- The US may not have any rich royals, but it does have rich families with net worths in the billions.
- These billionaire clans have accumulated their fortunes in vastly different ways, from publishing and cosmetics to retail and hotels.
- Keep reading to see the top 28 richest families in the US, ranked by net worth, starting at $US10 billion.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
America may not be home to any rich royal families, but that doesn’t mean some families haven’t created their own sort of empire.
In fact, the United States has quite a few billionaire clans who accumulated their fortunes in vastly different ways. There are the publishing powerhouses that built the Hearst and Newhouse family fortunes; a cosmetics giant, which laid the foundation for the Lauder family fortune; and the families that created their wealth out of household names, like Walmart for the Waltons and Hyatt Hotels for the Pritzkers.
But not all of America’s richest families began as entrepreneurs – some were also savvy investors.
Below, meet the richest families in the US, ranked from lowest net worth to highest net worth, starting at $US10 billion. Rankings were determined by the most up-to-date estimated net worths available from Forbes and Bloomberg as well as the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies’ “Billionaire Bonanza” report, which looked at 15 dynastically wealthy families from the Forbes 400 list.
28. The Gallo family
Source of wealth: E & J Gallo Winery
The Gallo family fortune is derived from a few avenues. Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo founded the world’s largest winemaker in Modesto, California. Their other brother, Joseph, assisted with the family business until he opened his first dairy and sold cheese as “Joseph Gallow Cheese.” His children currently run Joseph Farms, while the descendants of Ernest and Julio run E & J Gallo Winery, which generates estimated annual revenues of $US3.8 billion. The company sells more than wine these days, having added liquor to the list.
T27. The Rockefeller family
Source of wealth: Standard Oil
John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire after founding Standard Oil in 1870, which eventually controlled a majority of the country’s oil refining. He and his son, John Jr., donated more than $US1 billion in philanthropic efforts. The family’s fortune is split among 174 members.
T27. The Cathy family
Source of wealth: Chick-fil-A
Samuel Truett Cathy founded fast-food chain Chick-fil-A in 1967. Since then, the family-owned business has remained in the hands of second- and third-generation family members. Truett’s sons, Dan Cathy and Don “Bubba” Cathy, run the company as CEO and executive vice president, respectively – they each have a reported net worth of $US5.5 billion, according to the Forbes 400.
T27. The Butt family
Source of wealth: H.E. Butt
Florence Butt founded H-E-B grocery store in Texas in 1905, which her son Howard expanded throughout the state when he took over the company in the 1920s. His son, Charles, is the majority shareholder and currently runs the company, which has 400 stores in Texas and Mexico and generates $US25 billion in annual sales. Charles’ siblings and two nephews also have stakes in the business.
24. The Stryker family
Source of wealth: Stryker Corp.
Homer Stryker founded medical-equipment company Stryker Corp. His grandchildren – siblings Pat, Jon, and Ronda – each inherited a stake in the company, which generated $US12 billion in sales in 2017. Ronda is the only sibling to serve on the board. All three are philanthropists and have donated at least $US855 million collectively to various causes and foundations.
23. The Mellon family
Source of wealth: Mellon Bank
The Mellon family fortune originated when Thomas Mellon invested in coal and real estate in the 1860s – he was so successful he used the investment money to found Mellon Bank. He left his fortune to his children to grow. Between his direct descendants and future generations, they did just that, investing in companies that later became ALOCOA and Gulf Oil (now Chevron) and owning companies in media and the railroad industry.
Matthew Mellon was the face of the family until his untimely death in April 2018.
22. The Marshall family
Source of wealth: Investments
The Marshall family’s wealth is diversified. J. Howard Marshall II traded his Great Northern Oil Company shares for an estimated 15% stake in the Koch Industries. He passed on the stock to his son, E. Pierce Marshall, which then went to his wife and children when he died. The family has spent millions of their fortune on lawyers for J. Howard II, who had a short-term marriage to Anna Nicole Smith.
21. The Brown family
Source of wealth: Brown-Forman Corp.
The Brown family is behind Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester, among other alcohol brands. An estimated 25 family members own more than half of Brown-Forman Corp., which began with pharmaceuticals salesman George Garvin Brown in 1870.
