America’s Richest Families Ranked By WealthBy John P.
The United States of America doesn’t have royal glamor, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own empire and power. Every year, Forbes magazine ranks the wealthiest families in America based on their revenues, stocks, and business profits. The list also reveals how wealthy people get so rich, whether it be through entrepreneurship, savvy investing, or other means.
The different backgrounds of each family are proof that if you put your heart into something you want to do, you can be successful. Of course, having a massive inheritance and a well-connected family helps too! The list below will introduce you to America’s richest families and give you a little window into how they made it to the top.
The Gallo FamilyNet worth: $10.7 billionSource of wealth: E & J Gallo Winery
The Gallo family is often referred to as the American wine family due to their uber-successful winery enterprise. It started when Giussepe “Joseph” Gallo, an immigrant from Fossano, Italy, decided to open up a business after working in other people’s vineyards. Years later, Ernest and Julio Gallo built the business up to be the largest winemaker in California.
Aside from the winery, Joseph Gallo opened a dairy and named it Joseph Gallow Cheese. The business was successful and generated an estimated annual revenue of $3.8 billion. We can’t help but wonder what it feels like to enjoy your own wine and cheese while relaxing in a hot tub at your mansion.
The Rockefeller FamilyNet worth: $11 billionSource of wealth: Standard Oil
The Rockefeller riches came from a long history. From the 19th to 20th century, their ancestors – John D. Rockefeller and William A. Rockefeller, Jr. – launched into the oil industry, and over the years, the family was able to build more businesses such as ExxonMobil and Chevron Corporation.
This family originated from Germany and eventually came to America in the 18th century. Since then, they have had a lot of associations in businesses, one of the most prominent being the Chase Manhattan Bank. Though there are many conspiracy theories about them online, they are known to be philanthropists. Currently, their riches are divided among 174 members of the family. We can only imagine the fortune they have!
The Cathy FamilyNet worth: $11 billionSource of wealth: Chick-fil-A
Who doesn’t love Chick-fil-A? Considering that it is one of the most successful fast-food chains in America, it’s no surprise to learn that the family behind it is mega-wealthy. This fast-food giant was first founded in 1967 by the patriarch of the family, Samuel Truett Cathy.
Thanks to their father’s hard work, it was then expanded and passed on to the next generation, namely Dan Cathy and Don “Bubba” Cathy. Currently, they are top executives at Chick-fil-A and achieved a net worth of $5.5 billion, according to Forbes. Could we be rich like this if we build a new fast-food chain? What do you think?
The Butt FamilyNet worth: $11 billionSource of wealth: H.E. Butt
The Butt family, despite their weird surname, are the owners of the famous H-E-B grocery store in Texas. It was founded by a mother named Florence Butt and eventually passed on to the next generations. Howard, the son of Florence, was the one who expanded his mother’s business throughout the state.
Currently, H-E-B grocery stores have 400 stores in Texas and Mexico and generate $25 billion in annual sales. Florence’s grandson, Charles, is the CEO and president of the famous grocery chain. The rise of her empire was an incredible experience for Florence as she had started out with little more than a small grocery store below her apartment. H-E-B is now one of the largest grocery chains in America.
The Stryker FamilyNet worth: $11.1 billionSource of wealth: Stryker Corp.
Stryker Corporation is a medical equipment company. Homer Stryker, the patriarch, was the one who started this family business. He was not new to the medical field as he was an orthopedic surgeon and inventor. Fast-forward to the present day, and a lot of people have benefited from his inventiveness, especially in the fields of orthopedic care, patient comfort, and medical staff convenience.
His grandchildren, Pat, John, and Ronda, each inherited a percentage of the company. As of writing, Ronda is the only active member of the board, while the rest of the siblings are philanthropists and have donated at least $800 million to various foundations and causes.
The Mellon FamilyNet worth: $11.5 billionSource of wealth: Mellon bank
This family started working their way to billionaire status when Thomas Mellon launched the Mellon bank. They later merged with the Bank of New York, becoming BNY Mellon. Aside from the banking industry, the family has also ventured into shipbuilding, the oil industry, the chemical industry, and more.
