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Ranked: The Top 25 Richest Families in America

The USA may not boast of having any wealthy royal families. However, it does have certain families who have managed to carve a niche for themselves – attaining both fortune and fame.

Some of these billionaire clans have amassed their fortunes over a long period, some even dating back to the late 1800s. Also, many of these families have made their billions in quite many ways including publishing, cosmetics, hotels, investments, and oil.

Here is a compilation of 25 of the wealthiest families in the US, ranked based on their net worth, with the lowest starting from $10 billion.

Rankings were determined based on most recent estimated values available from Forbes and Bloomberg.

  1. The Gallo family

  • Net worth: $10.7 billion
  • Source of wealth: E & J Gallo Winery

The Gallo family cannot attribute their fortune to a single income stream. Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo established the world’s largest winery and distributor in Modesto, California in 1933. Their other brother, Joseph, helped out with the family business till he left to form his dairy from where he sold cheese as Joseph Gallow Cheese.

His children currently manage Joseph Farms, while Ernest and Julio’s descendants are in charge of E&J Gallo Winery, with estimated annual revenue of $3.8 billion. Apart from the Gallo Family Vineyards brand, the company produces, markets, and distributes wine under more than 60 different labels.

  1. The Rockefeller family

  • Net worth: $11 billion
  • Source of wealth: Standard Oil

Credited to be the wealthiest American of all time, John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire following his establishment of Standard Oil Company in 1870, controlling 90% of all oil refining in the United States.

He has donated over $1 billion to many causes including public health, war relief, medical training, and other educational purposes. The family wealth is divided among 174 members.

  1. The Butt family

  • Net worth: $11 billion
  • Source of wealth: H.E. Butt

Florence Butt founded H-E-B grocery store in Texas in 1905, which was later expanded by her son Howard when he took over the helms of affairs of the company in the 1920s. His son, Charles, is currently the majority shareholder and chairman of H-E-B.

Charles has over 400 stores in Texas and Mexico and $25 billion in sales. Charles’ sister Margaret, and two nephews also have stakes in the company.

  1. The Mellon family

  • Net worth: $11.5 billion
  • Source of wealth: Mellon Bank

The Mellon family began to amass their fortune as early as the 1860s when the head of the family, Thomas Mellon started investing in coal and real estate. His investments paid off so much so that he was able to establish Mellon Bank.

The considerable fortune he left behind has been appropriately managed by his direct descendants and future generations, with investments in the oil industry (Gulf Oil – now Chevron), media industry, as well as the railroad industry.

Matthew T. Mellon was the face of the family before his untimely death in 2018, at the age of 54. It was reported that his $2 million investment in the cryptocurrency XRP, yielded close to $1 billion.

  1. The Marshall family

  • Net worth: $12 billion
  • Source of wealth: Investments

The Marshall family has varying interests in different sectors and companies. J. Howard Marshall II sold his shares in the Great Northern Oil Company to purchase a 16% stake in Koch Industries.

After which he passed on the stock to his son, E. Pierce Marshall, which then went to his wife and children when he died.

  1. The Brown family

  • Net worth: $12.3 billion
  • Source of wealth: Brown-Forman Corp.

The Brown family is the driving force behind many alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester. The company started as a pharmaceutical company founded by George Gavin Brown in 1870.

Now, more than half of the company, Brown-Forman Corp. is owned by 25 members of the Brown family.

  1. The Sackler family

  • Net worth: $13 billion
  • Source of wealth: Purdue Pharma

The Sackler brothers Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond purchased Purdue Pharma from physicians John Purdue Gray and George F. Bingham in 1952. The company witnessed a significant boom when it began selling OxyContin in 1995. By 2002, Purdue Pharma generated more than $1.6 billion as a result of sales of the painkiller.

The company has been involved in many lawsuits over misbranding OxyContin, and in one of such cases, the company paid about $600 million in settlement fees while three executives were found guilty of criminal charges. Purdue Pharma’s annual revenue is about $3 billion, and the company is still owned by the Sackler family which has about 20 members.

  1. The Busch family

  • Net worth: $13.4 billion
  • Source of wealth: Anheuser-Busch

The source of the Busch family fortune can be traced back to 1876 when Adolphus Busch created what is now popularly known as Budweiser. Successive generations have run the company.

However, an estimated 25% of the company was sold between 1989 and 2008 before the remaining was later purchased for $52 billion in 2008. The family fortune was split among 30 family members.

