Most billionaires are self-made, and many were born and raised in poverty. Instead of relying on trust funds and inheritances like many of the nouveau riche, the over-whelming majority of billionaires came from rags to riches.
Self-made billionaires are not alone. About 35% of the richest people listed on the Forbes 400 list were raised middle class or poor. A huge 70% of the billionaires on the list were self-made. It is just as easy as ever to go from rags to riches.
The man behind Starbucks, Howard Schultz grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn. His dad was a truck driver and had to dropout of high school due to the death of his father. The family moved out of his Grandmother’s apartment and into the projects when Howard was three. Schultz got his start on the road to riches selling coffee makers for a living and noticed that a small company in Seattle named Starbucks was buying a lot of coffee makers. The aspiring entrepreneur checked out the firm and was so impressed with it that he went to work there.
At last report, Schultz is worth $2 billion. The billionaire remembers that when he joined Starbucks in 1981, his mother tried to talk him out of the job switch because she thought nobody would buy coffee. Schultz’s present digs are a far cry from the Bayview Projects in Canarsie, Brooklyn. He and his wife now live in an $11.82-million mansion outside of Seattle.
Billionaire Shahid Khan is the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and the British Premiere League soccer club Fulham. He worked as a dishwasher at the University of Illinois for $1.20 an hour soon after immigrating to the U.S. from Pakistan. Khan founded Flex-N-Gate, an auto parts manufacturer that is now one of America’s largest privately owned companies worth $3.9 billion. If you’re wondering, Khan spent $300 million to buy Fulham and $770 million on the struggling Jaguars.
John Paul DeJoria is worth $4 billion as the co founder of both Paul Mitchell and Patron Tequilla. DeJoria sold newspapers and Christmas cards to support his family when he was a boy. His family was so poor that the billionaire was taken from his parents and placed in a foster home. DeJoria remembers that his family once had just 27 cents when he was a boy. These days he invests in a variety of interests – Not bad for a former street gang member.
The married couple behind Forever 21, Do Won Chang and Jin Sook had worked hard when they emigrated to the U.S. from Korea. At one time, Chang worked three jobs at the same time to make ends meet. Forever 21 now has 480 stores and makes around $3 billion a year. Chang and Sook are worth about $5 billion and live in Beverly Hills.
French tycoon and one of the most successful corporate raiders Francois Pinault owns Gucci and Yves St. Laurent. Pinault was born into a family of small time timber traders and left college at the age of 16 without a degree. The billionaire is worth $15 billion, with a personal art collection that includes Picassos and Mondrians. Pinault also made $2 billion from the increase in the value of the stock in his PPR conglomerate last year.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison now owns an island in Hawaii, but when he was a baby, Ellison’s family was so poor that his mother had to give him up for adoption. Ellison is now the third-richest man in America, and he’s worth $41 billion, according to Forbes. Ellison has spent $100 million on yacht racing alone.