People with the Highest Net Worth in the World and Where They Make Their Money From

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As the world’s economy evolves, it’s fascinating to observe the shifting landscape of wealth, as well as the individuals at the helm of various industries. Here’s a look at some of the wealthiest individuals in the world and the sources of their immense fortunes.

Bernard Arnault & family – $222.1 billion

Bernard Arnault is the man behind the LVMH empire, the largest luxury goods company in the world. The empire owns 75 brands in the fashion and beauty sectors, including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. In 2021, LVMH purchased American jeweler Tiffany & Co. for $15.8 billion—the biggest luxury brand acquisition in history.

Arnault has been successful in business since 1984 when he invested $15 million of his father’s construction business in purchasing Christian Dior.

Mark Zuckerberg – $94.1 billion

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, now rebranded as Meta, has accumulated a net worth of over $94 billion according to latest estimates. Zuckerberg’s journey began in 2004 when he launched Facebook at the age of 19 as a platform for Harvard students to match names with photos of their classmates. Over the years, Facebook has grown into a global social media giant, and Zuckerberg currently owns about 13% of the company’s stock.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have also pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes, demonstrating their commitment to philanthropy and social causes.

Amancio Ortega – $85.7 billion

Amancio Ortega, a Spanish clothing retailer, has become one of the richest people in the world. Ortega, a pioneer of fast fashion, co-founded Inditex in 1975 with his ex-wife Rosalia. Inditex is the company that owns the famous Zara fashion chain, as well as eight other brands including Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, and 7,500 stores in the world.

Ortega’s wealth has been further augmented by his astute real estate investments across major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and London. 

Zhong Shanshan – $62.4 billion

Zhong Shanshan’s rags-to-riches story is truly awe-inspiring. As the founder and chairman of Nongfu Spring, a leading bottled water company in China, Zhong has amassed a fortune of over $60 billion. Born in Hangzhou, Zhong dropped out of elementary school during China’s turbulent Cultural Revolution. He worked as a construction laborer, a newspaper reporter, and a beverage sales agent before starting his own business. Additionally, he controls Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy, which produces rapid diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, including Covid-19.

Sheldon Adelson – Around $40 billion

Sheldon Adelson, CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands, established himself as a dominant force in the gambling industry. With a net worth of around $40 billion at the time of his death, Adelson’s wealth is unrivaled among his peers. His casino empire (which includes the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas as well as a selection of offshore options like the Venetian Macau) was reportedly earning around $20 million per day at one point.

Adelson’s journey to success is an inspirational one. He achieved millionaire status at the age of 30, despite never finishing college. Beyond his gambling ventures, Adelson has also made a name for himself in philanthropy and political activism. 

Phil Knight & family – $41.5 billion

Phil Knight, founder of the athletic shoe giant Nike, has amassed a net worth of over $40 billion. Knight began his journey when he was a track athlete at the University of Oregon. He teamed up with Bill Bowerman, his former coach, to create Nike. The pair invested $500 each in 1964 to create what was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports, and would later become Nike. The company rakes in billions in revenues today, and is a major player in the athletic shoe industry. Knight also generously donated over $500 million to the University of Oregon.

Giovanni Ferrero – $39.1 billion

Giovanni Ferrero is the executive chairman of Ferrero’s confections company, best known for its iconic products such as Ferrero Rocher, Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, and Kinder chocolates. It also sells Tic Tacs mints, further helping add to the company’s huge profits.

In 2011, after the sudden death of his brother Pietro, Giovanni assumed the role of co-CEO. In 2017, he retired as a CEO, but remained executive chairman in order to focus on corporate strategies. Ferrero purchased Nestle’s U.S. confections division in 2018 for $2.8 billion.

Stephen Schwarzman – $28.6 billion

Stephen Schwarzman is the son of a store owner. He co-founded Blackstone in 1985 with Peter Peterson, another billionaire. Blackstone is now the largest buyout company in the world, with $941 billion worth of assets. Schwarzman, who has a net worth of $28.2 billion, is still the chairman and CEO. The entrepreneurial spirit of Schwarzman was evident as early as at his young age, when he opened a lawn mowing business aged 14. 

Jack Ma – $23.8 billion

Jack Ma, a former English teacher, co-founded Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses, in 1999. Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s executive chairman in 2019, but made headlines in March 2023 when he returned to China just as Alibaba announced plans to split itself into six businesses.

With a net worth of over $20 billion, Ma’s journey from humble beginnings to founding Alibaba and ultimately stepping down from his position at the company is a testament to his resilience, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Wrapping up

In sum, these individuals represent some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential figures. Their journeys to success have been marked by innovation, determination, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. As we continue to witness the evolution of the global economy, it will be fascinating to see how these titans of industry adapt, grow, and shape the world around them.

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