20. The Sackler family
Source of wealth: Purdue Pharma
The Sackler brothers – Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond – founded Purdue Pharma in the 1950s. The business skyrocketed when it began selling OxyContin in 1995. By 2002, Purdue was generating $US1.6 billion worth of the painkiller.
The company has spent hundreds of millions settling various lawsuits over mis-branding OxyContin and generates $US3 billion in annual sales today. The Sackler family still completely owns the company and the fortune is shared among some 20 family members.
19. The Goldman family
Source of wealth: Solil Management
The Goldman family’s wealth comes from real estate – they own 400-plus properties in New York City, including a 17% stake in the World Trade Center developments. Sol Goldman began Solil Management when he began buying foreclosed properties at bargain prices in the 1950s.
Today, his daughter Jane Goldman, runs the company. She and her siblings own 25% of the company, with assets worth an estimated $US12 billion. Sol’s nephew Lloyd Goldman runs the family’s real estate firm, BLDG Management, which has another 17% stake in the World Trade Center.
18. The Bass family
Source of wealth: Oil
In 1959, the oil tycoon Sid Richardson left his nephews Robert, Sid, Lee, and Edward $US2.8 million each. They then diversified the money. The four brothers received $US5.6 billion in stock after selling their oil company to ExxonMobil in 2017. They could reap payouts worth up to $US1 billion.
17. The Busch family
Source of wealth: Anheuser-Busch
The Busch family fortune’s roots in beer date back to 1876 when Adolphus Busch created what is now known today as Budweiser. While the company passed through each family generation, an estimated 25% of the business was sold between 1989 and 2008, and it was fully bought out for $US52 billion in 2008.
Part of the family launched back into the business with William K Busch Brewing. Roughly 30 members of the family split the fortune.
16. The Hunt family
Source of wealth: Hunt Oil Company
H.L. Hunt laid the foundation for his family’s fortune with Hunt Oil Company. His many heirs (he had 14 children) command several fortunes, from Hunt Oil and Petro-Hunt to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. His children spend their billions on real estate, like the 6-million-square-foot underground business park SubTropolis, and sports teams – they own the Kansas City Chiefs and have a minority stake in the Chicago Bulls.
15. The du Pont family
Source of wealth: DuPont
The du Pont fortune is one of the oldest and most widely shared fortunes on this list. Chemicals giant DuPont was founded in 1802 as a gunpowder manufacturer. Over time, it evolved into producing everything from dynamite to plastics and invented nylon and Teflon. About 3,500 family members share the chunk of substantial shares in the company, although none actually run the company.
14. The Ziff family
Source of wealth: Ziff Davis Inc.
William Ziff Jr. sold the magazine publisher his father created,Ziff Davis Inc., which published PC Magazine, for $US1.4 billion in 1994. His sons, Daniel, Robert, and Dirk, grow their inheritance through Ziff Brothers Investments and reportedly invest some of their billions with managers who use to work at their hedge funds.
The brothers also own several homes in Aspen and have put their money toward philanthropic efforts.
13. The Dorrance family
Source of wealth: Campbell’s Soup
An estimated 11 members of the Dorrance family own more than 50% of Campbell’s Soup, which John T. Dorrance invented the formula for in the late 1800s. Today, the company owns more than soup, including brands V8 and Pepperidge Farm, generating more than $US8 billion in annual revenue. Two of Dorrance’s billionaire grandchildren and one great grandchild are board members.
12. The SC Johnson family
Source of wealth: SC Johnson
The Johnson family is behind SC Johnson, which produces cleaning products such as Pledge, Glade, and Windex. The company was founded by its namesake in 1882 and was eventually taken over by son Herbert Fisk Johnson. Herbert died in 1928 without a will, and the family reportedly feuded over the inheritance until it was eventually divided between his two children, Herbert Fisk Jr. and Henrietta Johnson Louis. Fifth-generation Herbert Fisk Johnson III acts as the current CEO and chairman of the company.
11. The Newhouse family
Source of wealth: Advance Publications
The Newhouse family’s wealth derives from the publishing giant Sam Newhouse created. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast Publications and more than 25 newspapers in America, as well as Reddit and a stake in Discovery Communications. In April 2016, Sam’s sons sold cable TV company Bright House Networks for $US11.4 billion in cash and stock.
