Top 7 Richest Black Americans
1. Robert F. Smith – Businessman and Investor
Net Worth: $5.2 billion
Wealth Rankings in the World: 526
Robert F. Smith founded private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2000. It focuses exclusively on investing in software companies.
With over $50 billion in assets, Vista is one of the best-performing private equity firms, posting annualized returns of 22% since inception.
|Photo: The New York Times.|
In October 2020, Smith entered into an agreement with the DOJ and IRS, agreeing to pay $139 million for his role in a tax evasion scheme.
As a college student, Smith secured an internship at Bell Labs after calling the company every week for five months.
An engineer by training, he worked at Kraft Foods and Goodyear Tire before getting his MBA at Columbia University.
During a commencement speech, Smith vowed to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.
|Vista has grown into one of the most successful private equity firms, with more than $46 billion in assets, according to Forbes. |
In the years since its founding, the firm has generated bumper returns for investors and gradually increased assets under management.
Vista has posting annualized returns of 22% since its beginning, according to Forbes.
2. David Steward – Co-Founder of World Wide Technology
Net Worth: $3.7 billion
Wealth Rankings in the World: 792
Dave Steward is not your typical billionaire tech-company founder. His company is based in St. Louis, not San Jose. He brings his deep faith into the workplace. Earlier this year, he wrote Leadership by the Good Book, with a foreword by Bishop T.D. Jakes, about applying biblical principles to a business setting. He’s a salesman, not a technologist—he was once FedEx’s salesperson of the year.
And Steward, 69, is the rare Black chairman in an industry that has struggled with diversity, particularly at senior levels. His privately owned $12 billion company, World Wide Technology (WWT), is thriving in the current COVID-19 environment, helping a broad range of corporations select and install complex computer systems and other digital infrastructure. With more than 5,600 employees and offices around the globe, the company is the largest Black-owned business in America. Steward recently joined TIME for a video conversation on the impact of COVID on his business, why he has chosen to keep WWT private and how his father inspired his entrepreneurial zeal.
3. Oprah Winfrey – Host and Philanthropist
Net Worth: $2.7 billion
Wealth Rankings in the World: 1,138
For years, the battle of World’s Richest Black Woman has been the TV executive Oprah Winfrey who holds the crown with a net worth of $2.7 billion.
Oprah has landed in several Forbes lists over the years including Forbes 2019 Power Women list (#20), 2019’s America’s Self-Made Women list (#10), and 2010’s Powerful People (#64).
Oprah’s work in television attributes to much of her multi-billion dollar net worth. Her syndicated talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history, ran for 25 years. Now, as chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions and chairwoman, CEO and CCO of the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah is responsible for producing several television shows and movies.
4. Michael Jordan – NBA Hall of Famer
Net Worth: $1.6 billion
Wealth Rankings in the World: 1,802
Jordan made less than $100 million while a player in the NBA, but has been a member of three-comma club since 2014. Forbes estimates his net worth to be $1.6 billion. Since he retired in 2003, he has built a lucrative career, predominantly through deals with NIke.
He just announced a $2 million donation of earnings from his recent ESPN docuseries "The Last Dance" to food banks in the Carolinas and Chicago. Before that, he pledged a donation of $100 million to 'drive real impact for the Black Community' amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in June.
In addition to using his wealth for philanthropic purposes, he also indulges in personal enjoyment: He owns sprawling estates, his own golf course, an NBA team, multiple restaurants, and interest in DraftKings.
Michael Jordan just donated $2 million of his earnings from his docuseries "The Last Dance" to Feeding America's food banks in Chicago and the Carolinas. "In these challenging times and in a year of unimaginable difficulty due to COVID-19, it's more important than ever to pause and give thanks," he said in a statement.
DraftKings announced in September that Jordan took an equity stake in the sports betting company, along with a special adviser role. The company's shares surged 12% immediately following the announcement.
He's selling his compound in Chicago, which was originally listed for $29 million. The estate's gate is emblazoned with his jersey number.A gate with the number 23 controls access to the home of basketball legend Michael Jordan on October 21, 2013 in Highland Park, Illinois. Twenty-three is the number Jordan wore while playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls. The home which had been offered for sale for $29 million and later dropped to $21 million is scheduled to be sold at auction on November 22. The 32,683-squre-foot home features nine bedrooms, 19 bathrooms, a 15-car attached garage and an "NBA-quality" basketball court.
5. Kanye West - Entrepreneur and Musician
Net Worth: $1.3 billion
Wealth Ranking in the World: 1,750
Entrepreneur and musician Kanye West has a lucrative multi-year deal to design sneaker brand Yeezy for Adidas.
He gets an annual royalty from Adidas, which makes Yeezy shoes. The Yeezy brand pulled in an estimated $1.7 billion in sales in 2020.
In June 2020, retailer Gap and Kanye West announced they will start selling a line of West's Yeezy clothing designed for Gap.
Sales of the Yeezy Gap clothing are expected to begin in the second half of 2021.
In February 2020, Kim Kardashian West filed for a divorce from Kanye West; he still owns a small stake in her shapewear brand Skims.
6. Jay-Z - Rapper and Businessman
Net worth: $1 billion
Wealth Ranking in the World: 2,336
To calculate his net worth, we looked at the artist’s stakes in companies like Armand de Brignac champagne, applying our customary discount to private firms. (He owns 100% of Armand de Brignac and has partial ownership of the other companies.) Then added up his income, subtracting a healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle. We checked our numbers with a roster of outside experts to ensure these estimates were fair and conservative. Turns out, Jay-Z really is a business, man.
Jay-Z has used his music to shill the $300 gold bottles of the "Ace of Spades" champagne since launching the brand with the 2006 video “Show Me What You Got." More recently, his verse on Meek Mill’s “What’s Free" put a half-billion-dollar value on the wine, which seems like a bit too bubbly a number.
Cash & investments
A vast investing portfolio includes a stake in Uber worth an estimated $70 million. He reportedly purchased his piece for $2 million back in 2013—and then wired founder Travis Kalanick another $5 million in an attempt to increase his holdings, but was rebuffed.
This wide-ranging entertainment company started over a decade ago as part of a joint venture with concert giant Live Nation. Roc Nation represents some of the top stars in the entertainment through its sports agency (Kevin Durant, Todd Gurley) as well as its record label and artist-management arms (Rihanna, J. Cole).
Before the beginning of his stint as Def Jam’s chief in 2004, Jay-Z negotiated the eventual return of his master recordings from the aforementioned label that helped launch his career; in a separate deal with EMI, he clawed back his publishing rights. Wise move: his hits now clock close to 1 billion streams annually.
7. Tyler Perry - Producer and Actor
Net worth: $1 billion
Wealth Ranking in the World: 2,677
Production powerhouse Tyler Perry has landed on the Forbes billionaires list for the first time, with $1 billion. The prolific filmmaker behind the Madea franchise, The Have and the Have Nots and Netflix’s recently announced A Jazzman’s Blues is billionaire No. 2,677.
Other TV series from Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta include Sistas and The Oval. He’s working on All the Queen’s Men for BET+, the streaming service joint venture between Perry and ViacomCBS.
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