy – she’s a superstar and her family’s lineage has roots to a massive fortune. She may be the daughter of award-winning actor Jon Voight, but Jolie has earned her spot in Hollywood being an acclaimed performer. For anyone who questions her talent, just rewatch her award-winning performance in the film Girl, Interrupted since it definitely holds up. Jolie has since made the transition to producing and directing her own films, which gives her a bigger portion of the box office on top of her really large salaries and numerous sponsorship deals.
The Hearst Family – $24.5B
The wealth of the Hearst family traces back to their patriarch, William Randolph Hearst, a publishing kingpin whose father was a wealthy San Francisco miner. At age 24, Hearst purchased The San Francisco Examiner using his father’s money, and soon expanded the business into a massive TV, radio, and newspaper empire. His son William II became a Pulitzer-winning journalist and now controls their media empire, the Hearst Corporation. The deep roots and influence of their family throughout American wealth, publishing and PR are unmatched.
The Cuban Family – $3.9B
The entertainment mogul Mark Cuban, with working class family roots, now owns all kinds of things, including film companies and an NBA team. Early ventures in systems and software introduced Cuban to success, but he soon decided to take his talents to Hollywood and founded the film company 2929 Entertainment. Among its first projects was the film Good Night, and Good Luck by George Clooney, and the film went on to become an indie success, receiving six Oscar nominations. Other movie projects, documentaries, and the purchase of a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks brought Cuban’s wealth to a whole different level.
The Dorrance Family – $17.1B
You might not believe it, but the Dorrance family practically invented soup in 1897, when John Dorrance invented a method to condense soup, turning him into an industry legend. The business has been run by the family for several generations, with eleven Dorrances now in control of Campbell’s everyday affairs, and it now has subsidiaries, including V8, Pepperidge Farms and Prego. The current major board members are Dorrance’s grandchildren and great-grandson, though his granddaughter Charlotte went into retirement in 2014. Ippy, another grandchild, sold his shares (roughly ten percent) and left the company.
The Duncan Family – $26B
The American Dream is apparent in the story of the Duncan family, who used to live in extreme poverty in rural Texas. Dan Duncan went to the oil fields to try his luck and succeeded in hitting it big when he struck oil and founded the company Enterprise Products Partners, which surged during the formative oil years in America. Today, the family’s wealth still mainly comes from oil and gas pipelines, with the company pulling in billions annually. In 2010, Dan Duncan passed away at age 77, leaving his $10 billion fortune to his children, Scott, Milane, Dannine, and Randa, but since then, their wealth has doubled.
The Marshall Family – $12B
The founding patriarch of the Marshall family empire, Howard Marshall II had shares in the Great Northern Oil Company before he traded them for a 15% stake in one of the most profitable investment companies in America, Koch Industries. Howard ended up leaving his shares to only J. Howard II, one of his sons, who became infamous for the many legal headaches he gave his family. He famously wed Anna Nicole Smith, the former Playboy model who was several decades younger than him. In the end, Smith inherited most of his estate and the other Marshalls took her to court in an effort to get that capital back.
The Getty Family – $5B
Most of the Getty family’s wealth comes from the petroleum industry and their patriarchs are the father and son duo George Franklin and Jean Paul. George Franklin used to be a lawyer before becoming an oilman and after he hit it big, he gave the proceeds of his company to his son, telling him to invest in gas and oil. They did this and it paid off in a big way. The pair incorporated Getty Oil in 1916 and the mighty oil empire has been passing through the family, increasing their net worth through the generations.
The Stryker Family – $35B
The Stryker family started their business in 1941 and has dominated the medtech (medical technology) sector in America for almost half a century now. Homer Stryker was an inventor who invented new kinds of medical equipment, with the mobile hospital bed being the most well-known out of all of them. The company that Homer founded was taken over by his son Lee, and then Lee’s children after their father died in a plane crash. It is known that the Strykers support socially liberal and Democratic causes, and the family set up the Bohemian Foundation, which focuses on arts and culture, and the Arcus Foundation, which promotes LGBTQ rights.