Thomas left his fortune to his children and trusted them to expand the family business. With the use of their family’s fortune, they invested well and now have a stake in ALCOA, Gulf Oil (now Chevron), and other companies in the media and railroad industries.
The Marshall FamilyNet worth: $12 billionSource of wealth: investments
The Marshall family, headed by James Howard Marshall, have a strange background and have faced a whole lot of controversy in their time. James traded his oil company shares for an estimated 15% stake in Koch Industries.
James Howard also famously married model Anna Nicole Smith during the last 14 months of his life. Because of the controversy over the legitimacy of their marriage, there was a legal battle over his estate. This became the subject of protracted litigation.
The Brown FamilyNet worth: $12.3 billionSource of wealth: Brown-Forman Corporation
The Brown family is based in Louisville, Kentucky, and they made their wealth in spirits and wine. They are the people behind one of the most famous alcoholic beverages – Jack Daniels. Moreover, they manufacture other brands like Old Forester, BenRiach, Finlandia, and a lot more.
It has been said that an estimated 25 family members own more than half of the Brown-Forman Corporation, which was started by founder George Garvin Brown. Is there free booze on tap every time they have a party? Or do they need to pay for it?
The Sackler FamilyNet worth: $13 billionSource of wealth: Purdue Pharma
The Sackler family founded the pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma and Mundipharma. The business escalated when the company began to sell OxyContin in 1995. The three brothers – Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond – seemed to find the peak of their success because of the painkiller.
By 2002, Purdue was moving $1.6 billion worth of OxyContin. However, the company spent a lot of money settling various lawsuits that were associated with misbranding of OxyContin and issues related to the opioid crisis. As of today, they are sitting at a net worth of $13 billion, with the company shared among 20 family members.
The Goldman FamilyNet worth: $13.2 billionSource of wealth: Solil Management
Their real-estate business started when Sol Goldman began buying foreclosed properties at bargain prices in the 1950s. Since then, the family real estate business has boomed, and nothing seems to be getting in the way of their success.
They currently own 400 plus properties in New York City, including a 17% stake in the World Trade Center development. Sol had four children – Allan, Diane, Amy, and Jane. The siblings each own 25% of the company, with assets totaling around $12 billion. Sol’s nephew, Lloyd Goldman, runs the family estate firm.
The Bass FamilyNet worth: $13.3 billionSource of wealth: Oil
The four Bass brothers – Sid, Edward, Robert, and Lee – each inherited $2.8 million from their oil tycoon uncle Sid Richardson after his death in 1959. They invested the money into the family business to help it grow. Most of their stakes are said to be private, ranging from aerospace firm Aerion to ice cream maker Blue Bell.
The brothers decided to sell their oil company to ExxonMobil in 2017. Currently, all of them are also philanthropists, giving millions of dollars to universities such as Stanford, Duke, and Yale.
The Busch FamilyNet worth: $13.4 billionSource of wealth: Anheuser-Busch
Adolphus Busch was the German co-founder of Anheuser-Busch with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser. This family decided to set forth into the business of beer. Though you may not know the Busch name, you’ve certainly heard of their most famous beer: Budweiser.
The business has been around for 146 years. However, an estimated 25% of the business was sold between 1989 and 2008. Eventually, it was fully brought out for $52 billion in 2008. As of the moment, there are almost 30 members of the family who have split the resulting fortune.
The Hunt FamilyNet worth: $13.7 billionSource of wealth: Hunt Oil Company
The family’s wealth began accumulating when Haroldson Lafayette Hunt Jr. – also known as H.L. Hunt – got into the oil business. By trading poker winnings for oil rights, he was able to buy the title of the East Texas Oil Field, one of the largest oil deposits in America.
H.L.Hunt had 14 children, and each one of them ventured into business just like their father. His eldest children – Margaret and H.L.Hunt III – sold the Hunt Petroleum to XTO Energy in 2008 for $4.2 billion in cash and stocks. Ray and W. Herbert own Hunt Oil and Petro-Hunt. Caroline, their daughter, founded Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. They are indeed a business-oriented family! Of course, it helps to have billions at your disposal to buy or start any business that takes your fancy.
