Who are the wealthiest people in the world today? Finance bible Forbes has released its list of the world’s richest people for 2017 and there aren’t any big surprises. Collectively, the top 20 richest people on the planet are worth nearly a trillion dollars: if you placed all those dollar bills on top of one another, they would form a stack 68,000 miles high!
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20. Sheldon Adelson
The chairman and CEO of casino company Las Vegas Sands, 83-year-old Sheldon Adelson was 12 when he borrowed $200 from his uncle to start a newspaper-selling business in Boston. He is now worth $30.4 billion.
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19. Li Ka-shing
When he was a child, Li Ka-shing’s family fled China for Hong Kong, where he had to drop out of school and start working in a factory after his father’s death. Today, the 88-year-old chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings has business interests in everything from ports to beauty products and is worth $31.2 billion.
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18. Wang Jianlin
Wang Jianlin started his working life in the Chinese military and then worked his way up the ranks in civilian life until, in 1992, he became general manager for the Dalian Wanda Group. Today he chairs this property and entertainment conglomerate and with a fortune of $31.3 billion, he’s Asia’s richest person.
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17. Alice Walton
The youngest child and only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, Alice Walton has focused on art rather than the family business. She chairs the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and is worth $33.8 billion.
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16. Jim Walton
At 68, Jim Walton is the youngest of Walmart founder Sam Walton’s sons. He’s chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank, which is owned by the Walton family, and is worth $34 billion.
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15. S. Robson Walton
S. Robson Walton, usually called Rob, is the oldest of the Walton siblings who inherited their father Sam’s Walmart fortune. Rob chaired the retail chain until 2015 but still sits on its board. He’s worth $34.1 billion.
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14. Liliane Bettencourt
With $39.4 billion to her name, L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt is the richest woman in the world, the richest woman in history and the second richest person in France. At 94 she’s also the oldest among the top 20 richest people on the planet.
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13. Sergey Brin
Google co-founder Sergey Brin was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 6. He’s now 43, president of Alphabet – Google’s parent company – and with a net worth of $39.8 billion, he’s the richest immigrant in the United States.
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12. Larry Page
Larry Page met Sergey Brin at Stanford University and the two soon rented a garage and founded a little internet company called Google. Today 44-year-old Page serves as CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet and is worth $40.7 billion.
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11. Bernard Arnault
At 68, Bernard Arnault is chairman and CEO of luxury-goods giant LVMH and the richest person in France. Most of his $41.5 billion fortune comes from stocks in Christian Dior.
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10. Michael Bloomberg
When he was laid off without a severance package by investment bank Salomon Brothers in 1981, Michael Bloomberg used his equity as partner at the firm to set up his own business information company. Today the CEO of Bloomberg and former mayor of New York City is worth $47.5 billion.
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9. David Koch
Qualified as a chemical engineer, David Koch has been working in Koch Industries, the family business, since 1970. He is now the company’s executive vice president and is worth $48.3 billion.
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8. Charles Koch
With degrees in general engineering, nuclear engineering and chemical engineering, Charles Koch co-owns Koch Industries with his younger brother David after they bought out their siblings’ shares in 1983. He is the company’s CEO and is worth $48.3 billion.
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7. Larry Ellison
At 72, Oracle founder and former CEO is the oldest of the famous tech billionaires. He still acts as the company’s executive chair and chief technology officer and is worth $52.2 billion.
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6. Carlos Slim Helu
After qualifying as a civil engineer, Carlos Slim Helu worked as a stock trader and soon founded his own brokerage firm. He later diversified his business interests and now makes much of his $54.5 billion fortune from mobile phones and a 17% stake in the New York Times. He is the richest person in Mexico.
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5. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he co-founded Facebook, launching the social network from his dorm room at Harvard. He never completed his degree but at 32 and with a fortune of $56 billion, he’s the youngest of the 20 richest people on the planet.
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4. Amancio Ortega
In 1975, Amancio Ortega and his first wife Rosalia Mera opened a clothing store in A Coruna, Spain and called it Zara. Today the fashion empire Ortega ran until he retired in 2011 has made him worth $71.3 billion and the richest person in Europe.
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3. Jeff Bezos
Qualified in electrical engineering and computer science, Jeff Bezos worked on Wall Street and quit his well-paying job in 1994 to start a business selling books online. Amazon’s soaring stock price has since earned the company’s founder a fortune of $72.8 billion.
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2. Warren Buffett
Still acting as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway at the age of 86, Warren Buffett has been making shrewd investments since he first bought stock when he was 11. Having filed taxes for the first time when he was 13, he’s been paying his share for 73 years and is worth $475.6 billion.
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1. Bill Gates
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been the world’s richest person for 18 of the past 23 years, but has been selling so much of his stock in the software company that it now only accounts for 13% of his $86 billion fortune. These days he spends most of his time co-chairing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.