The Simmons Family – $5.4B
The Simmons family made its wealth essentially through corporate raiding and their wealth is new, starting with Harold Simmons, Sr., who formed his own capital company. Harold would buy out a corporation that is about to go under, strip it, turn it around, take the money which he earned, and then repeat the process. He usually went after smaller companies since they were better targets compared to a huge conglomerate. However, Simmons was a philanthropist as well, and the University of Texas’ Southwest Medical Center was one of those that received donations ($200 million) from him.
The Newhouse Family – $18.5B
Advance Publications, the family business was originally founded by Sam Newhouse, who died in 1979 and left the empire to his sons, Donald and Si. The two brothers have since taken the world of international media by storm as Advance Publications is now one of the world’s biggest magazine businesses. Conde Nast Publications is owned by the company and it publishes heavy-hitters, such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue. That’s not all, though, since the Newhouses also invested in Reddit, and they have a large stake in Discovery Communications.
The Mars Family – $89.7B
Nearly a hundred years ago, Franklin Clarence Mars created something which changed America: the chocolate bar Milky Way. The success of Milky Way, which was followed by M&M’s, Twix, Snickers, Big Red gum and Skittles candies, built the massive fortune of the Mars family. Originally, the business was called The Mars Candy Factory, which sold wholesale candy at the time, but this became unsustainable. Mars started again from scratch and today, the company Mars Incorporated not only produces candy but also drinks, pet care products, life science, and symbioscience.
The Greenberg Family – $1.5B
Maurice “Mark” Greenberg used to be the CEO of AIG (American International Group), an American finance and insurance company that is one of the world’s largest companies. Born in NYC, Mark Greenberg is a war veteran, was an Army captain in World War II, and has received a Bronze Star. Greenberg’s AIG career had been interesting – he was appointed as one of the company’s top leaders, retired in 2005, and criticized AIG’s directors when he appeared on Good Morning America in 2008. Although he has retired, he and his family are still wealthy because of his investments.
The Trinchero Family – $1.9B
Trinchero Family Estates is the fourth-biggest producer of wine and other wine products in America. The portfolio of Trinchero Family Estates is massive and encompasses over fifty well-known wine brands. In 1947, brothers Mario and John Trinchero acquired the Sutter Home Winery, which is in St. Helena, California. The winery stayed in the family and Mario’s son worked as the lead winemaker following John’s retirement. Mario’s son Bob developed White Zinfandel, which became a really successful brand, and the company also expanded to include other brands like Menage a Trois, Napa Cellars, Napa Valley, and more.
The Johnson Family – $28.5B
The Johnson family (not related to S.C. Johnson, also on this list) founded Fidelity Investments, which is one of the largest investment empires in the U.S. Edward C. Johnson II started the company, and passed it on to his only child, Edward Johnson III (whose nickname is “Ned”), who then passed it on to his daughter Abigail. The official chairwoman, Abigail serves as both president and CEO of the massive international empire, and her extraordinary personal wealth reaches $16.5 billion (the whole family’s net worth is almost $30 billion). She is currently one of the richest women in the world and Forbes recently ranked her as the fifth “Most Powerful Woman” in the world.
The McMahon Family – $3.3B
Vincent J. McMahon founded the wrestling and entertainment conglomerate WWE, and his son Vince (popularly known by his stage persona Mr. McMahon) took over the company and is now the chairman and CEO. Vince is also the founder of Alpha Entertainment, the parent company of many other athletic businesses like XFL Football. He was a WWE athlete himself, an announcer, and comes from a pretty long line of promoters. Vince’s wife, Linda, used to be the CEO of the WWE but is now the administrator for the SBA. They are parents to two children and have six grandchildren.
The Ellison Family – $59.9B
Larry Ellison co-founded Oracle Corporation, which develops cutting-edge hardware and software products, and is one of the world’s top ten richest men. He actually built the business up from scratch by investing around $2,000 (half came from his own pocket) and within only a decade, it has become one of the best tech pioneers in the industry. The patriarch’s wealth has filtered to his children, Megan and David Ellison, who have used their fortune in financing films in Hollywood. David’s recent credits include the blockbusters Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and the upcoming sequel of Top Gun, while Megan has produced more indie films like Phantom Thread, Her, Vice and The Master.
