Elon Musk looking up as he addresses guests at the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 (ONS) meeting in Stavanger, Norway, on August 29, 2022.

25 richest people in America and how they did it

December 2, 2022
CARINA JOHANSEN // Getty Images

25 richest people in America and how they did it

A shot at the Powerball jackpot or an unexpected holiday gift can make you feel like a million bucks. But there are people in the nation who are making millions every day. Some became entrepreneurs straight out of college; others worked at companies for years before conceiving life-changing inventions. Some of America's most affluent people inherited their wealth, while others' path to prosperity has all the makings of a rags-to-riches story. Who are the wealthiest people in America, and how have they maintained financial success?

There are many ways to make money in America, from technology to investments to software development. Stacker compiled a list of the 25 wealthiest people in the nation. These individuals are ranked by estimated net worth, using Forbes 400 (Real Time) data accessed in November 2022. The list starts with people with tens of billions of dollars and climbs even higher, finishing with one person reported to be worth $200 billion.

Continue reading to see where a shoe designer, Microsoft's co-founders, and department store moguls rank on this list of the richest people in the country.

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Jim Simons attending the 23rd Annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 13, 2022, in New York City.
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Roy Rochlin // Getty Images

#25. Jim Simons

- Estimated net worth: $28.1 billion
- Age: 84
- State of residence: New York
- Source of wealth: hedge funds

Famed mathematician Jim Simons left his academic career to helm the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies at 40. Simons pioneered the stock market industry with his data-driven approach. His methods are widely used in the stock market industry to this day.

Stephen Schwarzman on center stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2019.
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David Fitzgerald // Getty Images

#24. Stephen Schwarzman

- Estimated net worth: $29.1 billion
- Age: 75
- State of residence: New York
- Source of wealth: investments

After leaving financial services firm Lehman Brothers in the 1980s, Stephen Schwarzman partnered with his friend Pete Peterson to start another investment firm, Blackstone Group. Blackstone Group expanded and led to Schwarzman's success as a sought-after broker, providing advice to clients like the Department of the Treasury.

The Irish Financial Services Centre, home of SIG's European Headquarters.
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Eric Jones // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Jeff Yass

- Estimated net worth: $30 billion
- Age: 66
- State of residence: Pennsylvania
- Source of wealth: trading, investments

Jeff Yass started as an accountant and was a professional gambler for a while. But eventually, he became a corporate executive and, in 1987, co-founded the investment company that became Susquehanna International Group. SIG has invested in numerous companies globally and has donated millions to conservative political groups and candidates.

Len Blavatnik arriving at the Warner Music Group Pre-Grammy Celebration at Nomad Hotel Los Angeles on February 7, 2019.
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Gregg DeGuire // Getty Images

#22. Len Blavatnik

- Estimated net worth: $30.7 billion
- Age: 65
- State of residence: New York
- Source of wealth: music, chemicals

Len Blavatnik has a diversified portfolio of investments. The billionaire business magnate is known for his high-reward but risky business deals, from oil to chemicals to music. Blavatnik has stakes in the chemical company LyondellBasell, clothing retailer Tory Burch, Warner Music Group, and Spotify.

Ken Griffin participating in a panel discussion during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
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Michael Kovac // Getty Images

#21. Ken Griffin

- Estimated net worth: $30.8 billion
- Age: 54
- State of residence: Florida
- Source of wealth: hedge funds

Ken Griffin is the founder of Citadel, the Florida-based hedge fund where he's made the bulk of his fortune. During his undergraduate days at Harvard University, Griffin started investing and placed a satellite dish on the roof of his dorm to obtain real-time stock data.

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Jacqueline Mars, center, and her granddaughters, Graysen Airth, left, and Katherine Burgstahler, right, arriving for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors.
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Pool // Getty Images

#19. Jacqueline Mars (tie)

- Estimated net worth: $37 billion
- Age: 83
- State of residence: Virginia
- Source of wealth: candy, pet food

M&M's, Snickers, Skittles, and Milky Way are all products of Mars, the candymaker partially owned by Jacqueline Mars, who inherited the company from her family, which founded its first factory in 1911. Today, Mars oversees the candymaker's various products beyond candy, including chewing gum and pet care products.

Queen Elizabeth II presenting American businessman John Mars with an honorary Knighthood at Windsor Castle on April 29, 2015 in Windsor, England.
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WPA Pool // Getty Images

#19. John Mars (tie)

- Estimated net worth: $37 billion
- Age: 87
- State of residence: Wyoming
- Source of wealth: candy, pet food

Alongside his sister Jacqueline, John Mars owns the Mars manufacturing company, which produces candy, chewing gum, and pet care products. In 2015, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

MacKenzie Scott attending the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 04, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California.
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Toni Anne Barson // Getty Images

#18. MacKenzie Scott

- Estimated net worth: $37.7 billion
- Age: 52
- State of residence: Washington
- Source of wealth: Amazon

After Mackenzie Scott and her ex-husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, divorced in 2019, Mackenzie inherited a 4% stake in Amazon's shares, valued at $38 billion.

