Pierre Omidyar, Chairman and Founder of eBay, looks on during the final session of the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, in September 2010.

How the richest person in each state made a fortune

Written by:
March 11, 2021
Ramin Talaie // Corbis via Getty Images

How the richest person in every state made a fortune

Whether it's a hedge-fund billionaire, tech giant, industrial titan, or someone simply born into the right family, the wealthiest people in every state each have their own stories. In today's political climate, the super-rich have plenty of influence over our political process, from lobbying members of the government and contributing to presidential bids to running ad campaigns in favor of specific causes.

To figure out who's on top of each state's rich list, Forbes tracks groups of billionaires (or centimillionaires in states with no billionaires) and updates their findings annually. Stacker analyzed this data to compile a list of the uber-wealthy and then broke down how each person earned their fortune. This list accounts for individuals' wealth as of June 26, 2019, but keep in mind the tides of fortune are always shifting. Many of the figures can change based on a dip in the stock market alone.

Sometimes billionaires are made overnight, others over the course of generations. The distribution of billionaires and other super-rich individuals isn't evenly distributed; plenty more live on the coast than the Midwest, with a few key exceptions. Curious who the richest person is in your home state? Keep reading to find out.

You may also like: Wealthiest counties in the U.S.

Alabama: Jimmy Rane

- Net worth: $900 million (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 72
- Source of wealth: lumber
- Residence: Abbeville, AL

Known colloquially as the Yella Fella, Jimmy Rane is a lumber magnate who built his fortune from his family's small plant into billion-dollar behemoth Great Southern Wood Preserving. As the wealthiest person in Alabama, Rane keeps his money close to home. He's revitalized his hometown and supports several universities by offering scholarships (more than 400 to date) through The Jimmy Rane Foundation. The Auburn University alum still sits on the board of his alma mater as chair of the board's governmental affairs.

Alaska: Leonard Hyde, Jonathan Rubini and families

- Net worth: $300 million each (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 62, 64
- Source of wealth: real estate
- Residence: Anchorage, AK

Real estate tycoons Leonard Hyde and Jonathan Rubini began amassing their fortunes by buying up Alaskan properties during economic downturns. Today, the partners head JL Properties, which owns the tallest building in Anchorage, massive residential units, and much more.

Arizona: Ernest Garcia II

- Net worth: $5.7 billion
- Age: 62
- Source of wealth: used cars, self-made
- Residence: Tempe, AZ

The stereotype of the used car salesman—ill-fitting shirt, sweaty skin, dusty parking lot—has never looked so good. Ernest Garcia II, an ex-con, made his fortune through operating the fourth-largest used car retailer in the country, DriveTime Automotive, along with owning plenty of stock of Carvana, a used car e-commerce platform.

Arkansas: Jim Walton

- Net worth: $52.1 billion
- Age: 71
- Source of wealth: Walmart
- Residence: Bentonville, AR

According to Forbes, Jim Walton is the 11th wealthiest person in America, and is one of many heirs to the Walmart fortune that was amassed by his father, Sam Walton. Jim Walton lives in Bentonville—home to the Walmart world headquarters—and runs the family's Arvest Bank, which has assets listed at $16 billion.

California: Mark Zuckerberg

- Net worth: $79.5 billion
- Age: 35
- Source of wealth: Facebook, self-made
- Residence: Palo Alto, CA

As the creator of Facebook, the world's largest social network, Mark Zuckerberg isn't just the wealthiest Californian, but one of the five wealthiest Americans (stock price dependent). Zuckerberg hasn't been shy about giving his money away: He's one of the many ultra-rich to promise to donate half his wealth to The Giving Pledge.

Colorado: Philip Anschutz

- Net worth: $11.5 billion
- Age: 80
- Source of wealth: investments
- Residence: Denver, CO

Philip Anschutz is one of the most diversified billionaires on this list, with businesses ranging from sports and movies to oil and real estate. Anschutz's father was an oil tycoon, giving him a leg-up, but Phillip has far surpassed anything his family ever accomplished. Today, Anschutz owns sports teams, an entertainment conglomerate (including Coachella), and is one of the biggest individual landowners in the United States. Anschutz has also given away more than $2 billion to charity.

