According to Forbes, there are currently 45 American families with a net worth of at least $10 billion. The Walton family, who founded Walmart, is the wealthiest family on the list, with a combined net worth of $267 billion as of January 16th. This figure surpasses Elon Musk’s net worth, which is estimated to be around $202 billion. Together, these 45 super-rich families have an estimated total net worth of approximately $1.3 trillion, which is about ten times that of Warren Buffett’s personal fortune.
The Mars family is the second wealthiest family after the Waltons and possesses a fortune of $117 billion. Other well-known families such as Koch, Lauder, Hearst, and Marriott are also included in the rankings. Notable names like Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Getty have been omitted from the rankings due to reasons including stock-price performance, legal disputes, taxes on stock sales, and charitable giving. The descendants of John D. Rockefeller barely made Forbes’ list with a fortune of $10.3 billion.
Many of America’s wealthiest families built their fortunes by establishing the country’s largest private companies or maintaining ownership stakes in public companies they helped build. For instance, the Cargill-MacMillan family is worth over $60 billion due to their ownership of about 88% of Cargill, a major ingredients company. Other families still maintain ownership stakes in public companies they helped build such as the Dorrance family with nearly 40% of Campbell Soup and the Brown family with about half of Brown-Forman. Additionally, some families have sold their stakes in businesses like the Busch family who sold its stake in Anheuser-Busch to InBev in 2008 and the Haslam family who sold their stake in Pilot Travel Centers for about $13 billion to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway over several years.