The Walton Family – $151.5B
As of today, the richest family in America would have too be the Walton family. Sam and Bud Walton founded the little-known company called Walmart, which has become the largest retailer in America and ranks among the world’s most profitable companies. Each year, Walmart generates a whopping $482 billion revenue, with the Walton family reaping amazing gains through Walmart and personally pocketing more than a hundred billion dollars. Throughout the years, the Waltons have succeeded in keeping their company share close and they own 50.4% of Walmart.
The Frist Family – $11.9B
The richest man in Tennessee (and one of the wealthiest in America, period) is Thomas Frist, Jr., who formed the Hospital Corporation of America together with his father in the late 1960s. Within a few years, the father-son business grew exponentially, passing the billion-dollar mark, and they have since gone on to become the chair of massive businesses like IBM. In 2006, Frist made the largest buyout in American history and in 2009, he passed his company down to his son Bill. By then, however, Frist was already a leading shaper of the modern healthcare system in America.
The Knight Family – $33.8B
As the story goes, self-made billionaire and Nike founder Phil Knight once asked his father, who ran a local newspaper, if he could get a summer job there but was told he’d learn more finding his own way. The hardcore parenting definitely paid off, with Knight quickly finding his way into sports, the U.S. Army, and then, Japanese shoes. These had provided the kernels which eventually led to his sportswear company, Nike. In 2004, Knight’s son Matthew died from a sudden heart condition while on a scuba diving trip, and his death impacted Knight deeply, which eventually led to Knight stepping down as the CEO of Nike.
The Kohler Family – $8.3B
The Kohler Company is a mighty Wisconsin-based firm that is one of the biggest manufacturers of plumbing supplies in the country. Billionaire Herbert Kohler, Jr. currently heads the family business, which has been passed down through generations, and in fact, he was already running the company’s day-to-day affairs by age 33. The financial success of the firm has led to family investments in manufacturing, hospitality, and government. Actually, Kohler Jr. is an avid golf player and he had a cameo in Open Range, a film which starred Oscar winner and Kohler’s friend Kevin Costner.
The Meijer Family – $7.3B
Based in Michigan, this really large private company is owned by the Meijer family and was established by Hendrik Meijer almost a century ago after he moved from the Netherlands to the U.S.. Five decades later, the business became one of the country’s largest supermarket chains and by the 1960s, its worth had reached billions. Today, Doug and Hank Meijer run the company and they steered the firm to massive success in the twentieth century. While they have since appointed others to oversee the company’s day-to-day affairs, this family business remains booming for the Meijer clan.
The Green Family – $7B
At the beginning of the 1970s, David Green used the money he had – $600 – to start his own company. Within two years, this transformed into the flagship empire of his family: a really large chain of arts and crafts stores called Hobby Lobby. Privately owning Hobby Lobby, Green and his family invested in different religious causes across the globe, though they often got into trouble due to these holdings. Most infamously, the company was caught smuggling various archeological items that were from looted digs in Israel and Iraq – and attempting to use these artifacts in a Bible museum. Hobby Lobby was forced to take the smuggled artifacts back and fined $3 million.
The Sobrato Family – $6.6B
Billionaire John A. Sobrato owns one of the country’s largest real estate firms and he has his mother to largely thank for that. His mother took her inheritance and actually pioneered the industry of real estate. By the time Sobrato was old enough, he started his own real estate company, the Sobrato Organization, which owns land, residential plots and office space from coast to coast. His three children used their incredible wealth for their own investments and achieved massive success, such as his son who is now part owner of the NFL team San Francisco 49ers.