Connecticut: Ray Dalio

- Net worth: $18.7 billion
- Age: 70
- Source of wealth: hedge funds, self-made
- Residence: Greenwich, CT

After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1975, Ray Dalio started Bridgewater Associates, which has since become the largest hedge fund in the world with an estimated $160 billion under management. Dalio is also actively philanthropic—his family has given more than $1.3 billion via the Dalio Foundation, and he's promised to give away half his wealth through The Giving Pledge.

Delaware: Robert Gore and Elizabeth Snyder

- Net worth: $885 million each (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 82, 72
- Source of wealth: Gore-Tex
- Residence: Newark and Wilmington, DE

Together, the heirs to Gore-Tex would be worth over a billion dollars; but since Elizabeth Snyder has five siblings, Delaware has zero billionaires. Gore-Tex is a lightweight, waterproof fabric and is commonly used in high-end raincoats to keep the cold and wet out.

Florida: Thomas Peterffy

- Net worth: $16.9 billion
- Age: 75
- Source of wealth: discount brokerage, self-made
- Residence: Palm Beach, FL

A self-made billionaire, Thomas Peterffy is a Hungarian immigrant who came to America at 21 with no money. He earned his fortune by creating Discount Brokerage, a digital trading platform used by brokers and investors around the world. One of Peterffy's biggest causes is railing against socialism—he's spent millions in political ads.

Georgia: Jim Kennedy

- Net worth: $10 billion
- Age: 72
- Source of wealth: media, automotive
- Residence: Atlanta, GA

Jim Kennedy inherited his 25% stake in Cox Enterprises—owners of TV and radio stations, newspapers, and digital services—from his mother, Barbara Cox Anthony. Kennedy had already served as CEO of the mega-media company from 1988 to 2008, raising its revenues from $1.8 billion to $15.4 billion. Kennedy is involved in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, including education, health care, and sustainability causes.

Hawaii: Pierre Omidyar

- Net worth: $13.2 billion
- Age: 52
- Source of wealth: eBay, PayPal, self-made
- Residence: Honolulu, HI

Since founding eBay, Pierre Omidyar has pulled back from the company (though he still sits on its board). He has launched other ventures including First Look Media and the Press Freedom Defense Fund, which supports journalists in legal battles.

Idaho: Frank VanderSloot

- Net worth: $3.8 billion
- Age: 71
- Source of wealth: nutrition, wellness products, self-made
- Residence: Idaho Falls, ID

Frank VanderSloot isn't just rich; he's experienced in the political sector, too. The founder of Melaleuca, which calls itself the “largest online shopping club,” VanderSloot was a national finance co-chair for both of Republican Mitt Romney's presidential bids.

Illinois: Kenneth Griffin

- Net worth: $13.1 billion
- Age: 51
- Source of wealth: hedge funds, self-made
- Residence: Chicago, IL

Ken Griffin runs Citadel, which manages more than $30 billion. Griffin got his start making trades from his Harvard dormitory, where he even reportedly put a satellite dish on the roof to get real-time quotes. Today, Griffin is considered an active philanthropist and gives to a range of causes in his native Illinois.

Indiana: Carl Cook

- Net worth: $10.6 billion
- Age: 57
- Source of wealth: medical devices
- Residence: Bloomington, IN

Carl Cook is CEO of Cook Group, a medical device manufacturer started by Cook's parents in 1963. Cook inherited the bulk of the family fortune in stock transfers over a 15-year period, avoiding estate taxes. Cook is famously private, owing in part to his mother's 1989 two-day kidnapping.

