Forbes' 400 Richest Americans: The Old, The Bold And The Scrappy

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Forbes published its annual list of the 400 richest Americans this week, and though there's not a huge disruption in the status quo (Bill Gates is still richer than us all), there's a strong presence of young innovators entering the upper echelons of wealth. First, a few head-spinning facts: The average net worth of those on this list is $5 billion — each. Together, they're worth a whopping $2 trillion. You need to scrape at least $1.3 billion to make the list at all (we were so close), but it's heartening to learn that over half the billionaires on the list weren't born with a silver spoon — they earned their insane wealth all by themselves.

A lot of those self-made extreme earners come, unsurprisingly, from the tech sector, which ranks just behind "investments" in the Forbes' 400 career list. They include Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Reid Hoffman, and Jeffrey Skoll. In particular, Zuckerberg had a good year, climbing back into the Top 20 overall, and increasing his fortune to $19 billion in the past 12 months. With earnings like that, who says Facebook is past its peak?

It's a tough chart to crack, but twenty newcomers managed to grace the bottom half, including Auto Loans tycoon Don Hankey (#342) and GoPro's Nicholas Woodman (#386). Women are slowly increasing their presence in the top 400, too, with 48 total female earners gracing it this year. (Tory Burch, a bona fide billionaire, is still too poor to make the cut.) We've still got a ways to go, but at least there's Oprah, one of the seven self-made women on the list. Then, of course, there's Alice Walton, the heiress of Walmart. She cracked the top ten at #8 — and gets her own Forbes cover story, to boot. [Forbes]
forbes400Photo via: Forbes