10. The Lauder family
Source of wealth: Estée Lauder
In 1947, Estée Lauder received her first major order for $US800 of skincare products from Saks Fifth Avenue. Today, the company, which includes 30 brands of makeup including MAC and Clinique, generates $US12 billion in revenue from the sale of cosmetics and fragrances.
The Lauders are active philanthropists, and sons Leonard and Ronald are major art collectors. Leonard donated $US1 billion worth of paintings and sculptures to the Met. The family also owns a lot of real estate.
9. The Hearst family
Source of wealth: Hearst Corporation
About 67 family members share the fortune that William Randolph Hearst created when he took over the San Francisco Examiner in the late 1800s. Soon after, Hearst acquired other newspapers and forayed into radio and TV, creating the foundation for today’s media giant, Hearst Corporation, which owns several newspapers, nearly 300 magazines, TV and radio stations, and stakes in cable TV channels.
Hearst used to own what is now one of the most expensive homes in America.
8. The Duncan family
Source of wealth: Enterprise Products Partners
Dan L. Duncan founded gas and oil company Enterprise Products Partners in 1968 with just $US10,000. After he died in 2010, the company remained under family control and his four children inherited a $US10 billion estate. The family fortune has since more than doubled.
7. The Pritzker family
Source of wealth: Hyatt Hotels
A.N. Pritzker and sons Jay, Donald, and Robert created the family’s wealth by founding the Hyatt Hotel chain and investing in holdings, such as Marmon Group. Today, the fortune is split among 13 family members, 11 of whom are billionaires. They reportedly spent much of the 2000’s arguing over trusts, ultimately dividing up the fortune at the end.
Members of the Pritzker family have also been involved in politics. Penny Pritzker, Donald’s daughter, is the former US Secretary of Commerce. Her brother, J.B. Pritzker was the national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and the Democratic candidate in the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial election.
6. The Cox family
Source of wealth: Cox Enterprises
Cox Enterprises has touched a number of industries – cable and broadband (Cox Communications), newspapers and radio stations (Cox Media Group), and automotive. It generates about $US20 billion in revenue.
Founder James Cox‘s five grandchildren share the family fortune.
5. The (Edward) Johnson family
Source of wealth: Fidelity
Edward C. Johnson founded the world’s second-largest mutual fund company, Fidelity, in 1946, which has been run at the hands of three Johnson generations since. It’s currently helmed by his granddaughter, Abigail Johnson. The family owns 49% of the company, which is shared among four members.
4. The Cargill-MacMillan family
Source of wealth: Cargill Inc.
William W. Cargill founded agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. in 1865. Today, 23 members of the Cargill-MacMillan family own 88% of the company, which generates $US108 billion in annual revenues. Of this clan, 14 are billionaires. The family reportedly keeps 80% of Cargill Inc.’s net income inside the company for reinvestment annually.
3. The Mars family
Source of wealth: Mars Inc.
Jacqueline and John Mars inherited a stake in the candy empire Mars Inc., which invented M&Ms, Milky Way, and Mars Bars, when their father passed away in 1999. Jacquelyn’s son, Stephen Badger, is the current chairman of Mars Inc., which brings in more than $US35 billion in annual revenue.
The siblings run the Mars Foundation, which donates to educational, environmental, cultural, and health-related causes.
2. The Koch family
Source of wealth: Koch Industries
Brothers Charles and David Koch expanded their father’s oil refinery firm into conglomerate Koch Industries after their other brothers, Frederick and William, left the business following a failed takeover. Today, Koch Industries generates roughly $US100 billion in revenue annually.
David Koch, who stepped down from a leadership position in the company in 2018, has pledged to contribute more than $US1.2 billion to cancer research, hospitals, education, and cultural institutions through the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation. Both brothers reportedly secretly funded some of the biggest summer movies of 2017, including “Wonder Woman.”
1. The Walton family
Source of wealth: Walmart
Sam and Bud Walton founded Walmart in 1962. Following its success, they founded Sam’s Club in 1983. Today, Walmart reports sales of $US500 billion, making it the largest retailer by revenue in the world.
The Walton family fortune is dispersed among seven family members, including co-founder Sam Walton’s three children, Rob, Jim, and Alice, who is the richest woman in the world with a $US43.7 billion fortune.
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