It is sometimes much like a sporting event when trying to keep track of which family is the wealthiest. In the year 2016, it was reported, there were 946 billionaires with too many millionaires even to count. Fortunes can be easily lost, but not for all, and some have fought the odds and held onto their wealth over generations and even increased it from one generation to the next.
You will see there are some familiar names on the top 10 richest American families right now list that have managed to stay wealthy and get even richer.
Table of Contents
- 10. Duncan Family: $22.4 billion
- 9. Johnson Family: $26 billion
- 8. S.C. Johnson Family: $28.8 billion
- 7. Pritzker Family: $30 billion
- 6. Hearst Family: $32 billion
- 5. Cox Family: $34.5 billion
- 4. Cargill-MacMillan Family: $45 billion
- 3. Mars Family: $80 billion
- 2. Koch Family: $86 billion
- 1. Walton Family: $149 billion
10. Duncan Family: $22.4 billion
The Duncan family consists of Randa Duncan Williams, Milane Frantz, Dannine Duncan Avara, and Scott Duncan. These siblings inherited a $10 billion estate when their father, Dan Duncan passed away in 2010. They have worked together since then and more than doubled its worth with generous dividend payouts and a rise in the stock price of the pipeline, Enterprise Products Partners.
Dan Duncan was raised poor in rural Texas and died at the age of 77. From the time he was seven years old, Dan was raised by his grandmother as his mother and father had died. He made his wealth from oil and gas pipelines. His oldest daughter, Randa is now chairman of the board of Enterprise Products Partners. It is estimated the net worth of the Duncan family is $22.4 billion.
9. Johnson Family: $26 billion
The Edward Johnson family is now run by third-generation Abigail Johnson who has taken over the role of CEO for their mutual fund, Fidelity. Abigail assumed these duties from her father, Ned. Ned’s father, the late Edward C. Johnson II founded the Boston-based company in 1946 and later turned it over to his son, Edward, ‘Ned’ Johnson III. Ned was in charge from 1977 through 2014 until he turned duties over to Abigail.
Ned remains chairman of the board of which has been named the second largest mutual fund company on the globe. Ned’s son, Edward Johnson IV is in charge of the family’s real estate company and his other daughter, Elizabeth is not involved in either business. Four family members share in the wealth. It is estimated the net worth of the Edward Johnson family is $26 billion.
8. S.C. Johnson Family: $28.8 billion
The S.C. Johnson family began as a small parquet flooring company and became a thriving global enterprise. Their products are carried in almost every country around the globe. In 1886, the founder, Samuel C. Johnson started out by buying a flooring business in Racine, Wisconsin. Four years later this business became a great place to work as Samuel began to offer employees paid vacations.
Samuel’s unconventional ideas grew as the firm grew and by the end of 1919 when he passed away, his wax product had become a household name around the world. Samuel’s son, Herbert joined the company, and it became a thriving family business. One of Samuel’s most enduring acts was his donations to support young people which today’s family members continue to honor. It is estimated the net worth of the S.C. Johnson family is $28.8 billion.
7. Pritzker Family: $30 billion
The Pritzker family’s fortune began in to accumulate in 1896 when Abram Nicholas, an unknown Jewish immigrant came to the United States from Kiev. He graduated from Harvard University with a degree in law and went to work in his father’s firm. Abram and his brother, Jack left their father’s company and started their luck in commerce by investing in real estate and small businesses. This move proved to be very lucrative, and they protected their wealth by putting money into a number of trusts.
Abram’s sons, Jay Arthur, Robert Alan, and Donald Nicholas continued to build the empire when they bought the Hyatt House hotel in Los Angles. The sons continued to build the chain and developed more than 150 Hyatt hotels across America. They also bought financially troubled companies and turned them around to become profitable. Their largest interest was the Marmon Group, a diversified holding company. It is estimated the net worth of the Pritzker family is $30 billion.
6. Hearst Family: $32 billion
The Hearst family can follow their roots back to William Randolph Hearst who was the son of a successful miner. He became the owner of the San Francisco Examiner when he was 24 years old and moved on to purchase more newspapers before entering the radio and television industry. By the early 1900’s, William entered politics and became a New York Congressman. William’s son, William Jr. was a Pulitzer Prize journalist, and his son, William the III now chairs the Hearst Corp.
The Hearst family owns 46 newspapers, has valuable stakes in cable TV, and 340 magazines around the globe. The company has a majority stake in a medical software firm, MedHOK. The Hearst family has had its share of scandal, including the famous kidnapping of Patty in 1970. It is estimated the net worth of the Hearst family is $32 billion.
5. Cox Family: $34.5 billion
The Cox family has changed its focus over the years and gone from newspapers to cable TV to automotive technology. This family’s wealth began to accumulate in 1898 when James M. Cox first bought the Dayton Evening News. He eventually expanded to radio and TV, and Cox Enterprises included Cox Communications and Cox Media Group. The Cox Media Group includes radio stations, television stations, and newspapers.
The Cox family made a $4 billion acquisition in 2014 when it took over a software maker for car dealerships. The family has expanded its portfolio to include owning Kelley Blue Book, AutoTrader.com, and Manheim car auctions. The family’s fortune is now divided between five of James’ grandchildren and is estimated to be worth $34.5 billion.
4. Cargill-MacMillan Family: $45 billion
The Cargill-MacMillan family is one of the largest of the billionaire families. There are fourteen in the immediate family along with numerous cousins who share in Cargill Inc. Cargill Inc. is one of the biggest private companies in America. The family’s revenue stems from its agribusiness where it sells foods, trades commodities, processes crops, provides financial risk management, and sources ingredients.
The Cargill-MacMillan family fortune began with W.W. Cargill who was the son of a Scottish sea captain founded a small grain storage company. He increased his wealth in the railroad and turned the Great Plains into America’s breadbasket. Today there are only six members of the family sitting on the Cargill 17-person board due to family factions in the mid-1990s. It is estimated the Cargill-Macmillan net worth is $45 billion.
3. Mars Family: $80 billion
The Mars family includes siblings, Jacqueline and John. Their brother, Forrest Jr. died in 2016. The family owns the world’s largest secretive candy companies they inherited in 1999 with the death of their father, Forrest Sr. Frank; their grandfather began the sale of the candy in Tacoma, Washington from his kitchen in 1911. Later their father joined Frank and helped to develop the malt-flavored nougat that comprises the middle of Milky Way and Snicker candy bars. The company went on to discover the candy, M & M, Mars candy bars and the Uncle Ben rice line.
The siblings, Jacqueline and John, play no role in the daily routine of the company. Jacqueline is a trustee of the U.S. Equestrian Team and also holds a seat on the National Sporting Library. Stephen Badger, Jacqueline’s son, does serve on the Mars Inc board of directors and Victoria Mars, daughter of the late Forrest Jr. is chairman of the board for Mars Inc. It is estimated the net worth of the Mars family is $80 billion.
2. Koch Family: $86 billion
The Koch family consists of William, Frederick, Charles, and David. William and Frederick tried to take-over the family fortune but failed. The result of this attempted takeover forced the company to cash out in 1983. After the takeover attempt, Charles and David had free reign to expand the business. Koch Industries is now America’s second largest private corporation. The brothers, William and Frederick, were jealous of their brother’s success and attempted to sue, but did not succeed.
The Koch family ranks among America’s top ten richest. The business was founded by their father, Fred Sr who started the family fortune by developing a new oil refinery in the 1920s. The Koch family net worth is estimated at $86 billion.
1. Walton Family: $149 billion
The Walton family is said to be the richest family in America. They gained their title and fortune with the takeover of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart. There are seven heirs in the family of Sam Walton and his brother James who control about half of the company’s stock. The company was started in Rogers, Arkansas and taken public in 1970. The board was shrunk in 2016 down to 12 members from the previous 15.
Jim Walton, Sam’s youngest child was replaced in the company by his son, Steuart as the first grandchild to join the board. Most of the family’s fortune is held by the three living children of Sam, Alice, Jim, and Rob. It is estimated the net worth of the Walton family is $149 billion.
Many of the rich man began their lives poor or came from middle-class incomes. Others have never known what it means not to have money as they inherited their wealth. They all have some traits in common in that their wealth has been built for the long haul and will more than likely be passed on to the next generation and increase even more. These are 10 of the richest families in America right now that have sustained generations of wealth and will more than likely continue to pass it along for generations to come.