America’s 50 Richest Billionaires and When They Got That Way

“A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”

Well, at least that is what Napster founder Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) says to a young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in “The Social Network,” David Fincher’s 2010 movie about the birth of Facebook.

Of course, a million dollars sounds plenty cool to most of us. Just think what we could do with all that money…

But there are people who have no intention of stopping with a million or even a lot of millions. They want a billion, or maybe even a lot of billions, and through various means — hard work, off-the-charts imagination, sheer luck — a surprising number actually achieve that goal. 

As of this year, there are an estimated 756 billionaires in the United States, spread through 42 of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, according to World Population Review. California, home of Silicon Valley and much of the entertainment industry, has the most, with 186. The financial capital of New York comes next, with 135. (Apart from the eight states that are lacking them, here is a list of the city in every state with the most billionaires.)

To compile a list of America’s 50 richest (mostly) self-made billionaires, and how fast they earned their first  billion, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a report on the subject published by SuperCasinoSites, an information and review site devoted to casino gaming around the world. Billionaires are ordered by how fast they made their first billion. All data is from the SuperCasinoSites report.

Click here to see America’s 50 richest self-made billionaires and how fast they got there.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Some of the fabulously wealthy folk on this list are household names, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and, yes, the aforementioned Zuckerberg. Others you may not have heard of, unless you are a regular reader of Forbes or Fortune (Autry Stephens? David Duffield?). Likewise, some of their companies are world famous, including Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Nike, the Dallas Cowboys. But would you be surprised to learn that the folks who run Harbor Freight Tools, Flex-N-Gate, and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores are also on the list?

Inheritors aside, nobody becomes a billionaire overnight. But you might be surprised to learn how long it took some of the people named here to reach that status. For three of them, it took 40 years or more. The average is just over 21 years. Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, sailed right up to billionaire status in quick four years. (See who else, besides those two, counts as one of the 25 richest Americans of all time.)

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