16 (TIE). The Goldman family

  • Net worth: $13.7 billion
  • Source of wealth: Solil Management

Majority of the Goldman family wealth comes from investments in real estate. The family owns more than 400 properties in New York City alone and a 17% stake in the World Trade Center developments. Sol Goldman founded Solil Management in the 1950s after which he commenced buying foreclosed properties at bargain prices.

Presently, his daughter Jane Goldman is the co-chairman of the company. She and her three siblings own about 25% of the company, with assets running into more than $12 billion. Jane’s cousin Lloyd Goldman is in charge of the family’s real estate firm, BLDG Management which controls over $2 billion in real estate.

16 (TIE). The Hunt family

  • Net worth: $13.7 billion
  • Source of wealth: Hunt Oil Company

Reputed to have the highest net worth of any individual in the world at the time of his death, Haroldson L. Hunt laid the foundation for his family’s fortune by establishing Hunt Oil Company.

His 15 children from three wives command different industries, from Hunt Oil and Petro-Hunt to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. They also have other interests in real estate and sports teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bulls.

  1. The du Pont family

  • Net worth: $14.3 billion
  • Source of wealth: DuPont

The du Pont family fortune is one of the oldest and most shared estates to make this list. Established over 217 years ago as a gunpowder manufacturing company, DuPont has since evolved into producing a diverse range of products from dynamites to plastics, as well as nylon and Teflon.

The DuPont fortune is shared by as much as 3,500 family members who take up a large chunk of the company shares. However, the company is not run by any family member.

  1. The Ziff family

  • Net worth: $14.4 billion
  • Source of wealth: Ziff Davis Inc.

In 1994, William Ziff Jr. sold the magazine publishing company his father established, Ziff Davis Inc., publishers of PC Magazine, for a sum of $1.4 billion. His three sons, Daniel, Robert, and Dirk, established Ziff Brothers Investments, a company which they use to grow their fortunes and are said to invest part of their money with hedge fund managers.

The brothers are philanthropists and own several houses in Aspen.

  1. The Dorrance family

  • Net worth: $17.1 billion
  • Source of wealth: Campbell’s Soup

John T. Dorrance invented the formula of Campbell’s Soup in 1897, and what started as a small business has since witnessed enormous expansion and growth. The company also owns brands such as V8 and Pepperidge Farm, with estimated annual revenue of over $8 billion.

About 11 members of the Dorrance family own more than 50% of Campbell’s Soup, and among the board members include two of Dorrance’s billionaire grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

  1. The Newhouse family

  • Net worth: $18.5 billion
  • Source of wealth: Advance Publications

The Newhouse family credits their fortune to their father Sam Newhouse who founded Advance Publications in 1922. Apart from owning Conde Nast – publisher of magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair – Advance Publications also owns dozens of newspapers in America and a controlling stake in Discovery Communications.

In 2016, Sam Newhouse Jr.’s sons sold cable TV company Bright House Networks for around $11.4 billion in cash and stock.

  1. The Lauder family

  • Net worth: $24.3 billion
  • Source of wealth: Estee Lauder

In 1947, Estee Lauder got her first significant order worth about $800 of cosmetics from Saks Fifth Avenue. Presently, the company, which has more than 30 different brands of makeup such as MAC and Clinique, boasts of a $12 billion annual revenue from the sale of cosmetics and fragrances.

Estee Lauder’s children Leonard and Ronald are active philanthropists as well as major art collectors. In 2013, Leonard donated some of his collections including painting and sculptures worth around $1 billion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  1. The Hearst family

  • Net worth: $24.5 billion
  • Source of wealth: Hearst Corporation

William Randolph Hearst laid the foundation of what would eventually become a multi-billion media company in the late 1800s when he took over the San Francisco Examiner. Not too long after, Hearst acquired other newspapers as well as radio and TV stations which are all now under Hearst Corporation media group. The group owns nearly 300 magazines and has stakes in cable TV channels amongst other acquisitions.

Hearst once owned one of the most expensive houses in America.

  1. The Duncan family

  • Net worth: $26 billion
  • Source of wealth: Enterprise Products Partners

Dan L. Duncan established gas and oil company Enterprise Products Partners in 1968 with only $10,000. Following his death in 2010, the company continued to be under family control, and his four children took over the $10 billion estates. The family fortune has doubled ever since.