Iowa: Harry Stine

- Net worth: $5.5 billion
- Age: 78
- Source of wealth: agriculture, self-made
- Residence: Adel, IA

Agriculture billionaire Harry Stine was born and raised on a farm, so it's little surprise that he made his fortune selling seeds. Stine Seed is one of the largest independent producers of genetically modified seeds, sold to multinational corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta. Stine is also active in philanthropy and has promised to give away at least half of his money through The Giving Pledge.

Kansas: Charles Koch

- Net worth: $42.2 billion
- Age: 84
- Source of wealth: Koch Industries
- Residence: Wichita, KS

Charles Koch has served as chairman and CEO of Koch Industries since 1967. The company was started by Koch's father, and deals heavily in oil, gas, ranching, and finance, among other industries. Koch is also involved in politics and has funded a number of think tanks, including The Heritage Foundation and The Cato Institute.

Kentucky: Tamara Gustavson

- Net worth: $5.1 billion
- Age: 58
- Source of wealth: self storage
- Residence: Lexington, KY

Have you ever needed a place to put your junk? Gustavson's probably profited from you. The owner of 11% of Public Storage, a company her father cofounded, Gustavson is a generous donor to causes such as the HollyRod Foundation, which researches Alzheimer's and autism.

Louisiana: Gayle Benson

- Net worth: $3.1 billion
- Age: 73
- Source of wealth: pro sports teams
- Residence: New Orleans, LA

Gayle Benson is the wife of the late Tom Benson, who made his money in car dealerships and banking. Gayle Benson inherited the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans when her husband died in 2018. The Bensons are known for their extraordinary charity work, giving to Catholic causes as well as establishing the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center in Jefferson, Louisiana.

Maine: Susan Alfond

- Net worth: $1.8 billion
- Age: 74
- Source of wealth: shoes
- Residence: Scarborough, ME

Shoe heiress Susan Alfond inherited her money from father Harold Alfond, who started the Dexter Shoe Company in 1958. When Alfond sold the company to Warren Buffett in exchange for Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1993, the family fortunes increased exponentially.

Maryland: Ted Lerner and family

- Net worth: $5.6 billion
- Age: 94
- Source of wealth: real estate, self-made
- Residence: Chevy Chase, MD

Ted Lerner owns more than 20 million square feet comprising hotels, commercial and retail space, and apartments. The Lerner family also owns the Washington Nationals, and shares of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals. Additionally, they're owners of Maryland's White Flint Mall. The family gives to a variety of causes including education, health and human services, arts and culture, and Jewish organizations.

Massachusetts: Abigail Johnson

- Net worth: $16.5 billion
- Age: 58
- Source of wealth: money management
- Residence: Milton, MA

Even though Abigail Johnson is the granddaughter of Fidelity founder Edward C. Johnson II, no one can say she didn't pay her dues. Johnson earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and started working at the family company in 1988. As CEO, she manages assets valued in the trillions. Johnson is also a trustee of the Fidelity Foundation, which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofits around the country.

Michigan: Daniel Gilbert

- Net worth: $6.8 billion (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 57
- Source of wealth: Quicken Loans
- Residence: Franklin, MI

Ohioans might be surprised to see Daniel Gilbert representing Michigan, considering that he owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilbert made his money from Quicken Loans, now America's largest mortgage lender, with headquarters in Detroit. Gilbert is also known for helping revitalize downtown Detroit by investing billions of dollars.

Minnesota: Glen Taylor

- Net worth: $2.8 billion
- Age: 78
- Source of wealth: printing, self-made
- Residence: Mankato, MN

Glen Taylor is a self-made billionaire who turned a small wedding business into a printing empire with billions of dollars in sales. Born and raised in Minnesota, Taylor is also the owner of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and The Minneapolis Star Tribune, the state's largest newspaper. Taylor is also active in charity and has donated generously to Minnesota State University.

