The Annual Forbes 400 List of Wealthiest Americans Contains a Few Surprises

Along with a wealth of information about the fortunes of Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Donald Trump

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez at the Taj Mahal in January 2020
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez at the Taj Mahal in January.
PAWAN SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images

The rich get richer, even in troubling times. That’s the big takeaway from the Forbes 400, an annual survey that ranks the wealthiest Americans.

“Pandemic be damned: America’s 400 richest are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago,” the Forbes editors note.

The methodology behind the list is fairly rigorous: It includes interviews with the potential list members and their employees, plus close inspection of SEC documents, court records, probate records and news articles. Those included were also given philanthropy and “self-made” scores, which makes the whole endeavor more judgmental (but also more fun for the reader).

Some mild consolations: “The list is overwhelmingly self-made—and it appears to be getting more so over time,” the Forbes team notes. As well, Oprah Winfrey scored highest on the “self-made” section, to no one’s surprise, tied with George Soros, a fact that will drive some of you insane.

A few takeaways:

  • Jeff Bezos of Amazon is worth $179 billion and tops the list for the third year in a row.
  • It takes $2.1 billion in wealth to even make the list.
  • There are 18 new members to the list this year, including top newcomer Eric Yuan of Zoom at #43.
  • Warren Buffett is at #4 but saw a modest decrease in overall wealth. He did, however, tie with several people for the title of most philanthropic billionaire.
  • Snap’s Evan Spiegel is the youngest billionaire on the list at the age of 30.
  • Laurene Powell Jobs was the highest-ranked woman on the list, coming in at #30.

And yes, Donald Trump is on the list at #339, though he is one of the minority here who saw a decrease in overall wealth over the last year.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.