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The Richest Billionaires In America 2020 | The Countdown | Forbes



Pandemic be damned: America’s 400 richest are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago, aided by a stock market that has defied the virus. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, worth $179 billion, is number one for the third year in a row, followed by Bill Gates at number two. It still takes at least $2.1 billion, unchanged for the past three years, to make the cut. Even in these trying times mega-fortunes are still being minted. We welcome 18 new members to the ranks, who made their piles in everything from electric trucks to the now-ubiquitous Zoom. Plus there are 9 returnees — former 400 members who fell off the list and have made a comeback. Two from last year’s list died, and 25 dropped off as their fortunes fell; 10 of those setbacks were directly attributable to the Covid crisis. Forbes calculated net worths using stock prices from July 24, 2020.

When possible, we met with Forbes 400 members before the coronavirus pandemic and spoke with them virtually or by phone after. We also interviewed their employees, handlers, rivals, peers and attorneys. Uncovering their fortunes required us to pore over thousands of SEC documents, court records, probate records and news articles. We took into account all types of assets: stakes in public and private companies, real estate, art, yachts, planes, ranches, vineyards, jewelry, car collections and more. We factored in debt and charitable giving. While some billionaires provided documentation for their private assets and companies, others were less forthcoming. To value private businesses, we coupled revenue or profit estimates with prevailing price-to-sales, price-to-earnings, or similar ratios for similar public companies and applied a 10% discount, or more in cases where information is scarce.

We purposely excluded dispersed family fortunes, but we did include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate family if the wealth could be traced to a living founder of the fortune. In those cases you’ll see “& family.” We also included married couples who built fortunes and businesses together if their combined net worth was enough for each person to make the $2.1 billion cutoff. In those instances, we listed both names. Besides wealth, we also ranked each member based on their generosity and the degree to which their fortunes are self-made or inherited.

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