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Who is the richest person in the world?

In March 2021, Forbes released its annual billionaires list, which ranks the richest people on Earth by net worth. This year’s biggest change: Elon Musk’s giant leap — from the outside looking in, to the top, looking down.

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Here are the 20 richest people on the planet, as of spring 2021, as well as a look at who’s been bounced from the 2020 list.

BOUNCED: Julia Koch & family (U.S.)

Richest people Julia Koch

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images


Julia Koch, a former assistant to fashion designer Adolfo, is the widow of David Koch, whose family conglomerate is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.

She falls outside of the top 20 richest people in the world for 2021, with a net worth of $46.4 billion.

BOUNCED: Charles Koch (U.S.)

Charles Koch

Patrick T. Fallon/The Washington Post via Getty Images


Charles Koch is a billionaire philanthropist and CEO of Koch Industries. He ranked at No. 18 on the 2020 Forbes billionaires list but fell out of the top 20 in 2021.

His net worth is $46.4 billion.

BOUNCED: Jack Ma (China)

Jack Ma

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Jack Ma is the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group. In 2020, he was the world’s 17th richest person. 

This year, he ranks outside of the top 20, despite adding $9.6 billion to his net worth. Ma has $48.4 billion, according to Forbes. 

20. Michael Bloomberg (U.S.)

Michael Bloomberg

AP


Co-founder, Bloomberg L.P. 

Age: 79
Net worth: $59 billion

Big spender

Michael Bloomberg richest

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images


In 2020, the former New York mayor poured roughly $1 billion into a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, including $275 million on anti-Trump advertising. 

He dropped out of the race in March 2020, endorsing frontrunner Joe Biden and transferring his remaining campaign cash to the Democratic Party. 

19. Rob Walton (U.S.)

Rob Walton

Sarah Bentham/AP


Chairman, Walmart

Age: 76
Net worth: $59.5 billion

Scion of Walmart

Rob Walton

Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images


Rob Walton is the oldest son of Sam, the founder of Walmart.

Walton and his wife, Melani, are major donors in a proposed project to build the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, North Dakota.

18. Jim Walton (U.S.)

Jim Walton

Charles Sykes/AP


Walmart heir; chairman and CEO, Arvest Bank Group, Inc.

Age: 72
Net worth: $60.2 billion

Giving away a billion

billionaire richest walton

Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images


Jim Walton is the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Seen here with siblings Rob (left) and Alice, Jim Walton gave away $1.2 billion worth of his Walmart stock in 2019. He reportedly gave it to several charities, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

17. Alice Walton (U.S.)

Alice Walton

Danny Johnston/AP


Walmart heir

Age: 71
Net worth: $61.8 billion

A medical school for the 21st century

American Federation of Arts 2017 Gala and Cultural Leadership Awards

Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images


In spring of 2021, Alice Walton announced a plan to build a state-of-the-art medical school in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The project, called the Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences, is scheduled to break ground in 2022.

16. Carlos Slim Helu & family (Mexico)

Carlos Slim Helu

Salvatore Di Nolfi/AP


Honorary chairman, América Móvil

Age: 81
Net worth: $62.8 billion

Keeping trains running

Carlos Slim Helu

Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images


Slim Helu’s latest investment involves not telecommunication, but transportation. 

He and Mexico’s government are collaborating on a railroad line in the country’s southeastern region. Slim is the richest man in Mexico.

15. Ma Huateng (China)

Richest people Pony Ma

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images


Chairman of Tencent Holdings

Age: 49
Net worth: $65.8 billion

So many users, so many dollars

Tencent Holding Ltd. CEO Ma Huateng Attends Annual Earnings Conference

Justin Chin/Bloomberg/Getty Images


Ma Huateng might not be a household name in the United States, but you’ve definitely heard of the app his company created. 

Tencent’s social messaging platform, WeChat, has more than 1 billion users.

14. Steve Ballmer (U.S.)

Steve Ballmer

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images


Former CEO of Microsoft; current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers

Age: 65
Net worth: $68.7 billion

Rooting for the Clippers

Steve Ballmer

Getty Images


Once known as Microsoft’s 30th employee, Ballmer ran the company from 2000 to 2014. 

He now spends most of his time minding his Los Angeles basketball team.

13. Zhong Shanshan (China)

CHINA-BUSINESS-WEALTH-ASIA

STR/CNS/AFP/Getty Images


Founder and chairman of Nongfu Spring bottled water and beverage company

Age: 65
Net worth: $68.7 billion

A big paycheck

Nongfu Spring Chairman Zhong Shanshan

Jiang Xin/VCG/Getty Images


In September 2020, Nongfu’s initial public offering more than doubled Zhong’s wealth.

He is the richest person in China, according to Forbes.

12. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers & family (France)

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images


Chairwoman of family’s L’Oréal holdings and granddaughter of L’Oréal’s founder

Age: 67
Net worth: $73.6 billion

One of the world’s richest women

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images


One of the richest women in the world — and the richest on this list — Bettencourt Meyers, together with her family, owns 33% of the cosmetics company L’Oreal. 

In 2019, the juggernaut logged its best sales growth in more than a decade.

