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Steven Spielberg Should Host The Apprentice, & Other Insights From The Forbes 400

Submitted by on October 1, 2011 – 3:24 pmOne Comment

Forbes Magazine released its annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. It contains some expected things (Bill Gates is #1 for the 18th year in a row with $59 billion…yawn) and some surprising newcomers. (Five people get to be multi-billionaires from Facebook? Five? Even Google only has four on the list.)

Even with current economic troubles, America’s wealthy have had a good year. The worth of the top 400 did even better than the improving markets, climbing 12% to $1.53 trillion. A record-setting 70% of the list have self-made fortunes (though 18 families still rank).

Ironically, the same week saw the release of new statistics showing poverty rates in the U.S. at their highest in almost twenty years, and a widening gap between the top and bottom income brackets.

While Forbes is heavy on financial and social analysis, I noticed some other interesting “trends” in the data.

Coolest Source of Wealth: The list gives a brief “source” for each billionaire, describing how they made their fortune. “Investments” and “real estate” pop up all over, but only one man got the simple description “Star Wars” (George Lucas, #107). Honorable mention also goes to “Candy” (Mars family, #20), and “Ultimate Fighting Championship” (Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, #355 and 359).

Best Potential Feud: Steven Spielberg (#117) is several spots ahead of Donald Trump (#128). Maybe the Oscar-winning director should be dishing out business advice to Nene Leakes and running for president instead?

Hardest Day Job: Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City. He’s the 12th richest person in America? Maybe those public employee unions really are too powerful…

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