“Let me tell you about the rich. They are different from you and me.” So wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 1926 short story The Rich Boy. Would it help us to understand the mysteries of the implausibly rich if we knew which was the wealthiest family in each state? Find out by reading this fascinating list we’ve compiled identifying — as of April 2022 and according to Forbes magazine — the wealthiest people in every State of the Union.
Alabama: Jimmy Rane
Net worth: $900 million
Not one to shun the limelight, Jimmy Rane has appeared in advertisements for his timber products resplendent in a fetching dude-cowboy outfit. The color note of his kit is yellow, hence his nickname “Yella Fella.” His is a heartwarming American success story since, with the help of his brother Greg, he has transformed a small-scale timber outfit with sales of $22,000 in 1971 into a billion-dollar business.
Alaska: Leonard Hyde and Jonathan Rubini
Net worth: $340 million each
Industry: Real estate
Alaska is one of the six states in this list with no confirmed billionaire, but even so, the bank balances of Leonard Hyde and Jonathan Rubini look pretty healthy. The duo are partners in their real-estate business, with substantial property holdings in Anchorage and elsewhere. Apparently Rubini talked Hyde into quitting his job to set up JL Properties with him. Looks like it was a smart move.
Arizona: Ernest Garcia II
Net worth: $9.4 billion
Industry: Used cars
Ernest Garcia II’s wealth comes from being the largest single shareholder of publicly listed Carvana, which sells used cars and brokers loans to pay for them. It was actually his son Ernest Garcia III who started the company in 2012 and he, too, is a billionaire. Yet somehow the father’s wealth, $9.4 billion, far outshines the son’s, a mere $3.4 billion. Go figure.
Arkansas: Jim Walton
Net worth: $60.02 billion
Heir to the massive Walmart chain of stores, Jim is the son of the late Sam Walton, the brand’s founder, who opened the very first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas, back in 1962. In fact, Walmart is now on its third generation of Waltons as Jim resigned his seat on the company board in 2016, passing it on to his son Steuart. To date, Steuart hasn’t made it onto the Forbes list of billionaires. One day, surely.
California: Mark Zuckerberg
City: Palo Alto
Net worth: $79.4 billion
Tech giant Meta owns a range of companies with the best-known being Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. The vast majority of the company’s big bucks — 97.5 percent in 2021 according to Yahoo!Finance — comes from advertising on its platforms. Zuckerberg’s billions come from his almost 13 percent stake in Meta, where he is chief executive. According to Forbes, in 2015 he promised that he would give away 99 percent of his wealth before he died.
Colorado: Philip Anschutz
Net worth: $11.3 billion
Forbes tells us that Philip Anschutz started in business aged six selling Kool-Aid to college students from a home-made stand. But he later moved out of flavored water and extended his reach into everything from telecoms to oil, property, railroads and entertainment. He rounds off his business empire with an apparent enthusiasm for sports, owning the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and holding shares in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball outfit.
Connecticut: Ray Dalio
Net worth: $22 billion
Industry: Hedge funds
Ray Dalio’s fabulous riches are generated by his Bridgewater Associates hedge fund. Any idea what a hedge fund actually does? No, us neither. Investopedia says they “are actively managed investment pools,” but warns that hedge funds “are considered risky alternative investment choices.” Dalio’s investment skills apparently originated from his childhood, when he took share tips from businessmen as he caddied for them.
Delaware: Elizabeth Snyder
Net worth: $885 million
Perhaps you own a Gore-Tex jacket or shoes? Certainly enough people do to make Elizabeth Snyder a very rich woman, although she falls a little short of the billionaire club. She inherited the business from her parents, Bill and Genevieve Gore, who founded the company in 1958. It’s truly a family affair, as it was Elizabeth’s brother Bob who invented Gore-Tex.
Florida: Thomas Peterffy
City: Palm Beach
Net worth: $22.1 billion
Industry: Discount brokerage
Thomas Peterffy offers a classic rags-to-riches story. Although descended from Hungarian aristocrats, he landed on American shores in 1965 aged 21 without a dime to his name. Described by Forbes as a “digital trading pioneer,” Peterffy chairs the Interactive brokers company which “markets its specialized trading platform to sophisticated investors.” He’s certainly fully committed to his adopted home state of Florida — he owns more than 500,000 acres of it.
