Meet America's Black billionaires

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Kevin Winter // Getty Images

Meet America’s Black billionaires

They’re entertainers, media moguls, elite athletes, music artists, tech tycoons, and investors.

Stacker compiled a list of the 10 richest Black Americans using data from Forbes. Individuals were ranked by their overall wealth ranking, with the richest person taking the #1 spot.

America’s Black billionaires represent an array of industries and business ventures; however, over half of those on this list made the bulk of their wealth in the sports or entertainment industries. The people on this list are worth $27 billion combined, which is a lot of money—but that’s just one-eighth of the net worth of the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, at an estimated $218 billion.

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The United States is home to the most billionaires of any country represented on Forbes’ list of 2,640 billionaires in 2023. And yet, of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the world, only two are Black Americans. This wealth gap results from long-standing practices in the United States that denied Black Americans the ability to accumulate wealth while their labor often contributed to the wealth of white Americans. This dates back to slavery and continued with discriminatory practices in the housing and labor markets that have never been fully redressed.

Despite these barriers, America’s Black billionaires have risen to the top tiers of financial success.

Tyler Perry speaking onstage during 2022 InvestFest at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on August 07, 2022.

Paras Griffin // Getty Images

#10. Tyler Perry

– Net worth: $1 billion
– Global wealth rank: 2,593
– Age: 53
– Source of wealth: Movies, television

Tyler Perry is a director, actor, producer, and writer who built his empire from movies and television. He owns 100% of his content, including the popular “Madea” franchise. Perry lives in Atlanta, where his 330-acre, 12-stage Tyler Perry Studios is located.

LeBron James standing with his hands on his hips after a foul during the first quarter of the LA Laker's game against the Denver Nuggets in game four of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on May 22, 2023, in Los Angeles, California.

Harry How // Getty Images

#9. LeBron James

– Net worth: $1 billion
– Global wealth rank: 2,537
– Age: 38
– Source of wealth: Basketball

Considered one of the all-time greatest basketball players, LeBron James is the first active NBA player to make Forbes’ billionaire list. James started his NBA career at 18 years old with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he went on to play for the Miami Heat and his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Beyond basketball, James makes money through endorsement deals with Pepsi, Walmart, and Nike and has equity in Beats by Dre and Blaze Pizza.

Tiger Woods watching his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015.

Jamie Squire // Getty Images

#8. Tiger Woods

– Net worth: $1.1 billion
– Global wealth rank: 2,505
– Age: 47
– Source of wealth: Golf

Tiger Woods is considered one of the best golfers ever and is tied for first in PGA Tour wins. He is the second active athlete—after LeBron James—to make the Forbes billionaire list. Beyond golf, Woods makes money through his investments in real estate, a golf course design business, a high-end mini-golf chain, and TMRW Sports, a tech and sports venture he co-founded with plans to launch a new golf league.

Tope Awotona on center stage during day three of Collision 2022 at Enercare Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Stephen McCarthy // Getty Images

#7. Tope Awotona

– Net worth: $1.2 billion
– Global wealth rank: 2,303
– Age: 42
– Source of wealth: Software

Tope Awotona is the founder and CEO of Calendly, a software company that automates meeting scheduling. Born in Nigeria, Awotona and his family immigrated to Atlanta when he was a teenager. He has a background in sales for tech companies and founded Calendly in 2013.

 Alexander Karp attending the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 7, 2015.

Scott Olson / Staff // Getty Images

#6. Alexander Karp

– Net worth: $1.8 billion
– Global wealth rank: 1,700
– Age: 55
– Source of wealth: Software firm

Alexander Karp is co-founder and CEO of Palantir, a software company specializing in big data analytics driven by artificial intelligence. Palantir does contract work for the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the Danish National Police, which use the platform for defense and intelligence strategy. Karp is originally from New York and grew up in Philadelphia; Palantir is headquartered in Denver.

Michael Jordan, #23 of the Chicago Bulls, resting on the court during a game.

Mike Powell // Getty Images

#5. Michael Jordan

– Net worth: $2 billion
– Global wealth rank: 1,528
– Age: 60
– Source of wealth: Charlotte Hornets, endorsements

Michael Jordan is considered one of the all-time greatest basketball players alongside LeBron James. Jordan won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Today, his wealth comes from owning the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, co-owning a NASCAR team, investing in DraftKings, and endorsement deals with Nike, Hanes, and Gatorade.

Jay-Z attending 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Mazur // Getty Images

#4. Jay-Z

– Net worth: $2.5 billion
– Global wealth rank: 1,256
– Age: 53
– Source of wealth: Multiple

Jay-Z, whose name is Shawn Carter, is a multihyphenate and hip-hop’s first billionaire. He is a rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur married to singer Beyoncé. Jay-Z’s wealth comes from his fine art collection, music catalog, the Roc Nation entertainment company he founded, and various brand investments, including liquor, clothing lines, music streaming, a chain of sports bars, and more.

Oprah Winfrey speaking during Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) at Chase Center on February 22, 2020, in San Francisco, California.

Steve Jennings // Getty Images

#3. Oprah Winfrey

– Net worth: $2.5 billion
– Global wealth rank: 1,254
– Age: 69
– Source of wealth: TV shows

Oprah Winfrey was the first Black woman billionaire in the U.S. and is the only woman on this list. The foundation of her wealth is her nationally syndicated talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which aired for 25 years starting in 1986. Winfrey leveraged her talk show into a media empire that now includes the OWN cable channel and Harpo Productions. Winfrey, born in Mississippi and raised in Milwaukee and Nashville, also has made money as an actor and an investor in WeightWatchers.

David Steward addressing the crowd during a press conference hosted by World Wide Technology Raceway announcing the date of their NASCAR Cup Series Race for the 2022 season on September 15, 2021, at Bally Sports Live in Ballpark Village in St. Louis, Missouri.

Icon Sportswire / Contributor // Getty Images

#2. David Steward

– Net worth: $6 billion
– Global wealth rank: 431
– Age: 71
– Source of wealth: IT provider

David Steward is the founder of World Wide Technology, an IT provider that helps large companies with digital strategy and technology and supply chain solutions. Steward also co-founded Telcobuy, a spinoff of World Wide Technology that provides enterprise networking services and data security. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Missouri.

Robert Smith speaking onstage at RFK Human Rights' Ripple of Hope Awards Honoring VP Joe Biden, Howard Schultz, and Scott Minerd in New York City.

Kevin Mazur // Getty Images

#1. Robert F. Smith

– Net worth: $8 billion
– Global wealth rank: 266
– Age: 60
– Source of wealth: Private equity

The richest Black American is Robert F. Smith, who founded Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software companies. Smith grew up in Denver and worked as a chemical engineer before earning his MBA. He started Vista Equity Partners in 2000, and it has posted annual returns of 30% every year.

Data reporting by Elena Cox. Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Abigail Renaud.