In 2009, Forbes Magazine released a list of the richest African-Americans. While the magazine itself has not yet updated the list, this ranking is based on the latest net worth of the most prominent African-Americans in the world. It now includes prominent music artists like Dr. Dre and Diddy, while Jay-Z jumped all the way from near the bottom of the top 20 to the top half of the list. Known investors Alphonse Fletcher and Tracy Maitland drop out from the old Forbes list, as does real estate tycoon Herman J. Russell and boxing promoter Don King.
Here is a list of the top 20 richest African Americans in the world.
20. Will Smith – $200 million
Will Smith is an actor who started out under the name of The Fresh Prince with his own show called “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Newsweek once called him the most powerful actor in Hollywood. Of the 19 films he has done, 14 have grossed over $100 million, including four that topped the half a billion mark.
19. Kobe Bryant – $200 million
Kobe Bryant is a basketball player who went straight from high school to the NBA. He has won five NBA rings and is considered one of the best clutch players of all time. He also owns one of the richest current contracts in the NBA.
18. Ulysses Bridgeman – $240 million
Ulysses Bridgeman used to be a basketball player who gained prominence after being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975, only to be immediately traded as part of a package to the Milwaukee Bucks for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He holds the record for most number of games by a player of the Bucks. He is now the President of Bridgeman Foods LLC, a company which owns over 160 franchises of Wendy’s.
17. Janice Bryant Howroyd – $250 million
Janice Bryant Howroyd started out as a mere assistant in Billboard Magazine. In 1978, armed with just $1,500 in savings and loans, she established Act-1, an employment services agency that provided staffing requirements to other companies. She slowly but surely built up the company through cold calls and word of mouth to a multi-million dollar firm.
16. Shaquille O’ Neal – $250 million
Shaquille O’ Neal was one of the most dominant players in basketball during his time. He won four NBA titles, three with the Los Angeles Lakers in partnership with Kobe Bryant and a fourth with Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade. He also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.
15. Andre Young – $260 million
Andre Young is more popularly known as Dr. Dre. The rapper is the CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Aside from hit albums of his own, he has also overseen the careers of other artists such as Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent.
14. Beyoncé Knowles – $300 million
Beyoncé Knowles is the wife of Shawn Carter, who is at number seven in this list, making them one of the richest celebrity couples in the world. She is known as one of the best selling artists in the world. Her old group called Destiny’s Child is considered one of the most popular girl groups in history, while her solo career has proven to be even more successful.
13. Quintin Primo III – $300 million
Quintin Primo III made his money through Capri Capital, a company that extended loans to borrowers that were too small for large financial firms to serve. He has since diversified and has even gone international with ventures in Saudi Arabia.
12. Berry Gordy, Jr. – $325 million
Berry Gordy, Jr. started out with $800 in loans to establish Motown Records, a label that produced such legendary acts like The Supremes, Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. He also owned Jobete Music Corp. He later sold the two companies for $361 million.
11. R. Donahue Peebles – $350 million
R. Donahue Peebles dropped out of Rutgers University to become a real estate agent. He established Peebles Corporation, a property giant that owns hotels, apartments and office spaces in Florida and Washington, DC. He also owns prime property in California and Nevada.
10. Bill Cosby – $350 million
Bill Cosby is a television comedian who brought an upper middle class African American family into the national mainstream through the series called “The Cosby Show.” The show earned him top dollars in both salary and syndication.
9. Tyler Perry – $400 million
Tyler Perry is one of the highest paid entertainers. He is known for his stage play films and onsite movies. His claim to fame is the role of Madea, a role he performs in drag. Madea is an overactive elderly woman who is thuggish and tough.
8. Sheila Johnson – $400 million
Sheila Johnson co-founded Black Entertainment Television with her ex-husband Robert Johnson. The two sold it to Viacom for $3 billion. She is now the CEO of Salamander LLC and the President of the Washington Mystics in the WNBA. She also has stakes in the Washington Wizards of the NBA and the Washington Capitals of the NHL.
7. Shawn Carter – $460 million
Shawn Carter is better known as Jay-Z. He is considered one of the best rappers of all time, with a couple of albums considered as two of the greatest of all time. He also owns an extremely successful clothing line and restaurant bar chain.
6. Earvin Johnson, Jr. – $500 million
Earvin Johnson, Jr., also known as Magic Johnson, lit up the basketball world in the 80s. He won five NBA rings. He now has partnerships with Starbucks, 24-Hour Fitness, T.G.I.Fridays and AMC Theatres. He is also involved in real estate.
5. Tiger Woods – $500 million
Tiger Woods is one of the most dominant players in golf. He has won 14 major championships. After getting involved in an infidelity scandal, Woods lost some of his appeal as some sponsors left him. He has since replaced those that had left, though he is still on the prowl to get back his old form.
4. Robert Johnson – $550 million
Robert Johnson founded Black Entertainment Television with his wife Sheila Johnson. He also established RLJ Companies, which has investments in hotels, casinos, banks and the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA.
3. Sean Combs – $550 million
2. Michael Jordan – $650 million
Michael Jordan captured six NBA crowns during his prime. His popularity is such that he still earns royalties from his shoe line with Nike. He also partly owns the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA.
1. Oprah Winfrey – $2.8 billion
Oprah Winfrey is known as the Queen of Talk. After a successful run with ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,” she now has her own network called OWN, a specialty channel produced by her very own Harpo Productions in cooperation with Discovery Communications. The channel is the replacement for the Discovery Health Channel.
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