The number of billionaires worldwide grew in 2021 despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic clobbering economies and sending millions into hunger and despair.
Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List grew to a record 2,755 people in 2021, and adding $5 trillion in worth despite Covid-19 pandemic.
The business magazine released its 35th annual list on Tuesday, which saw an increase of 660 of people, including 493 newcomers. Collectively, the 2,755 people on the list represent $13.1 trillion in wealth, up from $8 trillion in 2020.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos maintained his hold at the top of the list for the fourth year in a row. He’s worth $177 billion, up from $113 billion in 2020.
Tesla and Space X founder and CEO Elon Musk shot to the No. 2 spot in 2021, up from No. 31 in 2020, increasing his net worth more than six-fold to $151 billion. He briefly held the position as world’s richest person in January after Tesla shares skyrocketed by nearly 750 percent in 2020.
Rounding out the Top 10 were French entrepreneur Bernard Arnault and his family ($150 billion); Microsoft CEO Bill Gates($124 billion); Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($97 billion); Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Bufett ($96 billion); Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison ($93 billion); Alphabet board member Larry Paige ($91.5 billion; Alphabet board member Sergey Brin ($89 billion); and Reliance Industries board Chairman Mukesh Ambani ($84.5 billion).
The Top 10 richest people in the world have a combined worth of $1.15 trillion, up two-thirds from 2020.
Among women, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, L’Oreal board member, topped the list with $77.8 billion.
The United States has the world’s most billionaires, 724, compared to 698 in China, 140 in India, 136 in Germany and 117 in Russia.
This year also represented the highest percentage of self-made billionaires – 72 percent, up from 70 percent in 2020 and 49 percent in 2001.
The youngest billionaire is 18-year-old Kevin David Lehmann of Germany and the oldest is 99-year-old American insurance tycoon George Joseph.
Sixty-one people on the 2020 list dropped off, including TV personality and entrepreneur Kylie Kenner, while her sister, Kim Kardashian West, also a TV personality and businesswoman, joined the list for the first time.