Forbes says number of billionaires ‘exploded’ during pandemic, vast majority richer than a year ago


Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos speaks after receiving the 2019 International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Excellence in Industry Award during the the 70th International Astronautical Congress at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on October 22, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Forbes reports its annual list of the world’s billionaires “exploded” over the past year to an unprecedented 2,755 people thanks to surging stock markets and massive economic stimulus, even as the pandemic continues to shake the global economy.

Topping the list for the fourth consecutive year is Amazon head Jeff Bezos, who is worth an estimated $177 billion, while Elon Musk moved into the second position with $151 billion as Tesla and Amazon stocks rose.

Using a combined valuation of their stocks, real estate, art and more, Forbes estimates the world’s billionaires are worth a combined $13.1 trillion, and are a “staggering 86% are richer than a year ago.”

While hundreds fell off the list as the virus spread early last year, 2021’s list rose by 660 individuals compared to last year, Forbes said, with a record 493 being added to the list for the first time at a rate of “roughly one every 17 hours.”

Among the new additions are celebrities like Kim Kardashian West ($1B), who turned her reality TV stardom into mobile gaming, cosmetics and shapewear businesses. Kardashian West is joined on the list by her soon-to-be-ex-husband Kanye West ($1.8B) who runs his lucrative Yeezy brand among other businesses. Filmmaker Tyler Perry ($1B) also made the list for the first time.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss ($3B combined), who once sparred with Mark Zuckerberg ($97B) over the ownership of Facebook made it big after co-founding the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini in 2014.

This also includes at least 40 people who Forbes says became billionaires thanks to companies involved in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes mask, PPE and medical equipment manufacturers, as well as the heads of vaccine manufacturers BioNTech (Uğur Şahin, $4B) and Moderna (Stéphane Bancel, $4.3B),

While the most billionaires live in the U.S. (724), Forbes reports China including Hong Kong and Macao is right behind (698). Beijing is now the city with the most billionaires (100), barely beating out New York City (99), as well as Hong Kong (80) and Moscow (79).

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