Mississippi: James and Thomas Duff

- Net worth: $1.4 billion
- Age: 58
- Source of wealth: tires, diversified
- Residence: Hattiesburg, MS

Some people get rich from inventing groundbreaking technology. Some people, like the Duff brothers, just figured out how to sell tires better. Though they live private lives, the richest two men in Mississippi made it happen through good business practices and solid service.

Missouri: Pauline Macmillan Keinath

- Net worth: $7 billion
- Age: 86
- Source of wealth: Cargill
- Residence: St. Louis, MO

Cargill is the largest private company in the United States, and Pauline MacMillan Keinath is its largest shareholder. The company was started by her great-grandfather in 1865, and is now a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate focused on food, agriculture, nutrition, and risk management.

Montana: Dennis Washington

- Net worth: $6.6 billion
- Age: 85
- Source of wealth: construction, mining, self-made
- Residence: Missoula, MT

The wealthiest man in Montana is also the state's most charitable. Dennis Washington is the head of Washington Companies, which owns mines, railroads, and shipping containers. The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has given away hundreds of millions of dollars, including hundreds of scholarships to students in Montana.

Nebraska: Warren Buffett

- Net worth: $87.6 billion
- Age: 89
- Source of wealth: Berkshire Hathaway, self-made
- Residence: Omaha, NE

Warren Buffett is affectionately known as the Oracle of Omaha, and for good reason. He's one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Buffet is head of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company he founded, which owns dozens of other companies. Buffet, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, started The Giving Pledge, which challenges billionaires to give away half their assets to improve the world. Buffet, however, has vowed to give away 99% of his fortune.

Nevada: Sheldon Adelson

- Net worth: $37.6 billion
- Age: 86
- Source of wealth: casinos, self-made
- Residence: Las Vegas, NV

Though Sheldon Adelson is known as a casino magnate, he didn't actually break into that business until later in life. Adelson is a serial entrepreneur who made his first mega-fortune with COMDEX, the computer trade show, selling it for hundreds of millions of dollars. Adelson's casino empire is worth billions, and he's used much of his wealth to support Jewish cultural endeavors and conservative political causes.

New Hampshire: Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli

- Net worth: $720 million (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 62
- Source of wealth: consumer goods
- Residence: Hanover, NH

Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli inherited her money from Luxembourg-based company JAB. Though she sold her stake in 2003, it's easy to understand why JAB is such a juggernaut. The company currently owns everything from Peet's Coffee and Tea and Krispy Kreme to Panera Bread and Dr. Pepper. Reimann-Ciardelli directs much of her money through the Emily Landecker Foundation she helped establish, which donates to a variety of scientific institutions.

New Jersey: John Overdeck

- Net worth: $6.1 billion
- Age: 50
- Source of wealth: hedge funds, self-made
- Residence: Millburn, NJ

Making the bulk of his money in the hedge-fund space, John Overdeck is a technical wizard who combined his math skills with machine learning to help predict market forces. It obviously worked (to the tune of $5.5 billion), but Overdeck and wife Laura spend much of their money and time on charitable causes. Through the Overdeck Family Foundation, the couple has donated more than $145 million to children's educational causes.

New Mexico: Mack C. Chase

- Net worth: $700 million (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 88
- Source of wealth: oil
- Residence: Artesia, NM

Mack C. Chase is a self-made oil tycoon who got his start tapping wells in Texas and New Mexico. Chase is now the head of Mack Energy Corp., which drills for and produces oil and gas. Chase also started the Chase Foundation, a nonprofit that helps communities in New Mexico by providing grants to charitable organizations.

New York: Michael Bloomberg

- Net worth: $59.9 billion
- Age: 77
- Source of wealth: Bloomberg LP, self-made
- Residence: New York, NY

Best known as New York's Republican-turned-Independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg owns 88% of the company which bears his name and brings news to millions of consumers worldwide. He made an unsuccessful bid in 2020 for the Democratic nomination for president.

