Forbes this week released its 2021 World’s Billionaires List. Those on the list saw their fortunes increase by more than $5 trillion.
VIRGINIA — The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, yet billionaires in Virginia and across the globe are significantly wealthier than they were a year ago, according to this year’s recently released Forbes World’s Billionaires List.
The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list jumped to an unprecedented 2,755 people, 660 more than a year ago. Altogether, they are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion in 2020.
Among those on the list, 86 percent are richer today than they were a year ago.
Jacqueline Mars, an heir to the candy fortune, is at the top of the list of the wealthiest Virginians, with a net worth of $31.3 billion. To put that in perspective, that would mean that Mars’ wealth alone would be roughly equivalent to the yearly salaries of 484,468 Virginians making the state’s average yearly income, which is $64,607.
With her net worth, Mars could buy whole Smithfield hams for 2.1 million families in Virginia to celebrate Easter next year.
The numbers will likely spark outrage, writes Forbes Chief Content Officer Randall Lane. “There’s no getting around a collective $5 trillion wealth surge during a pandemic, when most of the world felt scared, sick, besieged,” he wrote in a comprehensive essay titled “Operation Wealth Speed.”
However, “the underlying trends offer a road map to greater prosperity for all,” he continued. “Like anything else salvaged from a once-a-century plague, we just need to be brave enough to harness it.”
A total of nine billionaires on this year’s list hail from Virginia. With a net worth of $31.3 billion, Jacqueline Mars owns an estimated one-third of Mars, the world’s largest candymaker, founded by her grandfather. Mars, who lives in McLean, worked for the company for nearly 20 years and served on the board until 2016.
Other Virginia billionaires on the list include:
- Pamela Mars, Mars Inc., family fortune, $7.8 billion
- Matthew Calkins, Appian, $4.1 billion
- Daniel D’Aniello, Carlyle Group, $3.8 billion
- Winifred Johnson-Marquart, SC Johnson family fortune, $3.6 billion
- William Conway Jr., Carlyle Group, $3.4 billion
- Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy, $2.3 billion
- Steve Case, founder of AOL, and his investment company, Revolution, $1.5 billion
- George Pedersen, ManTech International, $1 billion
To compile this year’s list, Forbes used a snapshot of its real-time billionaires rankings by analyzing stock prices and exchange rates for March 5.
A record 493 people made their debut on this year’s list. Another 250 who’d fallen off in the past made a reappearance, according to Forbes. This year’s list includes a record 328 female billionaires, up from 241 in 2020.
Soon-to-be-former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos retained the top spot on this year’s list for the fourth consecutive year. Bezos, who founded the e-commerce giant out of his garage in Seattle, Washington, will step down as CEO at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk soared to the No. 2 spot, up from No. 31 on last year’s ranking. Bernard Arnault of LVMH remains at No. 3, followed by Bill Gates at No. 4. Rounding out this year’s top five is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.