  1. The SC Johnson family

  • Net worth: $28.2 billion
  • Source of wealth: SC Johnson

The Johnson family owns SC Johnson company, manufacturers of cleaning products like Pledge, Glade, and Mr. Muscle. The company has been in existence since 1886 by its namesake. Following his death, the company was taken over by his son Herbert Johnson who also passed away in 1928 without leaving a will behind.

Following a feud regarding how the sharing of the inheritance, the family fortune was eventually shared between his two children, Herbert Fisk Jr., and Henrietta Johnson Louis. Herbert Fisk Johnson III is the fifth-generation member to be in charge of the company doubling as Chairman and C.E.O., a post he has held since 2004.

  1. (Edward) Johnson family

  • Net worth: $28.5 billion
  • Source of wealth: Fidelity

Edward Johnson II founded the world’s second-largest mutual fund company, Fidelity Management, and Research, in 1946, which has since been managed by three generations of Johnsons.

His granddaughter Abigail is the current President and CEO of Fidelity Investments. The family has a 49% stake of the company, which is shared among four members.

  1. The Pritzker family

  • Net worth: $33.5 billion
  • Source of wealth: Hyatt Hotels

Abraham Pritzker and sons Jay, Donald, and Robert began the family’s fortune by establishing the Hyatt Hotel chain and investing in financially troubled companies and converting them into profit-making enterprises.

Presently, the family fortune is split among 13 family members,  11 are billionaires. It was reported that the Pritzker family spent much of the 2000s embroiled in legal battles among each other before eventually breaking up the family business and splitting the assets.

Some of the Pritzker family members have dabbled into politics at some point. Donald Pritzker’s daughter, Penny is the former US Secretary of Commerce, while her brother J.B., was the national co-chairman of Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008 and also the Democrats’ candidate in 2018 Illinois gubernatorial election.

  1. The Cox family

  • Net worth: $33.6 billion
  • Source of wealth: Cox Enterprises

Cox Enterprises spans many industries such as cable and broadband (Cox Communications), newspapers, television, and radio stations (Cox Media Group), and automotive. The company generates over $20 billion in revenue annually.

Founded in 1898 by James Cox, the family fortune is shared by his five grandchildren.

  1. The Cargill-MacMillan family

  • Net worth: $42.3 billion
  • Source of wealth: Cargill Inc.

William W. Cargill established agribusiness colossus Cargill Inc. in 1865. Presently, the company has 23 members of the Cargill-MacMillan family who own about 88% of the company, which generates more than $108 billion in annual revenues.

The family boasts of 14 billionaires. The clan dedicates 80% of Cargill Inc.’s net income to reinvestment annually.

  1. The Mars family

  • Net worth: $89.7 billion
  • Source of wealth: Mars Inc.

Jacqueline and John Mars inherited a considerable stake in the candy empire Mars Inc. – the company behind M&Ms, Milky Way, and Mars Bars when their father died in 1999. Jacquelyn’s son, Stephen Badger, is currently the chairman of Mars Inc., which rakes in revenue of over $35 billion annually.

The siblings head the Mars Foundation, which makes regular donations to educational, environmental, cultural, and health-related causes.

  1. The Koch family

  • Net worth: $98.7 billion
  • Source of wealth: Koch Industries

Following the death of their father Fred Koch in 1967, his two sons Charles and David expanded their father’s oil and refining company into conglomerate Koch Industries. The two other brothers, Frederick and William, had their stakes bought out after a failed takeover, leaving Charles and David as majority stakeholders.

Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in the US, with annual revenue of $115 billion. David Koch stepped down from his position as Executive VP of the company in 2018.

He has pledged to donate over $1.2 billion for cancer research, education, cultural institutions, and hospitals via the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation. It was reported that both brothers secretly funded some of the biggest summer movies in 2017, like Wonder Woman.

  1. The Walton family

  • Net worth: $151.5 billion
  • Source of wealth: Walmart

Walmart was established in 1962 by brothers, Sam and Bud Walton

Sam and Bud Walton created Walmart in 1962. Following its success, they founded Sam’s Club in 1983. In 2018, Walmart recorded sales of $495 billion, making it the largest publicly-owned retail company by revenue in the world.

The Walton family fortune is shared among seven family members, which include co-founder Sam Walton’s three children, Rob, Jim, and Alice, whose worth of $43.7 billion makes her the wealthiest woman in the world.


RJ Editorial

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