Visualized: The Richest Families in America

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When we think about the richest people in America, individual names often come to mind like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. But often, it’s the the richest families in America that hold a deeper legacy, and sometimes, even deeper pockets.

The country’s 50 richest families hold a collective wealth of $1.2 trillion. This ranking goes beyond nuclear family units and self-made fortunes, and it instead measures the wealth of multi-generational or extended families.

Our visualization, which leverages the latest data from Forbes, reveals the wealthiest families in America and the enterprises that helped them earn their billions.


Editor’s note on methodology: in this ranking, Forbes leaves out self-made entrepreneurs that appear with their nuclear families on the billionaires list. For example, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and Rupert Murdoch founded News Corp, but these successes did not come from family wealth that was passed down to them.

Family Matters

Say the name Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, and everyone knows who you’re talking about—but how do these household names hold up in the modern rankings?

Below are the 50 richest families in America, based on net worth:

Rank Family Net Worth Origin of Wealth 
#1 Walton Family $247.0B Walmart
#2 Koch Family $100.0B Koch Industries 
#3 Mars Family $94.0B Mars Inc. 
#4 Cargill-MacMillan Family $47.0B Cargill Inc. 
#5 Lauder Family $40.0B Estee Lauder 
#6 S.C. Johnson Family $37.0B SC Johnson
#7 Edward Johnson Family $36.0B Fidelity
#8 Cox Family $34.5B Cox Enterprises
#9 Pritzker Family $32.5B Hyatt Hotels
#10 Newhouse Family $30.0B Condé Nast
#11 Duncan Family $22.0B Enterprise Products Partners L.P. 
#12 Hearst Family $21.0B Hearst Corporation
#13 Brown Family $20.4B Brown–Forman
#14 Marshall Family $18.5B Koch Industries (6% stake)
#15 Butt Family $17.8B H-E-B
#16 Busch Family $17.6B Anheuser-Busch
#17 Du Pont Family $16.0B DuPont
#18 Hunt Family $15.5B Hunt Oil and Petro-Hunt
#19 Dorrance Family $15.0B Campbell Soup Co. 
#20 Ziff Family $15.0B Ziff-Davis
#21 Cathy Family $14.2B Chick-fil-A
#22 Stryker Family $14.0B Stryker
#23 Goldman Family $13.2B Real Estate
#24 Rollins Family $13.1B Orkin Pest control
#25 Gallo Family $12.4B E&J Gallo Winery
#26 Reyes Family $12.0B Reyes Holdings
#27 Kohler Family $11.7B Kohler Co.
#28 Mellon Family $11.5B Banking
#29 Smith Family $11.3B Illinois Tool Works, Northern Trust
#30 Bass Family $10.8B Oil 
#31 Sackler Family $10.8B Purdue Pharma
#32 Johnson Family $10.7B Johnson & Johnson
#33 Marriott Family $10.4B Marriott International 
#34 Crown Family $10.2B Investments
#35 Hughes Family $10.2B  Public Storage Inc.
#36 Pigott Family $10.1B Paccar
#37 Shoen Family $9.0B U-Haul
#38 Fisher Family $8.9B Gap Inc. 
#39 Jenkins Family $8.8B Publix Super Markets 
#40 Chao Family $8.6B Westlake Chemical Corp.
#41 (Charles & Rupert) Johnson Family $8.6B Franklin Resources Inc. 
#42 Phipps Family $8.6B Carnegie Steel, Bessemer Trust
#43 Rockefeller Family $8.4B Standard Oil
#44 E.W. Scripps Family $8.4B Scripps Network Interactive
#45 Bechtel Family $8.3B Bechtel
#46 Gore Family $8.2B Gore-Tex
#47 Durst Family $8.1B Real Estate
#48 Taylor Family $7.8B Enterprise Rent-A-Car
#49 Simplot Family $7.7B Simplot
#50 Barbey Family $7.3B VF Corp

The richest family in the U.S. is the Waltons, founders of Walmart. Their net worth adds to an approximate $247 billion, making them also the richest family in the world. Over the last year, they’ve grown their family fortune by $25 billion, equal to nearly $3 million per hour.

Interestingly, the Vanderbilts—the railroad tycoons that were once the richest family in the country in the late 19th century—have been ousted from the rankings entirely. Other notable American families, like Ford and Astor, have lost their place on the list as well.

On the other hand, the Rockefellers still hold their status today, ranked at number 43 with a net worth of $8.4 billion. John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire back in 1916, despite the breaking up of Standard Oil for antitrust reasons.

Building Wealth

Over the last five years, nearly every family on this list has seen wealth increase. Many of the behemoth companies on which these families built their fortunes are staples in America, like Campbell’s Soup, Cargill, Dixie Cups, Estee Lauder, and M&Ms and Snickers.

For example, the South’s beloved fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, was founded by the Cathy family and generated $12.67 billion in sales as of the latest annual data, making it the third most popular chain restaurant in the country.

Some of the newer families to make the list also owe it to the success of their enterprises:

  • The Kohler family: Kohler Co. (manufacturers of kitchenware, plumbing products, furniture, etc.)
  • The Taylor family: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (car rental services)

However, a few families have experienced significant losses since the last Forbes ranking. Here’s a look at some notable net worth decreases:

Family Company Change in Net Worth from 2015-2020
Hearst Hearst Corporation $-7.0B
Rockefeller Standard Oil $-2.6B
Sackler Purdu Pharma $-2.2B
Fisher Gap Inc. Negative growth (exact $ amount unknown)
Johnson (Charles and Rupert) Mutual Funds Negative growth (exact $ amount unknown)

Purdue Pharma recently filed for bankruptcy. The Sackler family’s plan is to reformulate the company into a new venture whose profits would go towards the opioid crisis, for which they are largely blamed. It would also cost the family around $4.3 billion directly.

Keeping it in the Family

While some families may have experienced decreases in their wealth, for many this is just a small bump in the road.

Overall, the richest families in America are the keepers of immense wealth that has accumulated over generations. For some, their names are now cultural landmarks across the U.S. and their brands have become synonymous with life in America.

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