Georgia: Jim Kennedy
Net worth: $8.1 billion
Industry: Media and automotive
The source of Jim Kennedy’s riches is Cox Enterprises where he was CEO for ten years and which he still chairs. The company, which has automotive and media interests, is a lucrative golden-egg-laying goose. It’s made not only Kennedy a billionaire but also his sister Blair Parry-Okeden and three of his cousins. They all have their grandfather James M. Cox to thank: he founded Cox Enterprises in 1898.
Hawaii: Larry Ellison
Net worth: $117 billion
Software made Larry Ellison an immensely wealthy man — he founded Oracle, originally called Software Development Laboratories, back in 1977. Until he sort-of-retired in 2014 he was the company’s chief technology officer and chairman. We say sort of, because he’s now on the board of Tesla. In 2012 he decided he needed a slice of tropical paradise so he bought almost the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai, a snip at $300 million.
Idaho: Frank VanderSloot
City: Idaho Falls
Net worth: $3.1 billion
Industry: Nutrition, wellness products
Frank VanderSloot wasn’t one of those billionaires born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He came into the world in 1948 and by the age of 12 he was running the family farm in lieu of his father. He was forced to work away from home to bring in enough money for his impoverished family. Now VanderSloot is boss of Melaleuca, which sells everything from dietary supplements to eco-friendly cleaning products.
Illinois: Ken Griffin
Net worth: $28.4 billion
Industry: Hedge funds
With his company Citadel, Ken Griffin is another one of those hedge-fund billionaires. Forbes records that Griffin started trading stocks in 1987 while still studying at Harvard. He went so far as to have a satellite dish installed on his dorm building’s roof so he could follow market movements in real time.
Indiana: Carl Cook
Net worth: $12.2 billion
Industry: Medical devices
Carl Cook owes his hefty bank balance to the success of Cook Group, which manufactures medical devices. His parents, Bill and Gayle, founded the company in 1963 — initially operating the business from a spare bedroom in their Bloomington apartment. Bill died in 2011, and that’s when Carl stepped in as CEO. The potential dangers of extreme wealth were starkly illustrated by Gayle Cook’s kidnapping in 1989. Fortunately, she was rescued by the FBI after a terrifying 26-hour ordeal.
Iowa: Harry Stine
Net worth: $7.3 billion
Born to a farming family, Harry Stine drove his first tractor when he was just five years old. Despite his mild autism and dyslexia, he rose from his humble background to be a leading seed-genetics guru with his firm the Stine Seed Company. His firm’s runaway success was based on improved soybean seeds, which he brought to market in 1979.
Kansas: Charles Koch
Net worth: $62.9 billion
Industry: Koch Industries
Charles Koch’s massive wealth comes from Koch Industries, a company with a finger in an astonishingly wide range of pies. Electronics, bedding, beef, fabrics — we could go on, but suffice to say this company has diversity in spades. Charles’ dad, Fred, founded the Wood River Oil and Refining Company in 1940. Charles became chief executive in 1967 after his father’s death and renamed it Koch Industries.
Kentucky: Tamara Gustavson
Net worth: $9.1 billion
Tamara Gustavson is a billionaire thanks to the fact that back in 1972 her father, B. Wayne Hughes, was one of the founders of the Public Storage company. Today, she owns an 11 percent shareholding in the highly successful firm and she’s also a board member. Like her dad, Gustavson is keen on horses, so much so that she lives at the Spendthrift Farm horse breeding stables.
Louisiana: Gayle Benson
City: New Orleans
Net worth: $3.8 billion
Industry: Pro sports teams
Gayle Benson, Tom Benson’s third wife, came into ownership of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans and the NFL’s New Orleans Saints after her husband died in 2018. Unfortunately, it seems that the Bensons are not the happiest of families, since Mr Benson’s daughter and grandchildren challenged Gayle’s right to ownership of the teams through the courts. That unseemly wrangle came to an end in 2017 with a secret out-of-court agreement, Forbes reports.
Maine: Susan Alfond
Net worth: $3 billion
Susan Alfond’s father Harold founded the Dexter Shoe Company in 1958. It was a roaring success, presumably helped by the fact that most of us have two feet that need to be shod. Harold sold the company to one Warren Buffet in 1993 for $420 million-worth of shares in his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. As Alfond is now worth $3 billion, it seems like that was a good deal.