North Carolina: James Goodnight

- Net worth: $8.2 billion
- Age: 77
- Source of wealth: software, self-made
- Residence: Cary, NC

James Goodnight became the wealthiest man in North Carolina by co-founding software company SAS in 1976. Today, the company has more than 14,000 employees, and its software is used in 145 countries and 83,0000 businesses, generating more than $3 billion a year in revenue. Goodnight and SAS co-founder John Sall also started Cary Academy, a college preparatory school in North Carolina.

North Dakota: Gary Tharaldson

- Net worth: $1 billion
- Age: 74
- Source of wealth: hotels, self-made
- Residence: Fargo, ND

Gary Tharaldson is as self-made as they come. Growing up on a farm in rural North Dakota, Tharaldson made his money by buying and operating hundreds of motels and hotels. The wealth part came from selling a huge chunk of his portfolio to Goldman Sachs for more than a billion dollars.

Ohio: Les Wexner and family

- Net worth: $4.5 billion
- Age: 82
- Source of wealth: retail, self-made
- Residence: New Albany, OH

Until his connection to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein came to light, Les Wexner wasn't a household name outside of Ohio, but every facet of his empire is. Wexner founded L Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. Wexner got his start in retail in 1963, when he opened The Limited. He bought Victoria's Secret in 1982 for a million dollars. Notoriously charitable, Wexner and wife Abigail started The Wexner Foundation, which has given away hundreds of millions of dollars to a variety of Jewish organizations, as well as state institutions like Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center and Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center.

Oklahoma: Harold Hamm and family

- Net worth: $8.3 billion
- Age: 74
- Source of wealth: oil & gas, self-made
- Residence: Oklahoma City, OK

Harold Hamm had been in the oil business for years when he struck black gold by transforming the industry with the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in North Dakota's Bakken formation. Hamm and his family have donated millions of dollars to the University of Oklahoma, which built the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.


Oregon: Phil Knight and family

- Net worth: $39.6 billion
- Age: 81
- Source of wealth: Nike, self-made
- Residence: Hillsboro, OR

Phil Knight created Nike with his college track coach and started selling shoes out of the trunk of his car at track meets. Today, Nike has revenues of $34 billion, easily making Knight the wealthiest man in Oregon. Beyond shoes, Knight and wife Penny are known for their charity work and have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Oregon and Stanford.

Pennsylvania: Victoria Mars

- Net worth: $7.7 billion
- Age: 63
- Source of wealth: candy, pet food
- Residence: Philadelphia, PA

An heiress to the Mars Inc. fortune (Pedigree, Whiskas, M&M's, Twix, Skittles, Orbit gum, Uncle Ben's, Bounty, Snickers, and others), Victoria Mars became a multibillionaire when her father Forrest Mars Jr. left her 8% of the sixth-largest private company in America. As chairman of the board of directors at Salzburg Global Seminar, Mars runs an organization that helps with sustainable global development.

Rhode Island: Jonathan Nelson

- Net worth: $1.8 billion
- Age: 63
- Source of wealth: private equity, self-made
- Residence: Providence, RI

A Harvard Business School graduate, Jonathan Nelson is the CEO of Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm with $42 billion under management. Nelson started the firm in 1989 and has invested in hundreds of companies around the world. Part of The Giving Pledge, Nelson has promised to give away at least half of his money to charity and has already donated millions of dollars to a variety of causes and institutions.

South Carolina: Anita Zucker

- Net worth: $1.9 billion
- Age: 68
- Source of wealth: chemicals
- Residence: Charleston, SC

Anita Zucker is CEO of InterTech Group, a private chemicals manufacturer that was started by her late husband Jerry Zucker in 1982. Zucker's company also deals in aerospace, real estate, financial services, and other industries. Through the Jerry and Anita Zucker Family Foundation, the Zuckers have given away millions to organizations in South Carolina.