The du Pont familyNet worth: $14.3 billionSource of wealth: The DuPont company
The du Pont family descended from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, and they have ranked among the richest American families in America since the mid-19th century. Most of their wealth stems from their gunpowder business.
Through the years, they ventured into the chemical business, producing everything from dynamite to plastics. They are also responsible for nylon and Teflon. Like the Sacklers, the DuPonts are a controversial family, and they have had a lot of legal battles over time. Currently, about 3,500 members are splitting the fortune, and no one from the family runs the company.
The Ziff familyNet worth: $14.4 billionSource of wealth: Ziff Davis Inc.
The Ziff brothers – Dirk, Robert, and Daniel – inherited Ziff-Davis, a publisher founded by their grandfather, William Bernard Ziff Sr, in 1927. In 1994, William sold the company for $1.4 billion, and the brothers went on to grow the inheritance through investments.
It has been reported that they have invested some of their billions with hedge funds. However, they’ve also purchased other companies. One of the brothers, Dirk, owns the World Surf League, which is the main organization for professional surfers.
The Dorrance FamilyNet worth: $17.1 billionSource of wealth: Campbell’s Soup
John Thompson Thomas is the inventor and chemist who discovered a method of creating condensed soup. This is how we came to have Campbell’s Soup. Thomas served as the president of the Campbell’s Soup Company from 1914 to 1930.
As of writing, 11 members of the Dorrance family own 50% of Campbell’s Soup. Moreover, this family also owns other brands of soup, such as V8 and Pepperidge Farm, producing more than $8 billion in annual revenue.
The SC Johnson familyNet worth: $18.2 billionSource of wealth: SC Johnson
This infamous family is behind the SC Johnson company, which produces a lot of brands such as Glade, Mr. Muscle, Raid, Pledge, Windex, and many more. The company was established in 1882, and it still rings a bell in every household.
The family faced an uncomfortable legal battle over the inheritance of the company. When Herbert died, he didn’t leave a will. With so much money at stake, a feud erupted until it was eventually divided between his two children. At the time of writing, a fifth-generation Johnson – Herbert Fisk Johnson III – is the president and CEO of the company.
The Newhouse FamilyNet worth: $18.5 billionSource of funds: Advance Publications
The Newhouse family originated from a publishing empire that Sam Newhouse started in 1992 – Advance Publications. The two sons of the family – Si and Donald – had their respective segments. Si ran the magazine division, while Donald oversaw the television and newspaper segment.
In today’s generation, Advance’s holdings include Conde Nast Publications, which prints Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and a range of newspapers in almost 24 cities. In 2016, it was reported that Sam’s sons sold the Bright House Networks for $11.4 billion in cash and stocks.
The Lauder FamilyNet worth: $22.4 billionSource of wealth: Estée Lauder
Estée Lauder is one of the world’s biggest make-up brands. The business started when a visionary woman, Estée Lauder, and her husband created the company in 1946. At the time, they only supplied four original beauty products. Today, they own other brands, including MAC and Clinique, and generate $12 billion in revenue.
Sons Leonard and Ronald are also contributors to the company and are considered major art collectors. Leonard donated $1 billion worth of paintings and sculptures to the MET. Aside from that, they are also active philanthropists, regularly donating to various charities.
The Hearst FamilyNet worth: $24.5 billionSource of wealth: Hearst Corporation
This family’s wealth started with William Randolph Hearst Sr, who developed the largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications. It includes the San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire.
Right now, almost 67 members are sharing the family fortune. Two of the most famous family members are sisters Gillian and Lydia Hearst. Lydia is a lifestyle blogger, fashion model, and actress, while Gillian works as an editor.
The Duncan FamilyNet worth: $24.8 billionSource of wealth: Enterprise Products Partners
The wealth of the Duncan family began with Dan Duncan in 1986 when he founded Enterprise Products Partners with just $10,000. It has been reported that Dan worked hard when he was still in his youth. He didn’t have the easiest upbringing either, as he had to move in with his grandmother after his mother died when he was only seven.
After Dan passed away in 2010, his four children – Randa, Milane, Dannine, and Scott – inherited a $10 billion estate. Because of the rising stock price and generous dividend payouts, their inheritance has since more than doubled.
