Forbes Reveals Record Number of New Billionaires in 2020

A new billionaire was minted roughly every 17 hours between March 2020 and 2021, according to the magazine.

A record number of billionaires were minted during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest annual roundup of ultra-wealthy statistics from Forbes.

The number of entrants on Forbes’ 35th annual list of world billionaires reached 2,755, up a record 660 from a year ago. These individuals are collectively worth $13.1 trillion, a staggering increase from the $8 trillion observed on the 2020 list. The top ten richest people on the list account for $1.2 trillion of this sum.

Of the new places on the list, 493 were complete newcomers, equating to roughly one new billionaire every 17 hours. 205 of these newcomers came from China, all but two of whom were self-made, reaching a record 626 billionaires in the nation.

The richest of all the newcomers is Miriam Adelson, who inherited the fortune of her husband Sheldon Adelson following the casino magnate’s death in January. Forbes estimates her net worth at $38.2 billion.

Other noteworthy new entrants include celebrities Kim Kardashian West and Tyler Perry, as well as Bumble dating app co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd – the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.

Also significant are the dozens of newly minted billionaires whose fortunes stem from industries boosted by (or combating) the COVID-19 pandemic. Stéphane Bancel, CEO of vaccine-maker Moderna, made the list with a fortune of $4.3 billion, as did Uğur Şahin, founder of Pfizer partner BioNTech, with $4 billion.

The most impressive COVID billionaire to make the list was Li Jianquan, president of Chinese firm Winner Medical, which manufactures masks and other disposable medical gear for frontline workers. Jianquan’s fortune is estimated at $6.8 billion.

Topping the list once again was Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with an astonishing net worth of $177 billion, retaining his title of world’s richest person despite competition from Tesla founder Elon Musk, who soared from 31st place in Forbes’ 34th annual list to second place in the 35th.

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