South Dakota: T. Denny Sanford

- Net worth: $2.4 billion
- Age: 84
- Source of wealth: banking, credit cards, self-made
- Residence: Sioux Falls, SD

This banking billionaire has vowed to die broke by giving away all his money to charitable causes. T. Denny Sanford made his fortune from First Premier Bank, notorious for offering credit cards to high-risk borrowers. Sanford is also a member of The Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of his money, of which he's already donated more than $1 billion.

Tennessee: Thomas Frist Jr. and family

- Net worth: $12.6 billion
- Age: 81
- Source of wealth: hospitals, self-made
- Residence: Nashville, TN

A former Air Force surgeon, Thomas Frist founded Hospital Corp. of America in 1968, took it public three times, and amassed an enormous amount of personal wealth. Now, Hospital Corp. operates 179 hospitals in the U.S. and London.

Texas: Alice Walton

- Net worth: $51.8 billion
- Age: 70
- Source of wealth: Walmart
- Residence: Fort Worth, TX

The second Walton on the list, Alice Walton, like her brother Jim, is an heir to the vast Walmart fortune created by their father. As the only daughter of Sam Walton, Alice has focused her wealth on the arts, with a personal collection valued in the hundreds of millions. She opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Utah: Gail Miller

- Net worth: $1.6 billion
- Age: 76
- Source of wealth: car dealerships, self-made
- Residence: Salt Lake City, UT

Gail Miller and late husband Larry are Utah staples who amassed their wealth by turning a single car dealership into an empire. Miller is also the owner of the Utah Jazz, purchased in 1986. The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation was established in 2007 and gives to nonprofit organizations like the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the American Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society.

Vermont: John Abele

- Net worth: $640 million (as of June 18, 2019)
- Age: 82
- Source of wealth: Health care
- Residence: Shelburne, VT

After co-founding Boston Scientific in 1979, John Abele made his first billion when he took the company public in 1992. Since then, Abele has dedicated his life to giving his fortune away, largely through the Argosy Foundation, which donates to the arts, educational causes, environment sustainability, and more.

Virginia: Jacqueline Mars

- Net worth: $30.9 billion
- Age: 80
- Source of wealth: candy, pet food
- Residence: The Plains, VA

Jacqueline Mars's grandfather created Mars, Inc. in 1911. Mars owns a third of the privately held company and is well known for her charitable work. The Mars Foundation gives to environmental, animal rights, and other conservation groups, while Mars has personally donated millions to the arts and other causes.

Washington: Jeff Bezos

- Net worth: $113.5 billion
- Age: 56
- Source of wealth: Amazon, self-made
- Residence: Seattle, WA

If you don't know his name, perhaps you'll know his company: Amazon. Amazon dominates internet sales, but wants to be known as more than a retail marketplace; from its purchase of Whole Foods to its numerous award-winning Amazon Prime Original TV shows and movies, Bezos is amassing both a cultural and physical empire, making him the richest man in the world by far.

West Virginia: Jim Justice II

- Net worth: $1.5 billion
- Age: 68
- Source of wealth: coal
- Residence: Lewisburg, WV

Jim Justice II is governor of West Virginia, but he didn't make his fortune in politics. Justice inherited a coal business from his father and is a major owner of coal mines across the country. Justice is also a charitable man and has given millions to the Boy Scouts of America, the Cleveland Clinic, and Marshall University.

Wisconsin: John Menard Jr.

- Net worth: $12 billion
- Age: 80
- Source of wealth: home improvement stores, self-made
- Residence: Eau Claire, WI

Menard's, a competitor of Home Depot and Lowe's, is a successful home-improvement chain with over 300 stores. This past May, he received an honorary doctorate for lifetime achievement from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Wyoming: John Mars

- Net worth: $30.9 billion
- Age: 84
- Source of wealth: candy, pet food
- Residence: Jackson, WY

Owner of one-third of the Mars candy and pet food empire, John Mars (like his siblings) inherited his fortune from his father when he died in 1999. As part of The Mars Foundation, John Mars helps direct money to animal welfare and environmental groups. He and his wife are also big supporters of the Smithsonian.

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