Billion-Dollar Dynasties: These Are The Richest Families In America

Forbes’ definitive ranking of the nation’s 50 wealthiest clans includes the heirs to some of the country’s best known brands: Campbell’s Soup, Jack Daniel’s, Walmart and Chick-fil-A

Rockefeller Family
Photo: AP Photo/Engelbrech
Rockefeller Family

It’s been a good half-decade for the wealthiest families in America. Thanks to soaring markets, the 50 clans on Forbes’ latest ranking of America’s Richest Families are worth a collective $1.2 trillion—up about 30% from $916 billion in 2015. These families are all worth at least $7.3 billion, up from $6 billion five years ago, the last time we ranked that many.

The Waltons remain the richest. The descendants of Walmart founders Sam Walton (d. 1992) and Bud Walton (d. 1995) own about half of the retailing giant’s stock, which generates more than $700 million in dividend income for the family every year. They’re followed by the Kochs, who own 84% of Koch Industries, which does $115 billion in revenues from businesses that include pipelines, chemicals, Dixie cups and Stainmaster carpet. One of the few families whose fortunes fell since 2015: the Sacklers, owners of opioid producer Purdue Pharma—which has been sued by attorneys general in nearly every U.S. state for the company’s alleged role in the opioid crisis. (See story here.)

Other notable products produced by these ultra-rich families include: M&Ms and Pedigree pet food (Mars family) Jack Daniel’s whiskey (Brown family), Campbell’s Soup (Dorrance family) and Gap clothing (Fisher family). Both the Simplot and Reyes families are key food suppliers to McDonald’s. While the Du Ponts and Rockefellers are on the list, some of America’s most storied dynasties—like Astor, Vanderbilt and Ford—don’t make the cut, their fortunes having largely dissipated over multiple generations.  

Those who have made their fortunes in the modern era, amassing enormous wealth in five decades or less include the Hughes family, who control self-storage giant Public Storage; the Cathys, owners of Chick-fil-A; and the Chaos, of Westlake Chemical, one of the country's largest producers of low-density polyethylene, used for milk cartons and other food packaging. The only Asian-Americans and nonwhites to make these ranks—just one sign of a racial wealth gap in the country—the Chaos trace their fortune in the U.S. to the 1980s, when T.T. Chao (d. 2008) moved his family from Taiwan to this country and founded Westlake Chemical.

Of course, just because these families are super rich doesn’t mean they’re happy. Six of the clans on this year’s list have gone through very bitter—and very public—family feuds, including legal battles over trust funds, sham adoptions and even murder accusations.

Here is Forbes’ definitive ranking of the 50 richest families in America. Up/down is compared to their net worth in 2015. (See below the list for the full methodology.)


1. Walton Family

• Worth: $247 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Walmart


2. Koch Family

• Worth: $100 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: diversified


3. Mars Family

• Worth: $94 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: candy


4. Cargill-MacMillan Family

• Worth: $47 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Cargill Inc.


5. Lauder Family

• Worth: $40 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Estee Lauder


6. S.C. Johnson Family

• Worth: $37 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: cleaning products


7. (Edward) Johnson Family

• Worth: $36 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: money management


8. Cox Family

• Worth: $34.5 billion

• Change: EVEN

• Origin of Wealth: media


9. Pritzker Family

• Worth: $32.5 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Hotels, investments


10. Newhouse Family

• Worth: $30 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: magazines, newspapers


11. Duncan Family

• Worth: $22 billion

• Change: DOWN

• Origin of Wealth: pipelines


12. Hearst Family

• Worth: $21 billion

• Change: DOWN

• Origin of Wealth: Hearst Corp.


13. Brown Family

• Worth: $20.4 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: liquor


14. Marshall Family

• Worth: $18.5 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: diversified


15. Butt Family

• Worth: $17.8 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: supermarkets


16. Busch Family

• Worth: $17.6 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Anheuser -Busch


17. Du Pont Family

• Worth: $16 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: DuPont


18. Hunt Family

• Worth: $15.5 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: oil


19. Dorrance Family

• Worth: $15 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Campbell Soup Co.