Maryland: Mitchell Rales
Net worth: $6.3 billion
Industry: Manufacturing, investments
Sometime near the beginning of the 1980s Mitchell Rales and his brother Steven went on a fishing trip in Western Montana, casting their lines in the Danaher. They took the name of the river and used it for the company they founded in 1984. It’s become a manufacturing conglomerate with interests that range from tools to voting machines. Mitchell has obviously done pretty well for himself, but his brother’s done even better: he’s worth $9.1 billion.
Massachusetts: Abigail Johnson
Net worth: $23.3 billion
Industry: Money management
We can trace the origins of Abigail Johnson’s wealth back to her grandfather, Edward Johnson II, although her Harvard MBA may also have been a help. Abigail took over as CEO and chair of Fidelity Investments, a wealth management firm, in 2014 from her father Edward Johnson III. The company looks after more than $4.2 trillion of other people’s money and Abigail owns just short of 25 percent of the stock.
Michigan: Daniel Gilbert
Net worth: $22.2 billion
Industry: Mortgage broking
Forbes informs us that Daniel Gilbert started mortgage lender Quicken Loans — now Rocket Cos — in 1985 when he was 22. He did that with 5,000 bucks he’d earned selling pizzas while a college student. When Rocket Cos went public in 2020 it was valued at a cool $36 billion. Not a bad return on the original investment. Perhaps it’s time to start selling pizza?
Minnesota: Glen Taylor
Net worth: $2.7 billion
He might have more money than he can feasibly spend in a lifetime, but it wasn’t always so for Glen Taylor. He was born in Minnesota into a poor farming family in 1941 and his first work experience was laboring on neighboring farms for a dollar an hour. As well as printing, the company he founded, Taylor Corporation, operates in marketing, branding, and direct mailing among a host of other areas. Taylor also owns stakes in pro sports teams such as the Timberwolves.
Mississippi: Thomas and James Duff
Net worth: $2 billion each
Despite the brand name of Homer Simpson’s favorite beverage, Duff brothers Thomas and James have no brewing interests. Rather their company Duff Capital Investors oversees a variety of activities ranging from trucking to construction and energy. They’re also keen on tires. Their father Ernest Duff sold his Southern Tire Mart in 1998 but five years later the brothers brought it back into the family fold.
Missouri: Pauline MacMillan Keinath
City: St. Louis
Net worth: $9.2 billion
Back in 1865 one W.W. Cargill started a business in Iowa which consisted of a single grain storage warehouse strategically placed by a railroad terminal. Fast-forward a century-and-a-half or so and now Cargill, Forbes tells us, is “the world’s biggest food company.” Pauline MacMillan Keinath, W.W.’s great-granddaughter, owns an estimated 13 percent of the company:a handy inheritance.
Montana: Dennis Washington
Net worth: $7.1 billion
Industry: Construction and mining
Straight out of high school, Dennis Washington started his working life as a machinery greaser in Alaska before graduating to the heady heights of heavy-crane operator. Next he spent a spell working for a construction company owned by an uncle. Then in 1964 aged 30 he decided to set up his own business, Washington Construction. Things worked out rather well for a man who had recovered from a childhood bout of polio.
Nebraska: Warren Buffett
Net worth: $128.3 billion
Industry: Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
According to the Forbes Real-time Billionaires List only three Americans — Musk, Bezos, and Gates — have more money than Warren Buffett. Despite his spectacular wealth, Buffet still lives in the Omaha home he bought for $31,500 in 1958. In 2017 website Business Insider quoted Buffet as saying that the house was “the third-best investment he’s ever made.” The website calculated that it was “worth about 0.001 percent of his total wealth.”
Nevada: Miriam Adelson
City: Las Vegas
Net worth: $28.9 billion
Miriam Adelson came into a more than half-share of the $48-billion Las Vegas Sands casino outfit upon the death of her husband Sheldon Adelson in January 2021. Born in Tel Aviv in 1945 Miriam Adelson, née Farbstein, is a qualified doctor whose speciality was addiction. So it’s no surprise that she and her husband used some of their riches to found a Las Vegas clinic that helps people hooked on opiates.
New Hampshire: Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli
Net worth: $720 million
Industry: Consumer products
The Reimann clan is one of Germany’s and Europe’s wealthiest families. Their dynastic riches originated in the early 19th century, when Ludwig Reimann joined the JAB chemicals company. In the 1950s JAB diversified into consumer goods when Reimann-Ciardelli’s father was boss. It’s the money from this highly profitable enterprise that makes Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli, an American citizen, so wealthy today.
