Every year there is an epic race among billionaires to see who can make their way on the list (and to the top) of the richest people in the world. And, with over 1,600 people on Earth with a net worth hovering at $1 billion or more, the competition is obviously fairly steep. Who would’ve guessed it?
Yet when it comes to the richest people in the world, $1 billion is merely peanuts to these savvy businessmen, keen investors and courageous entrepreneurs. In fact, many of the world’s billionaires have made their fortunes as innovators in their industries in everything from computer programming, websites and search engines to fashion, beauty products and even beer. So, which billionaires are we talking about and are they anyone you recognize?
Traveling around the world from cities like Las Vegas, Nevada all the way to the hills of France and the bustling metropolis of Spain, we found 25 of the richest people in the world who have happily made the billionaire list. Who are they and how did they earn their fortune? Let’s find out as we start our list with one of the biggest names in Sin City!
25. Phil Knight
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Net worth: $25.7 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made; Nike
After a stint in the US Army, and with a Stanford MBA under his belt, Phil Knight convinced Tiger-brand shoemaker Onitsuka in the early 1960s to allow him to distribute Tiger shoes under the name Blue Ribbon Sports — the name Knight picked that predated his swoosh-logo-clad company Nike. Knight worked full-time as an accountant as he launched his new brand, and by 1968 he had built up enough of a rapport with customers that he was able to leave the CPA life behind.
Nike has built its success on celebrity and athlete endorsement deals, starting with running prodigy Steve Prefontaine in 1973 and continuing with one of the most successful shoe marketers of all time in Michael Jordan, whom Nike signed to a five-year endorsement deal in 1984 worth roughly $500,000 per year. The biggest NBA star today is still under the Nike roof, with LeBron James signing a lifetime contract with the brand in December for an undisclosed sum.
Though Knight announced plans in June to step down as chairman of Nike, he’s leaving the $30.6 billion (in sales) company in better shape than ever, with the stock and revenues at all-time highs.