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20 richest families in America

Written by:
October 20, 2022
Updated on June 20, 2024
Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images

20 richest families in America

Americans are enthralled with watching the lifestyles of the rich and famous unfold on TV and social media. Despite the extravagant cars and vacations showcased on certain programming franchises, the wealth of these celebrities pales in comparison to some of America's richest families.

And, as the adage goes, the rich are only getting richer. As of April 2024, America's so-called "great wealth transfer" is in motion, leading to trillions of dollars in inheritance flowing from older to younger generations over the next 20 years. But the vast majority of that transfer will take place among America's wealthiest 10%, who own the bulk of the nation's assets.

To find out which family holds the most wealth, Stacker compiled a list of the 20 richest families in America using 2024 data from Forbes. Families are ranked in ascending order by their total wealth, with the richest family taking the #1 spot on this list.

The gap in net worth between the #20 and the #1 richest family is surprisingly wide, with the wealthiest family in America now worth more than $267 billion and the 20th worth $18.8 billion. When added together, the 20 families on this list have a combined net worth of nearly $1 trillion. If these families were a country, they'd be the 20th richest nation in the world as these families are wealthier than Switzerland, Ireland, and Taiwan when ranked by gross domestic product. Meanwhile, the wealth disparity in the U.S. continues to skyrocket, with the top 0.1% of households holding nearly 14% of the country's wealth, as of the first quarter of 2024; the top 10% of households hold a whopping 67%.

Most of America's richest families charted their paths to massive wealth in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some struck it rich by discovering oil in the American South or founding a local business, while others made risky but smart investments. The ancestors of America's wealthy families were also able to turn failing businesses, like breweries and newspapers, into global enterprises.

While some clans have kept low profiles for over a century, others have gained national attention and name recognition for inheritance battles, affairs, political scandals, and illegal practices. From the world's largest alcohol manufacturers to grocers, investors, and oil barons, check out the 20 richest families in America.

#20. Butt family

- Net worth: $18.8 billion
- Number of family members: 18
- Source of wealth: Supermarkets
- Headquarters: San Antonio

Florence Butt founded the C.C. Butt Grocery Store, now called H-E-B Grocery, in 1905. The family-controlled company has since expanded with hundreds of stores across Texas and Mexico.

#19. Taylor family

- Net worth: $19 billion
- Number of family members: 11
- Source of wealth: Enterprise Rent-A-Car
- Headquarters: St. Louis

The Taylor family runs a car rental empire through their company Enterprise Mobility, which was founded by World War II veteran Jack Taylor in 1957. Today, Enterprise is based in the U.S. but operates in nearly 100 countries and territories worldwide.

#18. Millstone-Winter-Heyman families

- Net worth: $19.2 billion
- Number of family members: Data not available
- Source of wealth: Roofing, chemicals
- Headquarters: Data not available

The Millstone, Winter, and Heyman families established a toehold in the industrial manufacturing field in 1983 when Sam Heyman took over roofing company GAF. Heyman further branched out into investments in real estate and chemical production. Now known as Standard Industries, the family business has been run by Heyman's sons-in-law, David Millstone and David Winter, since his death in 2009. Millstone and Winter have since made significant strides in solar roofing.

#17. Smith family

- Net worth: $19.8 billion
- Number of family members: 60 (estimated)
- Source of wealth: Tools, banking
- Headquarters: Chicago

The Smiths have been making money in Chicago since Byron Laflin Smith started the Northern Trust bank in 1889. His descendants ran the bank for the following 90 years until Edward Smith stepped down from his role as CEO in 1979. The family still holds 1% of Northern Trust's shares, though most of the Smiths' income stems from their holdings in Illinois Tool Works, another one of Byron's investments.

#16. Reyes family

- Net worth: $19.9 billion
- Number of family members: 3
- Source of wealth: Food & beer distribution
- Headquarters: Chicago

The Reyes brothers—Chris, Jude, Duke, James, Tom, and William—run Reyes Holdings, a food and beverage company. Founded in 1974 by Chris, Jude, and their father, Reyes Holdings has $40 billion in sales and is one of the top 10 largest private companies in America.

#15. Busch family

- Net worth: $20 billion
- Number of family members: 30 (estimated)
- Source of wealth: Anheuser-Busch
- Headquarters: St. Louis

The Busch family legacy began when Adolphus Busch took over a St. Louis brewery in the late 1800s. That same brewery later became Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest breweries in the world. Despite its wild success, the family sold the company in 2008, though Billy Busch (Adolphus' great-grandson) attempted to buy back Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand in 2023.

#14. Hearst family

- Net worth: $22.4 billion
- Number of family members: 70
- Source of wealth: Hearst Corp.
- Headquarters: New York City

The Hearst family originally gained wealth and notoriety for its mining businesses in the 1880s. However, William Randolph Hearst Jr. made a name for himself by creating the first nationwide media company. Today, Hearst Communications owns hundreds of newspapers and magazines around the world and has investments in cable TV channels such as ESPN, Lifetime, and A&E.