11. Amancio Ortega (Spain)

Amancio Ortega

Xurxo Lobato/Getty


Co-founder, Zara

Age: 85
Net worth: $77 billion

Humble beginnings

Amancio Ortega

Miguel Riopa/Getty Images


Ortega learned to sew shirts by hand before launching his own fast-fashion business with first wife Rosalía Mera.

Despite a disappointing fourth quarter of 2020 — generally, people spent less during the COVID-19 lockdowns — Ortega was still able to add nearly $22 billion to his net worth since last year.

10. Mukesh Ambani (India)

Reliance Industries billionaire

Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images


Chairman of Reliance Industries

Age: 63
Net worth: $84.5 billion

Rapid expansion

Entertainment India 2010

Getty Images


Ambani’s late father, Dhirubhai Ambani, founded Reliance as a small textiles company in 1966.

By the 1990s, the company had diversified its portfolio to include petrochemical and telecom businesses in addition to textile manufacturing.

9. Sergey Brin (U.S.)

Sergey Brin

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images


Controlling shareholder, Alphabet Inc.

Age: 47
Net worth: $89 billion

Stepping down

Sergey Brin

Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images


Alphabet is the parent company of Google. Brin and fellow billionaire Larry Page co-founded Google in 1998, while the two were Ph.D. students at Stanford.

In 2019, Brin retired as president of Alphabet, but he remains a board member and employee.

8. Larry Page (U.S.)

Larry Page

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images


Controlling shareholder, Alphabet Inc.

Age: 48
Net worth: $91.5 billion

No more “daily nagging”

Larry Page

Steve Jennings


Like his co-founder, Page also stepped down as a day-to-day Alphabet executive — in his case, CEO — in 2019. 

In explaining their decision, the pair wrote a joint letter saying, “Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost … we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents – offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!”

7. Larry Ellison (U.S.)

Larry Ellison

Kimimasa Mayama/AP


Co-founder, Oracle

Age: 76
Net worth: $93 billion

Supporting Trump

Larry Ellison Donald Trump billionaire

Getty Images


In February 2020, Ellison’s Porcupine Creek estate, near Palm Springs, California, hosted a fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. 

Reportedly, for $100,000, guests could buy a photo op and an invitation to a golf outing with the then-president. For a quarter of a million dollars, they could also attend a round-table discussion.

6. Warren Buffett (U.S.)

Warren Buffett

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

Age: 90
Net worth: $96 billion

Funding renewable energy

Warren Buffett

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images


In May 2020, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary landed permission to build one of the biggest solar energy installations on Earth. 

When it’s completed, the $1 billion Gemini Solar Project, near Las Vegas, will be the world’s eighth-largest solar-power complex.

5. Mark Zuckerberg (U.S.)

Mark Zuckerberg

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Co-founder and CEO, Facebook

Age: 37
Net worth: $97 billion

An increasingly private island

Mark Zuckerberg Priscilla Chan

Ian Tuttle/Getty Images


In March 2021, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, reportedly bought 600 acres on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Combined with their existing 700-acre property on the island, the pair now owns more than 2 square miles of land, or 2.5% of Kauai’s land mass.

4. Bill Gates (U.S.)

Bill Gates

Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images


Co-founder, Microsoft

Age: 65
Net worth: $124 billion

A high-profile divorce

CBS This Morning

Michele Crowe/CBS/Getty Images


In May 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were divorcing, after 27 years of marriage.

Depending on the details of the divorce settlement, Melinda Gates may soon rise to the ranks of the richest people in the world.

3. Bernard Arnault & family (France)

Bernard Arnault

Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images


Chairman and CEO, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

Age: 72
Net worth: $150 billion

Going all-in on LVMH

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault Presents Earnings

Christophe Morin/Bloomberg/Getty Images


Already a controlling shareholder in the French luxury goods company that owns Louis Vuitton, Arnault recently spent $538 million to further invest in the burgeoning LVMH stock.

The company’s share value increased steadily since March 2020.

2. Elon Musk (U.S.)

Tesla boss visits factory construction site in Grünheide

Christophe Gateau/Picture Alliance/Getty Images


CEO of Tesla and SpaceX

Age: 49
Net worth: $151 billion

A lucrative pandemic

GERMANY-MEDIA-TESLA-AWARD

Britta Pedersen/Pool/AFP/Getty Images


Musk’s wealth has skyrocketed by more than 500% since January 2020.

One of his biggest moneymakers: Tesla. The car manufacturer’s stock prices shot up from around $88 a share in January 2020 to a whopping $880 in January 2021.

1. Jeff Bezos (U.S.)

Jeff Bezos

Tommaso Boddi/AFP/Getty Images


CEO, Amazon

Age: 57
Net worth: $177 billion

Divorce creates new billionaire

MacKenzie Bezos billionaire richest

Jorg Carstensen


Bezos divorced wife MacKenzie in 2019. As part of their split settlement, Bezos ceded one-quarter of his Amazon stake, 4% of the whole company. 

The exchange landed MacKenzie Scott, 50, on the Forbes billionaires list, at No. 22. Her net worth now sits at $53 billion.

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