America may not be home to wealthy royal families like Great Britain, but that doesn’t mean some families haven’t created their own empires. Those billionaires accumulated their fortunes in different ways from savvy investments to publishing and retail. Below, meet the richest families in the US.
Net worth: $10.7 billion
Family Business: E & J Gallo Winery
Prominent Member: Gina Gallo
The Gallo family fortune is derived from a few avenues. Brother Ernest and Julio Gallo founded the official E. & J. Gallo Winery, and their brother, Joseph opened his first dairy and sold cheese as “Joseph Gallow Cheese” while assisting with the family business. The Gallo family is now the largest wine producer in the country.
Net Worth: $12 billion
Family Business: Koch Industries – Investing
Prominent Member: J. Howard II
The Marshall family is a prime example of wealthy American family accumulating their fortune from oil. Howard Marshall founded the company. Later he traded his Great Northern Oil Company shares for an estimated 15% stake in Koch Industries, one of America’s most profitable investment companies. The family spent millions on lawyers for J. Howard II, who had a short-term marriage to Anna Nicole Smith.
Net worth: $11.5 billion
Family Business: Mellon Bank
Prominent Member: Matthew Mellon
The family fortune originated with Mellon Bank, founded in 1869. Their wealth later skyrocketed after they invested in Gulf Oil, now called Chevron-Texaco. Other investments include New York Shipbuilding, Carborundum Corporation, and The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a news publication.
Net Worth: $33.5 billion
Family Business: Hyatt Hotels – Hotel
Prominent Member: Penny Pritzker
The Pritzker family has been wealthy for decades by owning the Hyatt chain of hotels and other investments. They founded the Marmon Group, which was later sold to famed investment firm Berkshire Hathaway. The family also have major shares in TransUnion, McCall’s Magazine, Braniff Airlines, and Royal Caribbean, a cruise line.
Net Worth: $14.4 billion
Family Business: Ziff Davis, Inc. – Investing, Publishing
Prominent Member: Dirk Ziff
Ziff Publishing began in 1927 when William Ziff Sr. started a publishing business. His son, William Smith Jr., built it into Ziff Davi Inc., which published PC Magazine. William Ziff Jr. then sold the magazine publisher his father created for $1.4 billion in 1994. His sons, Daniel, Robert, and Dirk, grow their inheritance through Ziff Brothers Investments.
Net Worth: $22 billion
Family Business: H.E. Butt – Food
Prominent Member: Charles Butt
The Butt family owns the popular grocery store chain H.E.B. Grocery which was first founded in Texas in 1905 by Florence Butt. Her son Howard expanded throughout the country when he took over the family business in the 1920s. Now, his son, Charles, is the majority shareholder in the company, which now has approximately 400 stores and generates $25 billion in annual sales.
Net Worth: $18.5 billion
Family Business: Advance Publications – Publishing
Prominent Member: Donald Newhouse
The Newhouse family is one of the most powerful publishing families in America. The family fortune began when Sam Newhouse founded Advance Publications. Now, Advance Publications owns Condé Nast Publications and more than 25 newspapers in America, as well as Reddit and a stake in Discovery Communications.
Net Worth: $13.7 billion
Family Business: Hunt Oil Company – Oil
Prominent Member: Caroline Rose Hunt
H.L. Hunt laid the foundation for his family’s fortune with the Hunt Oil Company. The family is also known in television, as the Hunt patriarch, H.L. Hunt, was the inspiration for the character of J.R. Ewing on the hit series Dallas. His many heirs (14 children in total) command several fortunes, from Hunt Oil to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. The family fortune also extends to real estate, sports teams Kansas City Chiefs, and so on.
Net Worth: $28.5 billion
Family Business: Fidelity – Financial
Prominent Member: Abigail Johnson
Edward C. Johnson founded Fidelity Investments, one of the largest investment empires in the United States, in 1946. Now the company has been through the hands of three Johnson generations since. The current CEO and president is Abigail, Edward C. Johnson’s granddaughter, who made Fidelity into a massive international empire with 45,000 employees all around the world. As one of the world’s richest women, Abigail Johnson’ has a whopping $16.5 billion net worth, and currently, she is ranked by Forbes as the world’s fifth “most powerful woman.”
Net Worth: $89.7 billion
Family Business: Mars Inc. – Candy
Prominent Member: Jacqueline Mars
There is probably no more exciting way to accumulate fortune than with chocolate bars. The company changed the course of America with the Milky Way chocolate bar, and later Skittles, Snickers, Twix, Big Red gum and M&M’s candies. Jacqueline and John Mars inherited a stake in the candy empire Mars Inc, when their father passed away in 1999. Now the company also make other investment including pet care products, drinks, symbioscience, and life science.
Net Worth: $42.3 billion
Family Business: Cargill, Inc. – Agribusiness
Prominent Member: Martha MacMillan
William W. Cargill founded agribusiness empire Cargill Inc. in 1865, and it is now the largest privately-owned corporation in the United States. The Cargill-MacMillan family has at least 14 billionaires. 23 members of the family own 88% of the company, which generates $108 billion in annual revenue. Cargill produces grain and palm oil, trades in steel, transport and energy, and is involved in raising livestock as well as feed production.
Net Worth: $98.7 billion
Family Business: Koch Industries – Investment
Prominent Member: David Koch
Brothers Charles and David Koch owe their large fortune to an oil business started by their father. Later they expanded the firm into conglomerate Koch Industries, generating roughly $100 billion in revenue annually. David Koch, who stepped down from leadership in 2018, is devoted to charitable causes and has contributed more than $1.2 billion to cancer research, hospitals, education, and cultural institutions. The brothers also funded the movie Wonder Woman in 2017.
Net Worth: $151.5 billion
Family Business: Walmart, Inc. – Retail
Prominent Member: Jim Walton
Sam and Bud Walton founded Walmart in 1962, which now bringsin a whopping $482 billion in revenue each year, and has meant that the Walton family have dominated the Forbes’ rich list for nearly two decades. The Walton family fortune is dispersed among seven family members, including co-founder Sam Walton’s three children, Rob, Jim, and Alice, who is the richest woman in the world with a $43.7 billion fortune.
Net Worth: $33.6 billion
Family Business: Cox Enterprises – Media
Prominent Member: James Cox Kennedy
The Cox family fortune can be traced back to the year 1898. James M. Cox purchased a small, local publication called The Dayton Evening News and later turned it into a massive telecom giant that touched a number of industries: cable and broadband, newspapers and radio stations, and automotive. The company now generates about $20 billion in revenue. Recently, the family acquired DealerTrack, which makes software for car dealerships.
Net Worth: $24.5 billion
Family Business: Hearst Corporation – Publishing
Prominent Member: Patty Hearst
About 67 family members share in the giant fortune that William Randolph Hearst created when he took over the San Francisco Examiner at the age of 24. Hearst soon expanded it into a massive newspaper, radio, and TV empire. Hearst also was reportedly the inspiration for the character in Orson Welles’ classic Citizen Kane. Hearst used to own what is now one of the most expensive homes in the United States.