As the economy continues to flounder and unemployment rates grow, Americans continue to search for ways to advance. For many, the first thought is to open up a home-based business. Many people are worried about losing their jobs, the health care benefits they need and the peace of mind in their family’s financial situation. It’s not surprising that people want to know who has made it in America’s unforgiving economy and how to mirror their success.
For years, black people in America have had to manage the stigma of being associated with being poor, but the truth is that there are a lot of black people who are worth a lot of money. All of these individuals have built their own roads to success and wealth. All these billionaires are self-made meaning they worked hard for what they’ve earned themselves.
On this list you may see some familiar faces from the entertainment industry and other notables. These individuals have worked hard and earned their wealth.
1. Robert F. Smith
Net Worth: $6 billion
Business: Private Equity, Investments, Finance
Global Ranking: 451
More About Robert F Smith: Vista Equity Partners is a private equity firm based in Austin, Texas that invests in technology companies. Vista Equity Partners was founded by Robert F. Smith, a native of Columbia, South Carolina. He has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. From 1994 to 2000, he worked for Goldman Sachs in the Mergers & Acquisitions division. In 1986, he joined Kraft Foods Inc., where he registered two United States patents and two European patents. Smith has been recognized as one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, and he is a member of the Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2019, Smith made big news when he announced during the commencement speech at Morehouse College that he would pay off the student loans of graduates who had taken out loans to attend the historically black college—the total amount of which was more than $40 million. He made even bigger news when he expanded his gift to include parents with more than $30 million in student loans to pay off.
2. David Steward
Net worth: $3.7 billion
Global Ranking: 807
More About David Steward: David Steward founded World Wide Technology, a large technology service provider that has grown tremendously since it started in 1990 with only seven employees. In just a few years, David and his team had revenues of over 1 billion dollars. From there, WWT has only grown, reaching over $12 billion in revenue and becoming the largest private company owned by African Americans and being named one of America's top black-owned businesses by Black Enterprise magazine. With offices across the globe, WWT has become one of America's top suppliers of IT products and services. Today, WWT continues to grow and is one of the largest companies in Missouri.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Net worth: $2.7 billion
Business: media and entertainment
Global Ranking: 1,174
More About Oprah Winfrey: Talk show host, actress, producer, pitchwoman, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is the richest African American of the 20th and 21st centuries. At one time, she was the world's only African American billionaire.
She has a cable network, her acting career, her magazine, the shows she produces, and let's not forget her lucrative Weight Watchers endorsement deal. Oprah makes anywhere from $75 million to $300 million each year which has given her an amazing net worth of $2.7 billion.
4. Kanye West
Net Worth: $1.8 billion
Business: Music, Fashion, Retail
Global Ranking: 1,750
More About Kanye West: Rapper and sneaker mogul Kanye West just became the richest Black person in American history.
Just one year after Kanye West achieved billionaire status, he's gone through a divorce from Kim Kardashian and more than doubled his net worth. According to new valuations prepared by investment bank UBS, Kanye's partnership with Adidas is worth between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion. Kanye owns 100% of the Yeezy brand, so those valuations go straight to his bottom line. Furthermore, according to UBS, his new partnership with The Gap is worth $1 billion. However, these are all projections and are yet to be added to Kanye’s Net Worth. He may soon be the richest man on this list.
5. Michael Jordan
Net Worth: $1.6 billion
Business: Charlotte Hornets, Endorsement Deals
Global ranking: 1,931
About Michael Jordan: Over the course of his playing career, Michael Jordan earned $93 million. Today he brings home more than $100 million from his endorsement deal with Nike alone. Jordan's deal with Nike is worth up to $10 million per year, depending on how much Jordan cashed in on during the previous 12 months. In addition to his Nike payday, Jordan earned a reported $90 million from endorsements in 1995, which is equivalent to more than $150 million today after adjusting for inflation. Jordan's biggest asset by far is his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise. Jordan bought into the team in 2006 and took control of the franchise in 2010. With the value of NBA franchises skyrocketing since 2010, Jordan's stake has increased rapidly as well. He owns about 90% of the franchise, which was most recently valued at a minimum of $1.15 billion. Jordan's stake in the Hornets is now worth more than $1 billion alone.
Net Worth: $1.4 billion
Business: Media, entertainment
Global Ranking: 2,141
More About Jay Z: Hip-hop artist Shawn Carter, better known as Jay Z, is one of the most successful and wealthy living rappers today.
In addition to being a rapper, Jay Z was also a record producer and songwriter. He founded Roc-A-Fella Records along with a small group of friends in 1996 and released his first album Reasonable Doubt the same year. He went on to release 10 more albums which have sold millions of copies combined throughout the years. Aside from releasing music on Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay Z has also released music on Def Jam Recordings (which he’s now part owner of) and Roc Nation (which he owns). His most recent album 4:44 was released exclusively on Tidal (of which he owns as well)
7. Tyler Perry
Net Worth: $1.0 billion
Business: Movies & Entertainment
Global Ranking: 2,674
More About Tyler Perry: The talented entrepreneur, producer, writer and actor has become a billionaire by carefully crafting his brand and creating a successful entertainment empire for himself.
Perry started out as a playwright, writing plays such as I Know I’ve Been Changed and Madea Goes to Jail. He has also written and produced several successful TV shows, including Meet the Browns and House of Payne. In addition to producing his own shows, he has produced movies such as The Single Moms Club, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor, A Madea Christmas, Boo! A Madea Halloween, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, and several others. Tyler Perry's net worth is pegged at exactly a billion dollars, bringing him into the top 10 richest black men in America.