The Pritzker FamilyNet worth: $26.5 billionSource of wealth: Hyatt Hotels
The Pritzker family is considered a powerful one. However, they experienced a feud in the 2000s because of disputes over their fortune, which includes the Hyatt Hotels. A.N. Pritzker and sons Jay, Donald, and Robert are the founders of the hotel chain, and they also invested in holdings, such as Marmon Group.
Aside from being business people, some of the family have entered into politics, with J.B Pritzker becoming governor of Illinois in 2019, while his sister Penny Pritzker served as Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration. Currently, the family’s fortune is split among the 13 members of the family, and 11 of them are billionaires.
The Cox FamilyNet worth: $37.2 billionSource of wealth: Cox Enterprises
Cox Enterprises (Cox Communications) is a big player in the media industry. Aside from being part of the media circle, the family has stakes in the automotive industry, earning them $21.1 billion in 2019. James M. Cox was the founder of the company in 1898.
Jim Kennedy, one of the third generation members of the Cox family, currently chairs the board. He was the CEO from 1988 to 2008. Currently, Alex C. Taylor is the CEO and president of the company.
The (Edward) Johnson FamilyNet worth: $38.7 billionSource of wealth: Fidelity
Edward Johnson II was the mind behind Fidelity Investments. He became involved in stock market research in 1924, and this made him more interested in investments. Currently, their family owns 49% of the company, and this is shared by four members.
Abigail Johnson is part of the third generation of the family, and she took over management of the company from her dad, Edward “Ned” Johnson III, in 2014. Reports have suggested that Fidelity investments had $3.5 trillion in managed assets as of September 2020, making it the second-largest mutual fund company after Vanguard.
The Cargill-MacMillan familyNet worth: $38.8 billionSource of wealth: Cargill Inc.
In 1895, William Wallace Cargill founded Cargill Inc. By 2008, it was the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue. At the time, it employed over 150,000 people in more than 68 countries. The company sells and markets food, provides financial risk management, and trades commodities.
As of writing, 23 members of the Cargill-MacMillian family own 88% of the company, and Martha MacMillian is one of the heirs. They generate $108 billion in annual revenues. It has been said that the family keeps 80% of Cargill Inc’s net income inside the company for reinvestment. A good strategy, indeed!
The Mars FamilyNet worth: $72 billionSource of wealth: Mars Inc.
The Mars family is the owner of Mars Inc – one of the largest candy and pet food companies, with sales of $40 billion. They owned M&Ms, Milky Way, and Mars Bars, among many other brands. In 1988, Fortune magazine ranked them the richest family in the world. However, two families (who you’ll meet next) have surpassed them in wealth since then.
Frank Mars was the founder of Mars Inc, which started out innocently enough with him selling candy in Tacoma, Washington. Jacqueline and John Mars inherited the company when their father passed away in 1999. Most of the family members work for the company. They also run the Mars Foundation, which donates to educational, environmental, health, and cultural causes.
The Koch FamilyNet worth: $107 billionSource of wealth: Koch Industries
Koch Industries was founded by Fred C. Koch, who developed another method for the refinement of heavy crude oil into gasoline. It is now America’s largest private company. One of the sons, Charles, took over as CEO and chairman when Fred passed away in 1967. Fred’s three other sons – Frederick, David, and Bill – inherited stakes in the company.
There have been reports of a power struggle between the brothers, and this led to Frederick and Bill’s removal from the company. Their shares were reportedly bought for nearly $800 million in 1983. Aside from the oil product, Charles diversified the business by including paper products, chemicals, and venture capital funds.
The Walton FamilyNet worth: $169.7 billionSource of wealth: Walmart
The Walton Family is America’s richest family, according to Forbes. They have their company, Walmart, to thank for this unbelievable wealth. Walmart is America’s largest retailer but also the largest employer, with more than 2.2 million staff on the books. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, has three heirs – Rob, Jim, and Alice.
The fortune of the Walton family is divided among seven members of the family, including Sam’s children. Reports have said that Walmart is making $500 billion in sales per year. Aside from Walmart, the family also owns Arvest Bank, which operates 16 banks in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas.