DEFINITION of 'Billionaire'

A billionaire is an individual who has assets or a net worth of at least one billion currency units such as dollars, euros, or pounds - although billionaires found in other countries such as China or Russia are usually those that have an equivalent of $1 billion or more USD when converted from their own currency. Each year, Forbes magazine publishes a list of the world's billionaires. When Forbes produced the first list in 1987, there were 140 names on the list. Twenty-five years later, in 2012, the list had grown to 1,226, an all-time high. Twenty-four of the billionaires on the original 1987 list remained on the list for 2012. By 2018, Forbes listed a record 2,028 billionaires around the globe, from 72 countries.

BREAKING DOWN 'Billionaire'

A billionaire is a person with a net wealth of a billion dollars (or euros, or pounds) - which is $1,000,000,000, or a number followed by nine zeroes. This is one thousand times greater than a millionaire ($1,000,000), and billionaires make up a small and very elite club of powerful men and women in the world, who control enormous sums of money and its accompanying power and influence. A deca-billionaire has more than $10 billion and a centi-billionaire more than $100 billion in net wealth.

According to the 2012 Forbes report, there are billionaires from 58 countries, with the most coming from the United States, Russia and mainland China. As of 2012, some of the world's wealthiest billionaires included Carlos Slim Helu (net worth: $69 billion, source: telecommunications), Bill Gates ($61 billion, Microsoft), Warren Buffett ($44 billion, Berkshire Hathaway) and Bernard Arnault ($41 billion, LVMH).

In their 2018 list, billionaires are represented by 72 countries, and number 2,028 - a record high, and worth an aggregate total of more than $9.1 trillion. Americans again led the way with a record 585 billionaires, followed by mainland China with 373. Centi-billionaire Jeff Bezos secured the 2018 list’s top spot for the first time, becoming the only person to appear in the Forbes ranks with a 12-figure fortune. Bezos, the CEO & Founder of Amazon, saw his fortune grow more than $39 billion from 2017-2018, the list’s biggest one-year gain ever. He moved ahead of Bill Gates, who became number 2. It is the biggest gap between the number 1 and 2 spots since 2001. Bernard Arnault, with a fortune of $72 billion, reclaimed the title of richest European for the first time since 2012.

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