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  • Are America's Richest Born or Made? This Map Gives You the Answer

Are America's Richest Born or Made? This Map Gives You the Answer

The map below shows the top self-made and top inheritance wealths, and how they were made, giving each a “self-made score” between 1-10 which was created by Forbes to illustrate the degree to which each person can attribute their wealth to determination as compared to those who have earned their place purely by luck.

Top 3 self-made:

  • Bill Gates - The richest man in the world, a self-made tech mogul worth $78.8 billion, Gates earned his money by creating the computer interface Windows. With a self-made score of 8 (on a scale of 1 being the lowest, and 10 the highest), Gates started from a moderate middle-class background and created his fortune completely on his own.

  • Warren Buffett - Dubbed The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett earned his $70 billion through a series of sound investments which he funded through small business ventures such as door-to-door sales, and pinball games. Buffett also has a self-made score of 8, and the millions of people who follow his investing advice and philosophies often laud his grounded, down-to-earth approach to wealth management.

  • Larry Ellison - After creating the original Oracle database program for the CIA, he went-on to develop a variety of other computer programs through his new company which he called Oracle, earning him $52.8 billion. More than anyone else mentioned in this article, Ellison is deserving of the title of being a true rags-to-riches success. Ellison was an orphan whose foster parents lost everything in The Great Depression, and he more than made up for that with his drive to succeed.

Top 3 inherited:

  • David Koch - The most inherited wealth in the US ($42.7 billion) belongs to David Koch, whose grandfather owned a Kansas City newspaper company, the profits from which were used by Koch’s father who developed and patented an improved method of manufacturing petroleum. With a self-made score of 5, Koch inherited a pretty sizeable business from his father, who had inherited a big portion of his own wealth from his father. David has succeeded in growing the company quite significantly, which is more than the rest of the inheritance recipients in this article can say.

  • Christy Walton - The entire Walton family ranks among the richest inheritance recipients in the US. Christy (worth $39.1 billion) married into it by wedding John, son of Sam Walton, who later died. With a self-made score of 1, it’s clear she has done nothing to contribute to her wealth.

  • Jim Walton - Jim Walton is another son of Sam Walton, Sam being the man who founded Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club after opening a chain of Ben Franklin franchises during the post-war baby boom. He is worth $37.6 billion. Despite being blood-related to Sam Walton, unlike Christy, his self-made score still lies at a very low 2, which means he plays a small role managing the operations of the company but has contributed nothing to its success.

Regardless of how each of these individuals came into their fortune, whether through family or ingenuity, there was certainly more fortune to be had in the west. In fact, of those who are self-made, 8 out of 10 of the richest live in the west. Perhaps more surprising, although the east has a higher volume of inheritance recipients, inherited wealth value was also higher in the west, with 4 out of 5 of the richest people by inheritance living in the west.

  • Bill Gates - Not only the richest self-made person in the US, he is the richest person in the west, residing in Washington, where he was born.

  • Warren Buffett - The “Oracle of Omaha” also stayed close to home, in Nebraska, as his #2 spot as the richest self-made person is also the #2 spot in the west.

  • Larry Ellison - The only member of the self-made medal-holders to start in the east, Larry Ellison was born in New York, raised in Chicago, and moved to California at 22 to pursue the opportunities of the west.

  • David Koch - Born in Kansas, where is brother still resides, David Koch moved to Massachusetts in college, and then New York, where he still resides.

  • Jacqueline Mars - Currently lives in Virginia after moving from her home in New Jersey. Though she helps to perform some basic management duties, her success is owed entirely to her inheritance, as shown in her self-made score of 2.

  • Ann Cox Chambers - Moving away from her father’s home in Ohio, she currently resides in Georgia. She, too, has done nothing to contribute to her wealth, but has a small hand in managing the company’s activities.

Note that those top 3 in the west are all self-made, while the top 3 in the east are inherited. Also note that the top 3 spots in the west are the same people who have the top 3 spots among self-made people, the Walton family brings a great deal of inherited wealth to the west. Should you consider the Walton’s wealth collectively, though, then the #3 spot would go to Jacqueline Mars - if not for the Walton family and their tremendous inherited wealth, the top 3 inherited spots would be identical to the top 3 spots east of the Mississippi River.

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Sources: Richest in Each State

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