Believe it or not, there are a few dozen billionaire families in the United States, and almost all of them got their money in a different way. Some companies are newer and some are older, but they all made the list of our top 15 richest families in America (different from the richest individuals in America).
Here are the richest families in the country, plus how they made their billions, according to Forbes. Just wait till you see what family came in at No. 1.
15. The Du Pont family (chemicals)
- Net worth: $14.3 billion
The Du Pont family fortune dates all the way back to 1799, when E.I. Du Pont founded DuPont, a company that originally made gunpowder. It then expanded to working with various chemicals. DuPont invented nylon, Kevlar, and Teflon, and merged with Dow in 2015. Today, more than 3,500 Du Pont family members share the fortune worldwide.
Next: This family made billions through publishing.
14. The Ziff family (publishing)
- Net worth: $14.4 billion
Ziff Publishing began in 1927 when William Ziff Sr. started a publishing business. His son, William Smith Jr., built it into Ziff Davis, which was known for popular magazines like PC Magazine and Car and Driver. Smith Jr. sold the company for $1.4 billion in 1994, and his sons started Ziff Brothers Investments afterward. They’re worth more than $14 billion today.
Next: A soup formula built this family’s fortune.
13. The Dorrance family (Campbell Soup)
- Net worth: $17.1 billion
John T. Dorrance invented the formula for Campbell’s condensed soup in 1897. Today, the Campbell Soup Company also owns brands like Prego, V8, and Pepperidge Farm. The company has netted about $8 billion in revenue, and the fortune is currently split among 11 family members.
Next: This woman started out selling skin cream in salons.
12. The Lauder family (Estee Lauder)
- Net worth: $17.9 billion
Estee Lauder began when its founder, Estee Lauder, started selling her homemade skin creams to women in hair salons. She founded the company with her husband in 1946. Today, Estee Lauder owns 30 makeup brands, including Clinique and MAC. The fortune is split between five of Lauder’s descending relatives.
Next: This family’s sons turned their father’s business into billions.
11. The Newhouse family (magazines, television)
- Net worth: $18.5 billion
Samuel and Donald Newhouse inherited their father’s company, Advance Publications, and turned into a billion-dollar business. Advance’s holdings include Condé Nast, Reddit, Discovery Communications, and more than 25 newspapers throughout the U.S. Today, Donald Newhouse’s son runs the day-to-day operations of the business. The fortune is split among three family members.
Next: Gas and oil pipelines created this family’s wealth.
10. The Duncan family (pipelines)
- Net worth: $21.5 billion
Dan Duncan founded Enterprise Products Partners, which made its money with pipeline projects. Duncan died in 2010, and his kids took over and doubled the company’s net worth. A rise in stock prices helped lead the family to its $21.5 billion-dollar fortune. Today, the fortune is split among his children.
Next: This company’s founder used journalism to start a war.
9. The Hearst family (Hearst Corporation)
- Net worth: $28 billion
William Randolph Hearst founded Hearst Corporation in 1887. Hearst built his publication company into one of the largest in the world and even lead the U.S. into the Spanish-American War because of his journalism tactics. Today, Hearst Corp. owns hundreds of magazines and newspapers and has a large stake in cable television. 67 family members share the fortune.
Next: This family owns one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world.
8. The Edward Johnson family (money management)
- Net worth: $28.5 billion
Edward Johnson founded Fidelity in 1946. Fidelity is the second largest mutual fund company in the world, and the Johnson family owns about half of it. The company manages $1.8 trillion in assets. Johnson’s granddaughter is the CEO of the company today, and the fortune is shared among four family members.
Next: Hotels and investments gave this family their fortune.
7. The Pritzker family (hotels)
- Net worth: $29 billion
If you’re familiar with Hyatt, then you’re familiar with the Pritzker family. There are 11 billionaires in the Hyatt fortune, founded by the Pritzkers. The family feuded for years over trusts, and most of them separated themselves from the business. Today, Thomas Hyatt is the executive chairman of the company and the only member of the Pritzker family still involved with the chain.
Next: This Wisconsin family’s floor business turned into a cleaning product empire.
6. The S.C. Johnson family (cleaning products)
- Net worth: $30 billion
The second Johnson family on the list, the S.C. Johnson family got its start in 1886. Founder S.C. Johnson started a flooring company and later developed floor wax. Today, the company is worth about $9.6 billion and owns products like Ziploc, Pledge, and Glade. There was an inheritance issue when S.C. Johnson’s son, who had inherited the whole company after his father’s death in 1928, died without a will. The fortune was split 60/40 between his son and daughter.
Next: This family started in media, then expanded to automotive to make billions.
5. The Cox family (media)
- Net worth: $41 billion
Cox Enterprises got started in newspapers but eventually switched over to television and automotive. Today, Cox Enterprises owns Cox Communications, Cox Media Group, and DealerTrack, which is a software company used for car dealerships. The company also owns Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader.com. The fortune is shared among James Cox’s (the original founder) five grandchildren.
Next: Agribusiness put this family in the top richest families in America.
4. The Cargill-MacMillan family (Cargill, Inc.)
- Net worth: $49 billion
The Cargill-MacMillan family has more billionaires than any other family in the world (14 total). The family made its money in agribusiness with Cargill, Inc. and has been doing so since the Civil War. Founder W.W. Cargill started the company as a grain storage business. Today, the company has about $108 billion in revenue, but reinvests 80% of its income each year. The 17-person board is made up of only six Cargill-MacMillan family members, but that doesn’t stop the family from being chock full of billionaires.
Next: Who knew candy could make you billions?
3. The Mars family (candy)
- Net worth: $78 billion
There’s probably no more exciting way to make billions of dollars than with chocolate bars. The company was inherited by three siblings when their father, Forrest Mars, died after inheriting it from his grandfather. The best part? The siblings actually play no day-to-day role in the business. Their grandfather got his start by selling candy out of his kitchen. He later brought his son into the company, and the two invented malt-flavored nougat. They later invented M&Ms, and the inventions drove their sales into the billions.
Next: These brothers got their hands on investments that made them billionaires.
2. The Koch family (various investments)
- Net worth: $82 billion
Koch industries, operated by Koch brothers Charles and David, has invested in various businesses in recent years. The brothers got the money for expansion from their father, who developed a new oil refining process in the 1920s. The brothers actually have two other siblings who cashed out of the company for $400 million each in 1983. Today, they’re worth just a fraction of Charles and David. The Koch brothers most recently purchased Time, Inc., a well-known publication company, alongside Meredith Corporation in late 2017.
Next: The largest retailer in the world puts this family billions of dollars ahead of the rest.
1. The Walton family (Wal-Mart)
- Net worth: $130 billion
The founders of Wal-Mart are also the richest family in America. James and Sam Walton founded the business in Arkansas in 1962. Today, seven heirs own about half of the company. Wal-Mart’s board includes Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and the Walton children. The three children share most of the country’s largest fortune.
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