The former couple met in 1992 when they both worked for D.E. Shaw, a New York hedge fund, and married the following year. It was Scott who encouraged Bezos to launch an online business. Since becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world, Scott has dedicated a large portion of her wealth to philanthropic initiatives.

Founder and current chairman emeritus of Nike, Inc Phil Knight standing on the sidelines before the NCAAF game between the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 23, 2019, in Tempe, Arizona.
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Christian Petersen // Getty Images

#17. Phil Knight & family

- Estimated net worth: $41.5 billion
- Age: 84
- State of residence: Oregon
- Source of wealth: Nike

Before becoming the co-founder of sneaker giant Nike, Phil Knight had joined the University of Oregon track team. There, Knight became good friends with coach Bill Bowerman, who would later become his business partner. Soon after completing a business program, Knight borrowed $50 from his father to import high-quality running shoes from Japan at an affordable cost. The shoe mogul has undoubtedly come a long way from selling sneakers out of the trunk of his car in 1964, earning $8,000 in his first year. As of November 2022, the Nike brand is worth over $40 billion.

Michael Dell speaking onstage at Decades Not Days: Investing & Entrepreneurship during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Hilton Austin on March 14, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
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Diego Donamaria // Getty Images

#16. Michael Dell

- Estimated net worth: $50 billion
- Age: 57
- State of residence: Texas
- Source of wealth: Dell Technologies

Michael Dell's dream of developing and selling computers began in his dorm room at the University of Texas. Less than 10 years later, he became the founder and CEO of Dell. Dell's vision for computers was the ability for consumers to buy machines customized to their needs. Today, the computer technology market is worth $13.5 billion.

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Alice Walton speaking onstage during the Getty Medal Dinner 2022 at Getty Center on October 03, 2022, in Los Angeles, California.
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Stefanie Keenan // Getty Images

#15. Alice Walton

- Estimated net worth: $55.7 billion
- Age: 73
- State of residence: Texas
- Source of wealth: Walmart

Alice Walton inherited Walmart from her father, Sam Walton, who established the company in Arkansas in 1962. Alice is known for her curation and support of the arts and is considered one of the richest women in the world, according to Forbes.

Charles Koch standing for a portrait after an interview with the Washington Post at the Freedom Partners Summit on Monday, August 3, 2015, in Dana Point, California.
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The Washington Post // Getty Images

#13. Charles Koch (tie)

- Estimated net worth: $56 billion
- Age: 87
- State of residence: Kansas
- Source of wealth: Koch Industries

Charles Koch is the chairman of Koch Industries, the far-reaching corporation involved in oil production, chemicals, commodity trading, and investing. He inherited Koch Industries from his father, Fred Koch, and co-owned the company with his brother David, who passed away at age 79 in 2019. The two brothers are known for their involvement in conservative politics and think tanks.

Julia Koch at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History on January 28, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
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Patrick McMullan // Getty Images

#13. Julia Koch & family (tie)

- Estimated net worth: $56 billion
- Age: 60
- State of residence: New York
- Source of wealth: Koch Industries

Julia Koch and her three children were bequeathed a 42% stake in the business co-owned by her late husband, David Koch. Koch Industries refines oil and manufactures fertilizer and paper products. The couple, who met on a blind date in the early '90s, were philanthropists and collectively donated millions to Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Stanford Children's Hospital.

Owner Rob Walton of the Denver Broncos looking on before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 02, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Ethan Miller // Getty Images

#12. Rob Walton

- Estimated net worth: $56.7 billion
- Age: 78
- State of residence: Arkansas
- Source of wealth: Walmart

Rob Walton is the son of the late Sam Walton, who founded Walmart, the largest retailer in the world. After Sam passed away, Rob took over as Walmart's chairman in 1992. In June 2022, the Walmart heir and his family purchased the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, the most expensive sale price for an American sports team. Walton outbid other groups who also bid well over $4 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Facebook, at Elysee Palace on May 10, 2019, in Paris, France.
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Marc Piasecki // Getty Images

#11. Mark Zuckerberg

- Estimated net worth: $57.7 billion
- Age: 38
- State of residence: California
- Source of wealth: Facebook

As the well-known story goes, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his dorm room at Harvard University in 2004. Less than 15 years later, the social media platform—worth more than $290 billion—has nearly 3 billion users and is credited with connecting people worldwide. It has also been at the center of several misinformation and political propaganda scandals, some of which have required Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. Zuckerberg remains the company's CEO and is expanding his interests in philanthropy.

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Jim Walton clapping at the Walmart shareholders meeting event on June 1, 2018, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
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Rick T. Wilking // Getty Images

#10. Jim Walton

- Estimated net worth: $57.9 billion
- Age: 74
- State of residence: Arkansas
- Source of wealth: Walmart

Like his siblings Alice and Rob, Jim Walton inherited a share of Walmart from his father. Today, he runs Arvest Bank, an Arkansas-based financial services company.

Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg attending the opening night of "The Music Man" on Broadway at Winter Garden Theatre on February 10, 2022, in New York City.
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Noam Galai // Getty Images

#9. Michael Bloomberg

- Estimated net worth: $76.8 billion
- Age: 80
- State of residence: New York
- Source of wealth: Bloomberg LP

In 1981, Michael Bloomberg founded the financial information company Bloomberg LP. With revenues of more than $9 billion, the company would later develop Bloomberg News and services for financial trading. Bloomberg also had a political career as mayor of New York City between 2002 and 2013.

Steve Ballmer speaking onstage during the 2018 New York Times Dealbook on November 1, 2018, in New York City.
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Michael Cohen // Getty Images

#8. Steve Ballmer

- Estimated net worth: $83 billion
- Age: 66
- State of residence: Washington
- Source of wealth: Microsoft

Business tycoon Steve Ballmer began his career at Microsoft and became the company's president in 1998, then CEO in 2000. He purchased the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise in 2014 for $2 billion.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin gesturing during a session of the World Economic Forum, on January 19, 2017, in Davos.
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FABRICE COFFRINI // Getty Images

#7. Sergey Brin

- Estimated net worth: $89 billion
- Age: 49
- State of residence: California
- Source of wealth: Google

Sergey Brin runs Alphabet, the conglomerate organization best known for owning Google. Brin co-founded Google in 1998 with Larry Page after they met at Stanford University. Google owns 90% of the search engine market, bolstered by nonsearch products like Google Chrome and Google Home.

Larry Page speaking during the Fortune Global Forum at the Legion Of Honor on November 2, 2015, in San Francisco, California.
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Kimberly White // Getty Images

#6. Larry Page

- Estimated net worth: $93 billion
- Age: 49
- State of residence: California
- Source of wealth: Google

Computer scientist Larry Page revolutionized the online search engine with the invention of Google alongside co-founder Sergey Brin. The two created the company in 1998 and later developed products such as Google Maps, the Pixel phone, and the Chromebook.

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Warren Buffett onstage during the Forbes Media Centennial Celebration at Pier 60 on September 19, 2017, in New York City.
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Daniel Zuchnik // Getty Images

#5. Warren Buffett

- Estimated net worth: $97 billion
- Age: 92
- State of residence: Nebraska
- Source of wealth: Berkshire Hathaway

Known in the investment world as the "Oracle of Omaha," Warren Buffett made a fortune investing in media, energy, and insurance through Berkshire Hathaway. The Nebraska native assumed control of the company in the 1960s. In 2006, Buffett announced he would be donating his fortune to charity.

Larry Ellison attending the Rebels With A Cause Gala 2019 at Lawrence J Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC on October 24, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.
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Phillip Faraone // Getty Images

#4. Larry Ellison

- Estimated net worth: $101 billion
- Age: 78
- State of residence: Hawaii
- Source of wealth: software

Larry Ellison founded the database management system Oracle in 1977. He remains a board member of the company, which has expanded into cloud technology and is the second-largest software development firm behind Microsoft. Ellison is also a prominent philanthropist in cancer research.

Bill Gates attending the 2022 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at the Lincoln Center on June 08, 2022, in New York City.
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Taylor Hill // Getty Images

#3. Bill Gates

- Estimated net worth: $106 billion
- Age: 67
- State of residence: Washington
- Source of wealth: Microsoft

Along with Paul Allen, Bill Gates founded the technology company Microsoft in 1975. Years later, he stepped away from the company to pursue philanthropy with his wife. They later divorced, but the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation remains focused on improving global health care and eradicating poverty. The foundation has a trust of more than $50 billion.

Jeff Bezos attending the Baby2Baby 10-Year Gala presented by Paul Mitchell at Pacific Design Center on November 13, 2021, in West Hollywood, California.
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Emma McIntyre // Getty Images

#2. Jeff Bezos

- Estimated net worth: $151 billion
- Age: 58
- State of residence: Washington
- Source of wealth: Amazon

The tech entrepreneur Jeff Bezos is the first man ever to be worth more than $100 billion. He created the e-commerce platform Amazon, which has an annual revenue of more than $177 billion. Bezos also owns the Washington Post and the aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin.

Elon Musk speaking at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand opening party in Austin, Texas, on April 7, 2022.
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SUZANNE CORDEIRO // Getty Images

#1. Elon Musk

- Estimated net worth: $251 billion
- Age: 51
- State of residence: Texas
- Source of wealth: PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX

Elon Musk was born in South Africa and moved to California to pursue a Ph.D. in the mid-1990s. His first financial successes include the development of Zip2, an online city guide, and PayPal. In the early 2000s, he began developing electric cars with his company Tesla Motors. The Tesla Roadster starts at $200,000 and is the same car Musk sent to space with his SpaceX exploration program. In October 2022, he closed a controversial bid on the social media platform Twitter for a reported $44 billion and presently owns an estimated 82% of the company.

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