#13. Newhouse family

- Net worth: $24.1 billion
- Number of family members: 23
- Source of wealth: Magazines, newspapers
- Headquarters: New York City

Samuel Irving Newhouse began what is now an international multimedia publisher with the purchase of the Staten Island Advance in 1922, creating Advance Publications Inc. Now led by S.I., Steven, and Michael Newhouse, Advance's holdings include Condé Nast, Stage Entertainment, American City Business Journals, and Reddit, among others.

#12. Hunt family

- Net worth: $24.8 billion
- Number of family members: 24
- Source of wealth: Oil
- Headquarters: Dallas

H.L. Hunt started his family's fortune when he struck oil throughout the American South and was regarded as one of the wealthiest men in America before his death in 1974Though his eldest children sold Hunt Petroleum for $4.2 billion in 2008, the family maintains holdings in Hunt Oil and Petro-Hunt, as well as sports teams like the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.

#11. Lauder family

- Net worth: $25.9 billion
- Number of family members: 10
- Source of wealth: Estee Lauder
- Headquarters: New York City

Lauder family members are cosmetics tycoons known for the Estée Lauder brand. The family's matriarch founded the company with her husband in 1946, and today, the third generation of Lauders—William, Ronald, Aerin, and Jane—help guide the company's growth and leadership.

#10. Cox family

- Net worth: $26.8 billion
- Number of family members: 31
- Source of wealth: Media
- Headquarters: Atlanta

The Cox family started amassing its billion-dollar fortune in 1898 after James M. Cox purchased the Daytona Evening News. Today, Cox Enterprises includes telecommunications companies Cox Communications and Cox Media Group.

#9. Duncan family

- Net worth: $30 billion
- Number of family members: 4
- Source of wealth: Pipelines
- Headquarters: Houston

The son of an oil worker, Dan Duncan founded Enterprise Products Partners in 1968. He later became one of the largest pipeline operators in the United States. Today, his eldest daughter, Randa Duncan Williams, chairs the Enterprise Products Partners board.

#8. Cathy family

- Net worth: $33.6 billion
- Number of family members: 35
- Source of wealth: Chick-fil-A
- Headquarters: Atlanta

The Cathys know how to produce fried chicken sandwiches and have built a family fortune with their Chick-fil-A empire. Samuel Truett Cathy, a businessman, investor, and Southern Baptist, founded the family business in Hapeville, Georgia, in 1946.

Many of Cathy's business decisions stemmed from his Christian beliefs, including his "closed-on-Sundays" policy, which observes Sundays as a day of rest. Many would think being closed on Sundays would financially affect the popular fast-food chain, but the Cathys are still in the billionaires club.

#7. S.C. Johnson family

- Net worth: $38.5 billion
- Number of family members: 68
- Source of wealth: Cleaning products
- Headquarters: Racine, Wisconsin

Samuel Curtis Johnson is the founder and namesake of the family-owned SC Johnson company. In the 1800s, Johnson's parquet flooring business grew after he invented the company's floor wax. Today, the family is worth nearly $40 billion and owns brands like Glade and Ziploc.

#6. Pritzker family

- Net worth: $41.6 billion
- Number of family members: 50 (estimated)
- Source of wealth: hotels, Investments
- Headquarters: Chicago

Abram Nicholas Pritzker was the son of Ukrainian immigrants who settled in Chicago in the 1880s. He grew his wealth by purchasing real estate and businesses in the area, and today, the Pritzker family is known for building the Hyatt Hotel chain, among other enterprises.

#5. Edward Johnson family

- Net worth: $44.8 billion
- Number of family members: 6
- Source of wealth: Money management
- Headquarters: Boston

In 1946, Edward C. Johnson II founded the Fidelity Management & Research Company. Today, the privately owned company is managed by his granddaughter, Abigail.

#4. Cargill-MacMillan family

- Net worth: $60.6 billion
- Number of family members: 90 (estimated)
- Source of wealth: Cargill Inc.
- Headquarters: Minneapolis

According to Forbes, the Cargill-MacMillan family has 14 billionaires, the most of any family in the world. Cargill Inc. is worth nearly $62 billion as of 2023 and produces and distributes food items including sugar, turkey, and chocolate.

#3. Koch family

- Net worth: $116 billion
- Number of family members: 13
- Source of wealth: Diversified
- Headquarters: Wichita, Kansas

The Koch family owns Koch Industries, one of the largest privately owned companies in the United States. Brothers David and Charles also are widely known for their impact on American politics. David died in August 2019.

#2. Mars family

- Net worth: $117 billion
- Number of family members: 31
- Source of wealth: Candy
- Headquarters: McLean, Virginia

The Mars family owns Mars Inc., which produces Snickers, M&M's, Twix, and other popular candy bars. The family has kept a low profile for over 100 years, but their candy company is making strides on climate change and fair labor practices.

#1. Walton family

- Net worth: $267 billion
- Number of family members: 7
- Source of wealth: Walmart
- Headquarters: Bentonville, Arkansas

The Walton family's wealth began when Sam Walton established the first Walmart in 1962. Today, Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, with more than 10,500 stores as of April 2024.

Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Additional writing by Cu Fleshman. Story editing by Jaimie Etkin. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.

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