New Jersey: Rocco Commisso
City: Saddle River
Net worth: $6.5 billion
Rocco Commisso arrived in the States from Italy in 1962 at the age of 12. His first wages in the U.S. came from playing the accordion during cinema intermissions. But his future lay not in the musical world, but in telecoms. He founded cable company Mediacom in 1995 and is still its CEO. He also owns one of Europe’s top soccer teams, the Italian Serie A side Fiorentina.
New Mexico: Ron Corio
Net worth: Less than $1 billion
Industry: Solar power
As the Albuquerque Journal’s website proudly announced in April 2021, Ron Corio had become New Mexico’s first billionaire with Forbes valuing his wealth at $1.1 billion. Sadly, by April 2022 Corio had dropped off the list, but he is probably still his state’s wealthiest individual. He’s made his money from the solar-panel component company he founded in 1989, Array Technologies.
New York: Michael Bloomberg
City: New York
Net worth: $82 billion
Three-term mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg is said to have spent $1 billion on his unsuccessful bid to be named the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. Bloomberg started on the road to becoming a billionaire in 1966 with an entry-level position at Salomon Brothers. But the real money started to roll in after he founded his media and financial data outfit Bloomberg LP in 1981.
North Carolina: James Goodnight
Net worth: $7.7 billion
James Goodnight co-founded analytics software company SAS in 1976 along with partner John Sall, who’s also a billionaire. According to Forbes, by 2020 the company had 83,000 corporate customers and was earning $3 billion a year. His first experience of the world of work came as an assistant in his father Albert’s hardware store in Wilmington, North Carolina.
North Dakota: Gary Tharaldson
Net worth: $1 billion
You might well have stayed in one of the assets that got Gary Tharaldson on the road to riches —Super 8 Motels. He bought his first one in 1982 and eventually owned around 350 properties. In 2006 he sold off 130 hotels for $1.2 billion to Goldman Sachs, using the proceeds to diversify into various property developments.
Ohio: Les Wexner
City: New Albany
Net worth: $5.8 billion
Underwear, in the shape of Victoria’s Secret, was one of Les Wexner’s key routes to the billionaire club. He’s not entirely dependent on lingerie — he has a wide portfolio of retail interests. His links to evil Jeffrey Epstein have raised eyebrows but he has vigorously denied any knowledge of the man’s wrongdoings. In fact he claims that Epstein, once his finance manager, ripped him off for millions.
Oklahoma: Tom and Judy Love
City: Oklahoma City
Net worth: $10.1 billion
Industry: Retail and gas stations
Husband and wife Tom and Judy Love started out in 1964 with a single gas station in Watonga, Oklahoma, which they rented with a $5,000 loan from Tom’s folks. That grew into the 490-strong chain of outlets, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores. Forbes estimates the business now earns some $20.6 billion a year. It’s a truly family enterprise, since as well as Tom and Judy, three of the couple’s children are involved.
Oregon: Phil Knight
Net worth: $51.9 billion
Founding a major company such as Nike is one surefire way to become a billionaire. And that’s precisely what Phil Knight did back in 1964. Appropriately enough, Knight was a talented track athlete in his college days at the University of Oregon. The young entrepreneur teamed up with his athletics coach Bill Bowerman and the duo put up $500 each to start Blue Ribbon Sports, which evolved into the sportswear and sporting equipment retailer.
Pennsylvania: Jeff Yass
Net worth: $12 billion
Industry: Trading and investments
Jeff Yass crashed into the Forbes billionaire’s list in 2021 with his $12-billion fortune. The money came from the Wall Street trading firm Susquehanna International Group which he co-founded in 1987. Yass has an interesting method of keeping his staff sharp: traders are encouraged to enter World Series poker competitions. So Wall Street is all about gambling! In fact, Yass was once a professional gambler himself.
Rhode Island: Jonathan Nelson
Net worth: $2.2 billion
Industry: Private equity
Jonathan Nelson made his billions as chief executive of the investment firm he founded in 1989, Providence Equity Partners. He stepped down from the CEO job in January 2021 but remains with the company as executive chairman. Refreshingly, he has at least one big interest outside of making piles of money — jazz. Nelson is a member of the Newport Festival Foundation’s board.
South Carolina: Anita Zucker
Net worth: $1.9 billion
A child of Holocaust survivors, Anita Zucker started out as an elementary-school teacher. Her husband Jerry — who died in 2008 — founded InterTech Group in 1982. It has chemical, real estate and aerospace interests, earning an estimated $3 billion annually, and Zucker is its CEO. In the five years from 2013 Zucker gave away over $75 million dollars to a variety of causes, mainly connected with education and health.