The Love Family – $7B
If you’ve done a road trip across America, you probably stopped at many Love’s (also known as Love’s Travel Stops & Country Store) along the way since it is one of the country’s largest chain of gas and convenience stores. Husband and wife Tom and Judy Love formed the company, which was originally a small service station which they converted themselves. Within ten years, they expanded this throughout America and they now operate in 41 out of 50 states. Love’s has been buying competitors and signing endorsement deals a lot, with the most recent one being a deal to place logos of the NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder in select stores.
The LeFrak Family – $6B
Real estate empire LeFrak was started by the parents of Richard LeFrak, the current CEO, and the company gets credit for practically reconstructing Jersey City. LeFrak has expanded across America in the last three decades, with major projects in Beverly Hills and South Beach, among many others. LeFrak’s two sons, Harrison and James, have vice-chairman positions, and the company remains privately owned, keeping the sky-high earnings of the firm mostly in this powerful family’s pockets.
The Davis Family – $5.9B
It may not be as collectible or splashy as Nike, but New Balance continues to be one of the country’s favorite sports shoes and has been in the business for over a century. A few decades later, American billionaire Jim Davis now runs New Balance, with his leadership being undeniably successful and the sales of New Balance having never been higher. However, Davis and New Balance received criticisms not too long ago for donating money to super right wing political causes, and the widespread revolt continues to cut back the company’s revenues.
The Dolan Family – $5.7B
Media mogul Charles Dolan should be thanked for the rise of prestigious cable TV seeing as he started HBO in the 1970s. He later founded his flagship company, Cablevision, and it spun off into other major cable channels, such as the Sundance Channel, IFC and AMC. Although Dolan doesn’t own Cablevision (or HBO) anymore, his impact simply cannot be denied. His children own major sports teams like the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Indians. In addition, he has a son who serves as a news network’s president, and another who is the chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company.
The Bechtel Family – $3.3B
The fabulous wealth of the Bechtel family is mainly due to their successful massive construction company called the Bechtel Corporation. Over a century ago, cattle farmer Warren Bechtel started the company and within a few decades, it was constructing railroads across America. However, the firm’s biggest moneymaker was its historic project: the Hoover Dam construction in the 1930s. Soon Bechtel was building pipelines, malls, metros and nuclear reactors across the world under the leadership of the current owner Stephen Bechtel Jr., grandson of its original founder, and his son Riley.
The Kravis Family – $5.8B
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co’s business profile is pretty familiar to the investing world seeing as the firm is among the largest of its type, managing massive portfolios which bring in revenue of over a billion dollars a year. A co-founder of the firm is Henry Kravis, who started the company with his fellow alumni from Bear Sterns. One of the biggest risks they took was buying out Nabisco in the 1980s, which was the largest buyout ever in America at the time. Smart acquisitions (like Duracell) made up for losses from not-so-smart purchases (like Regal Cinemas), and the firm has significantly expanded its overseas market, with their most recent purchase of a motion picture studio as well as German media companies.
The Gallo Family – $10.7B
The Gallos have been in the business of producing wine for almost a century, and their original patriarch, Giuseppe Gallo, actually immigrated from Fossano, Italy to America in the early 20th century. He first did menial labor jobs before starting a vintner business and finding a winery. After Giuseppe’s death, his winery was passed to his children Ernest and Julio, who established the E. & J. Gallo Winery officially. Their other brother, Joseph, made cheese and founded the huge Joseph Gallo Farms empire. Together, the family is currently the largest producer of wine that is based in the U.S..
The Filo Family – $4.9B
In the mid ‘90s, at the start of the Internet era, David Filo, a computer engineer, co-founded a small company which would eventually become an empire. His unique software code provided the backbone Yahoo!, one of the biggest search engines today. One of the world’s most profitable Internet companies, Yahoo! has transformed Filo into a crucial pillar of Silicon Valley. The company spun off several profitable microsites, web hubs and portals, each further cementing the reputation of Yahoo! as a leading provider, and it currently has almost 9,000 employees all over the world.
The Busch Family – $13.4B
The first Budweiser Beer was cooked up by Adolphus Busch way back in 1876. When Prohibition started and the United States banned alcohol, the company nearly went under and had to sell soda and ice cream to make it through. In the 20th century, Budweiser continued to have a lot of highs and lows, with the company recently experiencing a hostile takeover by some Belgian investors. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, 25 percent of the business had been sold by the Busch family, but the recent hostile takeover forced a buyout of $52 billion. Since then, the family has started a smaller company that operates in Texas and is called William K. Busch Brewing.
The Penske Family – $2B
One of the largest transportation service corporations in the world, Penske Corporation nets a billion dollars in revenue every year. It has been privately owned by its founder, Roger Penske, ever since the late 1960s. At the time, Penske was one of the most recognized auto racer in U.S. history and he was even named Driver of the Year in 1961 by Sports Illustrated. Penske used his knowledge of the track in the business world and it was clearly a win-win, seeing as the skilled motorist could ideally help design custom car maintenance parts and services.
The Yang Family – $2.6B
Jerry Yang, a Taiwanese American electronic engineer, befriended the young software engineer David Filo at Stanford, and a few years later, they created a small web portal. The company soon turned into the enormous Internet empire Yahoo! Yang run the company’s business side, spearheading several major buys, including a large stake in Alibaba. Yang may have left Yahoo! a couple of years ago, but he’s since started a number of other Internet-based firms and successful hedge funds. His latest venture called AME Cloud Ventures gives investments to many startups and he’s currently on the board of directors of Alibaba.
The Huizenga Family – $2.6B
In the mid 1890s, the Huizenga clan immigrated to America and their ventures in hotels and waste management helped cement the status of their family. In 1987, Huizenga (Wayne) made a really fortuitous investment by acquiring Blockbuster Video, and within a few years, the business transformed the Huizenga family into one of the wealthiest dynasties in America. Wayne Huizenga grew that fortune even more by starting a successful auto parts company called AutoNation. In addition, he was the owner of the sports teams Florida Panthers and Florida Marlins, and he had a minority stake on the NFL team Miami Dolphins, before passing away in 2018.
The Kroenke Family – $8.5B
One of the country’s leading sports dynasties is the Kroenke family. Collectively, this family’s member own many leading teams in almost every professional sport – including basketball, football, ice hockey and lacrosse. These dividends (including a number of ventures in radio, media production and real estate) all fall under the flagship umbrella conglomerate of the family, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. Stan Kroenke is married to Ann (a direct heir to Walmart’s fortune) and together, they own the Los Angeles Rams, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids, the Colorado Avalanche, the Los Angeles Gladiators, and the English football club Arsenal, among many others.
The Milken Family – $3.7B
The Milkens – more specifically, Michael Milken – are infamously wealthy due to Michael’s role in a really big insider trading scam that rocked Wall Street for many generations. He is mainly seen as an architect of junk bonds, are high-yield and poorly rated bonds that financiers grouped together to dupe investors and creditors into buying them. In the late 1980s, the junk bonds proliferation eventually triggered a great domino effect of defaults. Michael Milken pled guilty to charges and was in prison for two years, but in the last few years, he has made attempts to change his public image for the better by investing his money in cancer research. Actually, Milken also survived prostate cancer.
The Gores Family – $4B
The Gores family hails from Nazareth, a Christian city in modern-day Israel, and they moved to America in the ‘70s, quickly entering the buyout business. Tom Gores eventually found their flagship company, Platinum Equity, which is based in Beverly Hills but has a global reach. Its specialty is leveraged buyout investments and within its first years, it earned almost $1 billion in revenue coming from many precision buyouts. Today, billionaire entrepreneur Tom Gores operates Platinum Equity and has capitalized on his success in business by buying the NBA team Detroit Pistons.
The Samueli Family – $3.8B
Broadcom Corporation produced some of the world’s most cutting edge electronics components and semiconductors and is owned by Henry Samueli. While he was a UCLA professor, he co-founded the company, which was initially set up for around ten grand and rocketed to success in just a few years. Samueli, who is now a billionaire, used his money to buy the NHL team Anaheim Ducks, and one of the biggest changes he has done to the team was relocating it to San Diego. The many ventures he has established continue to grow the empire of his family with each passing year.
The Kordestani Family – $1.4B
In the early 1990s, Iranian-born Omid Kordestani came across one of the tremendous opportunities in tech history when the electrical engineering genius began running sales and business development at Netscape. Almost every Internet company in the world noticed him, and Google soon got him as their Chief Business Officer. He is credited for turning Google into an international powerhouse in the late 2000s, but his biggest venture was when he got appointed as Twitter’s Executive Chairman in 2015. Kordestani continues to serve there today, and his several high-stakes positions in companies that are some of the biggest in the tech world have made him, along with his family, insanely wealthy.
The Parasol Family – $1B
PartyGaming and PartyPoker are massive gaming empires which have given the Parasol family their enormous and jaw-dropping fortune. Ruth Parasol worked as an engineer prior to starting her online casino back in the late ‘90s. It operated in the Caribbean at the time, but when it got successful really quickly, it was rebranded and became PArtyPoker.com, which soon started netting over 500 million dollars in revenue every year. In 2014, the family’s net worth suffered due to a federal investigation and Parasol’s divorce from her husband.
The Golisano Family – $3.1B
Young business owners are probably familiar with the company Paychex, which is one of the leading payroll service providers in the country. In the early 1970s, Tom Golisano founded the company with only a few thousand dollars and just within the decade, it became extremely successful, reaching the $2 billion mark in 2010. Golisano no longer runs the day-to-day affairs of the company, but owning majority stakes in sports teams, such as the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Bandits did keep him busy for some time. The Golisano family still donates millions to charity every year.
The Cox Family – $33.6B
Back in 1898, James M. Cox bought the small, local publication The Dayton Evening News. After he purchased the company, he slowly grew it and eventually turned it into the massive telecom empire known as Cox Enterprises, with holdings in radio, television, broadband Internet and cable service. The family’s flagship businesses are Cox Enterprises and Cox Media Group, which shaped the telecom sector in America, especially in the age of the Internet. Recently, the family acquired DealerTrack, a company that creates software for car dealerships.
The Carey Family – $300M
Mariah Carey’s incredible wealth can allow the family of the Platinum-selling recording sensation to coast for generations, and her record sales alone are enough to make the pop superstar one of the all-time best-selling artists. In addition, Carey’s numerous music licenses, world tours, and sponsorship deals have built up a side fortune for the Carey family. Her two children are too young right now to fully appreciate the family’s $300 million fortune, but that may change when they start longing for a car collection. While Carey’s divorces have split her fortune over the years, her record sales of more than 200 million worldwide tell everyone she’ll probably be fine.
The Goldman Family – $13.7B
The Goldman family’s massive empire started when Sol Goldman decided to go into real estate during the Great Depression, making money on foreclosed properties. Goldman was only sixteen when he purchased properties from his neighbors at dirt-cheap prices and waited out The Depression. He then went into a partnership with Alex DiLorenzo in the ‘50s and the two continued an active buy-up of real estate. Goldman purchased more than six-hundred buildings, including the Chrysler building that foreclosed in the 1970s, and made money by signing long-term leases with tenants.
The Pitt Family – $300M
When he moved to Los Angeles, Brad Pitt eventually carved out a kingdom in Hollywood during the ‘90s. While he first started in the industry, he was only an actor but he has transitioned to producing films (he won an Academy Award for producing 12 Years a Slave). Pitt has used his massive wealth to purchase real estate and vineyards, and launch his own wine and olive oil brand. Pitt and his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie, share custody of their six children, a pair of twins and their four adopted children.
The Cargill-MacMillan Family – $42.3B
There are at least 14 billionaires in the Cargill-MacMillan family and aside from being one of the richest families in America, they are also one of the world’s wealthiest. Cargill produces palm oil and grain, and it trades in energy, transport, and steel. In addition, it has a hand in feed production, feed ingredients production, and raising livestock. Cargill is the largest privately-owned corporation in the U.S. and the family still owns 90% of the shares. Cargill is privately owned, so it does not need to disclose financial information, which means the family might even be richer than estimated.
The Powell-Jobs Family – $10.2B
The former CEO of Apple, Inc. Steve Jobs was married to Lauren Powell (the two wed in 1991). Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976 with the goal of creating and selling a revolutionary personal computer. The Apple I was a moderately successful computer, but it was Apple II which truly brought them to a whole different level of fame. The company has since grown to a massive conglomerate, which has made the Powell-Jobs clan very wealthy. Sadly, Jobs received a cancer diagnosis in 2003 and died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.
The Du Pont Family – $14.3B
The Du Ponts have actually been among of the richest families in the country since around the mid-19th century and their wealth first came from a gunpowder business that succeeded and gained the benefits of World Wars I and II. At the start of the 20th century, the Du Ponts expanded into the automotive and chemical industries. They also own large estates which they open to the public at times, including some of the most luxurious museums, gardens, and parks in America. Today, there are over 3,500 members in the Du Pont family, sharing the massive multi-billion-dollar fortune!
The Carter Family – $1.3B
Rapper Jay-Z Well and world-renowned diva Beyoncé are one of the massive power couples in contemporary history and their net worth is also one of the biggest in America. Together, the Carter family has a net worth of around $1.3 billion, and they have Jay-Z, along with his record company, Roc Nation, to thank for most of their success. The label has produced a lot of the best-selling and biggest albums of the last decade. The Carters’ enormous wealth continue to accumulate with the couple touring the world, pumping out music, and making various investments.
The West Family – $1.5B
The rapper Kanye West has sold more records than nearly all other musicians in history, but his unstable business ventures – especially his apparel company, Yeezy, and his streaming label, Tidal – often affects his finances. West invested a lot of his own money into starting the unique brand of clothing that is called Yeezy. As of last year, it was valued at more than $1 billion, which is almost the same estimate that Kim Kardashian, West’s wife, says of her husband’s net worth. That figure together with West’s franchise sales and other investments put him at $1.5 billion – that is, until the next outburst.
The S.C. Johnson Family – $28.2B
The S.C. Johnson family (not related to the other Johnsons on this list) owns S.C. Johnson, which is a massive manufacturer of household goods. S.C. Johnson originally started the business back in 1886 and only dealt in parquet flooring at the time. After the company developed a successful floor wax, it got to a different level of success, and today, it produces a wide range of cleaning products including Glade and Pledge, and America’s favorite sealable baggies, Ziploc. When Herbert Johnson passed away, he didn’t leave a will, which resulted in a fierce legal battle among the remaining family members.
The Hastings Family – $2.2B
Reed Hastings is the most well-known member of the Hastings family, and for good reason – he founded Netflix. The software company Adaptive was where he had his first tech job and he went on to create a tool that can remove bugs from software. Hastings then founded Pure Software and Rational Software later bought out before it lost a lot of value. He founded Netflix, which was a movie-rental site at first and achieved success in the late 1990s. However, it only became the huge giant that it now is relatively recently due to the rising popularity of Internet TV.
The Beveridge Family – $2.5B
The patriarch, Bert Beveridge, founded a company and called it Tito’s Handmade Vodka, after his own nickname which was Tito. Based in Texas, the company immediately became successful, selling almost forty-five million bottles. Beveridge’s career used to be in the oil and gas industry, traveling to Venezuela and Columbia, and he was briefly in the mortgage trade as well. He got his start in the alcohol business when he made flavored vodka for Christmas gifts that he would give his friends.
The Vandersloot Family – $3.4B
Frank Vandersloot’s brother-in-law actually founded Oil of Melaleuca, which sold tea tree oil. At the time, it didn’t have enough space on the market to be successful. In addition, the company ran into some issues with the FDA due to accusations of inflating medical stats to make their product more saleable. Frank ended up dissolving the company, later referring to it as “a mess” in interviews. Melaleuca was later rebooted by Frank himself, and now sells nutritional supplements, cleaning supplies and homecare products.
The Kibar Family – $2.8B
Osman Kibar founded the biotech firm Samumed (he also serves as the CEO), which is largely focused on anti-aging meds. Because of the success of the firm, its value is now placed at $12.4 billion. Kibar also founded two more companies, though he didn’t have a management position in the companies. The drug giant Pfizer originally owned Samumed, but after a falling-out, Samumed is now independent.
The Vultaggio Family – $3B
The colorful character and billionaire Don Vultaggio co-founded Arizona Beverages, known for their colorful cans of delicious fruit punch, green tea, iced tea, and other drinks, especially the “Arnold Palmer” mix of iced tea and lemonade. Vultaggio first sold beer and soda from a van in some of Brooklyn’s seediest streets, and made a profit since there was no one else selling there in the ‘70s. He started Arizona in Brooklyn in 1992, with his hit can design (more colorful and taller), and managed to outpace the competition quickly. Every year, Arizona sells around three billion cans, with the Arnold Palmer drinks and green tea selling the best.
The Bundrant Family – $3B
The Bundrant family owns Trident Seafoods, the biggest vertically-integrated fish company in North America. It harvests and processes the fresh and frozen seafood, and it controls its own marketing as well. Trident made a ton of money selling to bigger chains like Long John Silver’s, Costco, Safeway, and other fast food chains. The company expanded globally, and it now has operations in China, Japan, and Germany.
The Asness Family – $3B
The Asness family is headed by Cliff Asness, who attended the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania. He got into the Ph.D. program and he became the assistant of the well-known market theorist Eugene Fama. In his dissertation, Asness went against Fama, writing a famous paper where he disputes the nature of making profit in business. He established his own capital management company and also became an activist, who often speaks out against the high fees in hedge fund management and what he refers to as “crony capitalism.”
The Shah Family – $5.6B
The youngest son of the Shah family, Rishi Shah, actually leads this empire. He started his own business known today as Outcome Health, a true leader in healthcare media. Outcome Health integrates new technology into the waiting rooms and makes money through advertisements on the touchscreens. Shah’s father dropped out as a doctor, and started a different company, which merged with another firm and became Outcome Health. Rishi is currently the CEO of the company valued at $5.6 billion today.
The Ashkenazy Family – $4B
Ben Ashkenazy, the patriarch, started in real estate back when he was only seventeen years old. He originally dreamed of buying a place to open a fast food restaurant, but felt that what he found was very much below market value, and instead decided to lease it. During that process, he got inspired to start a venture own in real estate, which eventually became the successful Ashkenazy Acquisitions. The company’s portfolio is worth about twelve billion dollars, contains real estate transactions both domestically and globally, and with varied real estate ventures from commercial to residential to government-owned.
The Jackson Family – $2B (Estimated)
The King of Pop may have passed away years ago, but Michael Jackson’s family is still getting richer and richer every day. Jackson’s sudden passing in 2009 drove fans to buy his records quicker than ever before! Today, his children and his extended family receives millions from Jackson’s estate, and Neverland Ranch itself is still one of America’s most expensive piece of real estate. Jackson faced a lot of controversies during his life and this continues to follow him after his death, but he is still one of the most profitable musicians ever.
The Mellon Family – $11.5B
In 1869, the Mellon family founded the Mellon Bank but their wealth skyrocketed when they made investments in Gulf Oil – which later became Chevron-Texaco. Other investments include New York Shipbuilding, Alcoa, Carborundum Corporation, and the news publication The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Well-known for their various philanthropic ventures, the Mellons founded the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The family’s origins can be traced back to Ireland owing to the original patriarch of the family, Thomas Mellon, who had Scottish-Irish farmers for parents and whose family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1800s.
The Kraft Family – $6.6 billion
One of the wealthiest sports owners ever, Robert Kraft is a Massachusetts-born businessman who owns the New England Patriots. Kraft’s earliest success was actually the extremely popular International Forest Products company. This firm manufactured paper packaging products and provided them to the biggest companies in the world – Avon, Quaker Oats and Kodak to name a few. With his millions, Kraft quickly started purchasing sports teams, including several soccer teams and an e-sport team, though without a doubt, the New England Patriots is his crowned jewel.