20. Ziff Family

• Worth: $15 billion

• Change: EVEN

• Origin of Wealth: publishing


21. Cathy Family

• Worth: $14.2 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Chick-fil-A


22. Stryker Family

• Worth: $14 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: medical equipment


23. Goldman Family

• Worth: $13.2 billion

• Change: NEW

• Origin of Wealth: real estate


24. Rollins Family

• Worth: $13.1 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Orkin pest control


25. Gallo Family

• Worth: $12.4 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: wine, liquor


26. Reyes Family

• Worth: $12 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: food & beer distribution


27. Kohler Family

• Worth: $11.7 billion

• Change: NEW

• Origin of Wealth: plumbing products, sinks


28. Mellon Family

• Worth: $11.5 billion

• Change: EVEN

• Origin of Wealth: banking


29. Smith Family

• Worth: $11.3 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: tools, banking


30. Bass Family

• Worth: $10.8 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: oil, investments


• Worth: $10.8 billion

• Change: DOWN

• Origin of Wealth: pain medicines


32. Johnson Family

• Worth: $10.7 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Johnson & Johnson


• Worth: $10.4 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: hotels


34. Crown Family

• Worth: $10.2 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: investments


34. Hughes Family

Worth: $10.2 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Public Storage Inc.


36. Pigott Family

• Worth: $10.1 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: trucks


37. Shoen Family

• Worth: $9 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: U-Haul


38. (Don & Doris) Fisher Family

• Worth: $8.9 billion

• Change: DOWN

• Origin of Wealth: The Gap


39. Jenkins Family

• Worth: $8.8 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Publix Super Markets


40. Chao Family

• Worth: $8.6 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: chemicals


40. (Charles & Rupert) Johnson Family

• Worth: $8.6 billion

• Change: DOWN

• Origin of Wealth: mutual funds


40. Phipps Family

• Worth: $8.6 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Carnegie Steel, Bessemer Trust


• Worth: $8.4 billion

• Change: DOWN

• Origin of Wealth: oil


43. E.W. Scripps Family

• Worth: $8.4 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: newspapers


• Worth: $8.3 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: construction, engineering


46. Gore Family

• Worth: $8.2 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: Gore-Tex


47. Durst Family

• Worth: $8.1 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: real estate


48. Taylor Family

• Worth: $7.8 billion

• Change: NEW

• Origin of Wealth: Enterprise Rent-A-Car


49. Simplot Family

• Worth: $7.7 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: agribusiness


50. Barbey Family

• Worth: $7.3 billion

• Change: UP

• Origin of Wealth: textiles, apparel


METHODOLOGY

Unlike our flagship Forbes 400 list of America’s richest people and our World’s Billionaires ranks, which focus on individual or nuclear-family wealth, America’s Richest Families includes multigenerational families of all sizes, ranging from just 2 brothers to the 4,000 members of the Du Pont clan. (Note: We left out self-made entrepreneurs who founded their companies and already appear with their nuclear family on our Billionaires list. That includes Rupert Murdoch and J. Joe Ricketts. Also absent are married couples like Tom and Judy Love.)

To value their fortunes, we added up their assets, including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, art and cash, and took into account estimates of debt. For those with publicly traded holdings, we used stock prices from the close of trading on December 4, 2020. We excluded any assets irrevocably pledged to charitable foundations. We attempted to vet these numbers with all the families or their representatives. Some cooperated; others didn’t. Think we missed a family? Email tips@forbes.com, and we’ll investigate.


Edited by Kerry A. Dolan, Chase Peterson-Withorn and Jennifer Wang

Reporters: Angel Au-Yeung, Deniz Cam, Hayley Cuccinello, Sergei Klebnikov, Andrea Murphy, Ariel Shapiro, Giacomo Tognini, Lisette Voytko

Research: Susan Radlauer

Database manager: Dmitri Slavinsky

Additional reporting by: Elisabeth Brier, Kenrick Cai, Lauren Debter, Abigail Freeman, Sarah Hansen, Eliza Haverstock, Katherine Love, Chloe Sorvino

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24 июля родились
Жаксыбек Кулекеев
экс-министр экономики и торговли РК, научный руководитель Центра исследований прикладной экономики
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