Each year, Forbes ranks the richest people in the world by net worth. The list includes men, women, self-made individuals, and those who accumulated their wealth from family members. Jeff Bezos of Amazon topped the list for 2020, followed by Microsoft's Bill Gates. Eight of the top 10 were from the United States—one of them a woman.
When it comes to the 10 richest women in the United States, the list contained several household names, as well as some women relatively unknown to the general public. The sources of their fortunes spanned a variety of industries, from retail to technology to candy. Here's a list of the top ten richest women in the United States in 2020, according to Forbes.
- Four Walton family members made the top 10 list of the richest women in the U.S.—Alice Walton, Christy Walton, Ann Walton Kroenke, and Nancy Walton Laurie.
- Julia Koch and her children inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries when her husband David died in 2019.
- Mackenzie Bezos earned her place on the list after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was finalized in 2019.
- Jacqueline Mars, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Blair Parry-Okeden ranked fourth, fifth, and ninth place on the list respectively.
- Abigail Johnson is the president and CEO of Fidelity Investments, which was founded by her grandfather Edward Johnson II in 1946.
- Net worth: $54.4 billion
- Rank overall: 9th
Born in 1949, Alice Walton takes the first place among the world's richest women as an heir to the Walmart (WMT) fortune—a title she has held consistently for a number of years. Walton was educated at Trinity University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in economics and finance. After graduation, she worked as an equity analyst and money manager for First Commerce Corporation. Since childhood, Alice was interested in art, playing a leading role in developing the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which opened in 2011. She is the sister-in-law of Christy Walton, the cousin of both Ann Walton Kroenke and Nancy Walton Laurie—all of whom are on this list.
- Net worth: $38.2 billion
- Rank overall: 18th
Iowa native Julia Koch inherited her wealth when her husband, David Koch, died in August 2019. He left her and their three children a 42% stake in Koch Industries. She lived in New York in the 1980s where she worked with fashion designer Adolfo as his assistant. She met David in 1991 and married him in 1996. The two have donated millions to medical research facilities including Stanford's Children's Hospital.
- Net worth: $36 billion
- Rank overall: 22nd
Mackenzie Bezos is a newcomer to the billionaire's club, following her highly-publicized divorce from ex-husband Jeff Bezos—founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Amazon (AMZN)—which was finalized in 2019. The two were married for 25 years. After their divorce, she received 25% of his stake in Amazon, which represented 4% of the company overall. A writer who studied at Princeton, Mackenzie Bezos worked at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, where she met Jeff in 1992. After their divorce, she signed the Giving Pledge, promising to give half of her to charity.
- Net worth: $24.7 billion
- Rank overall: 29th
Jacqueline Mars was born in 1939 and is the granddaughter Frank Mars and daughter of Forrest Mars, Sr., who founded what is now the world's largest candy company, Mars. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in anthropology. Mars owns the privately held company along with her two brothers and has a net worth of $24.7 billion. The three heirs serve on the company's board of directors but are not actively involved in managing the operations. Mars sits on the board of trustees of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation and supports a number of organizations including The Kennedy Center, the Washington National Opera, and the National Archives.
Laurene Powell Jobs
- Net worth: $16.4 billion
- Rank overall: 59th
Laurene Powell Jobs is the widow of Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple (AAPL). Early in her career, Powell Jobs worked at Goldman Sachs as a fixed-income trading strategist and earned an MBA from Stanford University. Powell Jobs founded the Emerson Collective, which supports individuals and organizations working in education, immigration reform, social justice, and conservation. Powell Jobs purchased a minority stake in the NHL's Washington Capitals in 2017.
Forbes' list includes 2,095 billionaires whose combined worth represents $8 trillion.
- Net worth: $10.8 billion
- Rank overall: 124th
Born in 1961, Abigail Johnson is the president and CEO of Fidelity Investments, a leading financial services company, a role she over from her father in 2014. The Boston-based company was founded by her grandfather Edward Johnson II in 1946 and remains privately held. Johnson owns almost 25% of the company which has $2.7 trillion in assets under management (AUM). After receiving an MBA from Harvard, she worked at Fidelity as an analyst and portfolio manager, working her way up to senior executive management. Johnson currently serves as a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation and is a member of the board of directors of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).
- Net worth: $8.9 billion
- Rank overall: 155th
Christy Walton is the second member of the Walton family to make the list. Born in 1955, she is the widow of John T. Walton, the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. After her husband died in an airplane crash in 2005, she inherited his fortune. The majority of her wealth is derived from holdings in the retail behemoth. A successful early investment by her late husband in the solar panel maker First Solar also boosted her wealth. Her philanthropic work includes serving on the board of directors of the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance towards the education of low-income children.
Ann Walton Kroenke
- Net worth: $7.9 billion
- Rank overall: 179th
Another member of the Walton family, Ann Walton Kroenke is the daughter of James Bud Walton, who co-founded Walmart with his brother, Sam. Born in 1948, she is a registered nurse. She is not actively involved in the company's operations. Kroenke is married to real estate billionaire, Stan Kroenke, who owns several sports teams, including the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Rams.
- Net worth: $7.6 billion
- Rank overall: 185th
Blair Parry-Okeden was born in 1952. She is the granddaughter of James M. Cox, the founder of Atlanta- based Cox Enterprises and the niece of Anne Cox Chambers. Parry-Okeden inherited a 25% share of Cox Enterprises from her mother but is not actively involved with the company's management. Cox Enterprises spans the media and communications and automotive industries. Parry-
Nancy Walton Laurie
- Net worth: $7.1 billion
- Rank overall: 206th
Nancy Walton Laurie is the fourth member of the Walton family on this top ten list. She is the daughter of Bud Walton and the younger sister of Ann Walton Kroenke. Walton Laurie inherited half her father's stake in Walmart when he died in 1995. She is married to former basketball player and coach, Bill Laurie. He also owned the St. Louis Blues. The couple has donated to various organizations including the University of Memphis and the University of Missouri. The two also own Providence Bank in Missouri.
The Bottom Line
In several respects, the 10 richest women in America are not a very diverse group. They are all white, they all inherited the bulk of their fortunes, and they are all over the age of 40. The majority do not currently take an active role in the management of the companies from which their wealth is derived, with the exception of Abigail Johnson.