It's a rite of passage into adulthood: landing a job. Society says you're learning about the "real world" when you manage to chronicle your skills, search out people who could use these talents and allow them to run you through a pseudo-psychiatric evaluation. Humbling stuff, no doubt, but everybody knows that this hard work pays off - well, almost everybody. There are those out there who are richer than you or I can properly grasp, yet they've shucked the path of resumes, classifieds and interviews. Their secret? It's called family-based favoritism, and it's an established enemy of corporate efficiency - especially when the best candidate for a job isn't necessarily the CEO's next of kin. But don't tell that to these lucky kids and their wildly successful, incredibly generous parents. (For more, see 6 Millionaire Traits That You Can Adopt.)
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The Trump Family
Having landed his first job out of school at his father's established real estate organization, Donald Trump has no issue with keeping it in the family. "It", of course, being the billion-dollar Trump Organization, and his family being his three kids - Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric. All three children act as executive VPs within the business, and according to the Trump Organization's website, Eric has had a "pivotal role in more than 70 active real estate Trump projects around the world". It's safe to say they aren't likely to be the target of their father's trademark "you're fired" any time soon.
Sam Walton may not have had as many kids as TV's Waltons, but he could have found all of them seven-figure salaries in the Wal-Mart corporation. Sam's oldest son, Rob, is Wal-Mart Stores' current chairman of the board and, as of 2010, boasts a net worth of $19.7 billion. The youngest son, Jim, is chairman of Arvest bank. And the only daughter, Alice, founded Llama Company, an investment bank, before retiring to live as the second-richest woman in America, as of 2010 (behind her sister-inlaw, Christy Walton). You might save money shopping at Wal-Mart, but Sam's kids are the ones who are living the better life.
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When Stan Kroenke, husband of Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton, isn't watching over his THF Realty corporation, he enjoys watching sports - specifically, games played by the professional franchises he owns in five of the world's most popular sports. But in 2010 when Stan wanted to buy the NFL's St. Louis Rams, league officials required that he relinquish ownership of his NHL team, the Colorado Avalanche, and his NBA team, the Denver Nuggets. Not wanting to completely part with the teams, Stan opted to give control of the franchises to his 30-year old son, Josh. A former Missouri State basketball player, Josh assumes operational and financial control of both teams, and as an added bonus, Stan threw in the Pepsi Center. This modern arena is home to both teams, and with a lavish, two-story penthouse apartment atop the stadium, it's now Josh's home, too. (For more, check out America's Richest Sports Teams Owners.)
Henry Ford's automotive empire was always intended for his only son, Edsel. And in 1919, at only 26-years old, Edsel took his place as Ford's president. When Edsel died from stomach cancer in 1943, Henry took back the reigns of the company until Edsel's eldest son, Henry Ford II, was ready to take over the company. It seems the Fords didn't waste time on pondering a variety of options when naming their children or their company executives, as Henry II named his only son "Edsel" and later named him to Ford's board of directors. Another of the eldest Edsel's sons, William Clay, held a spot as president of Ford's short-lived Continental division, and his son (you guessed it) William Clay Jr. is currently Ford's executive chairman of the board of directors.
The Bottom Line
Billion dollar babies still earn their fortunes with hard work and sacrifice, so there's no reason to begrudge them. Remember, it's not what you know but who you know, and if you happen to know him as "dad", you'll beat out most of the working world. (For more, see Lavish Billionaire Spending Sprees.)
Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: G20 Leader Spats And China Fakes It.