South Dakota: T. Denny Sanford
City: Sioux Falls
Net worth: $3.4 billion
Industry: Credit cards, banking
T. Denny Sanford owns First Premier Bank, headquartered in Sioux Falls. According to Forbes, the bank has a total of only 17 branches. So how come Sanford is so rich? The answer lies in credit cards. First Premier concentrates on giving cards to high-risk customers and is one of the most prolific issuers of MasterCard plastic. Lax spending limits and punitive interest rates are the order of the day.
Tennessee: Thomas Frist Jr. & family
Net worth: $21.2 billion
Thomas Frist Jr. served as an Air Force surgeon before co-founding the Hospital Corporation of America with his father in 1968. It’s now a public company and Frist owns some 20 percent of the stock. Although he doesn’t now have a place on the board, it still has strong family input, since two of his sons are directors.
Texas: Elon Musk
Net worth: $286 billion
Industry: Tesla, SpaceX
At the time of writing, Elon Musk sits astride the world as its richest individual. So that obviously makes him the wealthiest person in Texas, where he relocated to from California in 2020. Tesla and SpaceX are the main cash cows that feed Musk’s apparently ever-growing mountain of money. Born in South Africa, website The Verge noted Musk started in business young: he sold a game called Blastar for $500 while still only 12.
Utah: Matthew Prince
City: Park City
Net worth: $4.6 billion
Industry: Cyber security
Matthew Prince was a co-founder of web security firm Cloudflare back in 2009. The company went public in 2019 and CEO Prince owns 13 percent of the shares. As well as providing security services, Cloudflare hosts websites and got into hot water a few years back for hosting controversial site 8chan. It cut links with 8chan shortly before going public.
Vermont: John Abele
Net worth: $640 million
John Abele was a co-founder in 1979 of medical device maker and developer Boston Scientific. Under his leadership the company went public in 1992 and within three years Abele had made his way onto the Forbes billionaires list. But he retired in 2005 and gave most of his money away, which explains his sub-billionaire status today.
Virginia: Jacqueline Mars
City: The Plains
Net worth: $33.5 billion
Industry: Candy, pet food
If you’ve never eaten a Mars Bar, we’d judge that you probably live in a cave high in a Himalayan mountain. Jacqueline Mars owns about a third of the company that makes the toothsome candy as well as a range of other sweet treats. And, perhaps surprisingly, pet food. Her grandfather founded the company in 1911; it’s still a family affair, with Jacqueline’s brother owning a third and four nieces the remainder.
Washington: Jeff Bezos
Net worth: $188.8 billion
Pipped at the post at the time of writing by Elon Musk as the world’s richest individual is Jeff Bezos, who is of course the man who gave us Amazon. Bezos actually started the online retail behemoth back in 1994 from his garage. Even though a 2019 divorce settlement with ex-wife Mackenzie Scott cost him a quarter of his 16-percent Amazon stake, Bezos remains stratospherically wealthy.
West Virginia: Jim Justice II
Net worth: Less than $1 billion
As recently as 2019 Jim Justice II appeared on the Forbes billionaire’s list with a fortune valued at $1.5 billion. But things have gone downhill since then. In March 2021 it emerged that the coal mogul owed $850 million to Greensill Capital, an outfit with its own financial problems. That was enough to knock him off the list. But we’re guessing that Justice is probably still West Virginia’s richest man.
Wisconsin: John Menard Jr.
City: Eau Claire
Net worth: $14.2 billion
Industry: Home improvement stores
Some love doing home improvements; others hate it. But John Menard, we’d guess, is a big fan. That’s because in 2020 his more-than-300 Menards stores operating in 15 states brought in an estimated $11.8 billion, according to Forbes. Menard started the family-owned business back in 1958 and he runs his company with a strict work ethic. Even senior executives have to punch in every morning.
Wyoming: John Mars
Net worth: $33.5 billion
Industry: Candy, food
John Mars’ sister is the wealthiest woman in Virginia but he takes that “richest” title over to the west in Wyoming. Like his sibling, Mars owns about a third of the company that bears the family name. The two, along with late brother Forrest Jr., inherited the business when their father died in 1999. As well as candy, the Mars company produces other foods, such as Uncle Ben’s rice.