DEFINITION of Christy Walton

Christy Walton is one of the world’s wealthiest people and also one of the top philanthropists across the globe. She inherited her wealth from her husband John Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, who died in a 2005 plane crash while flying an experimental plane near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

BREAKING DOWN Christy Walton

For several years, Fortune magazine called Christy Walton the world's richest woman, but in 2015, an analysis of court documents by Bloomberg led the business news source to conclude that rather than being worth $37 billion, she was actually only worth $5 billion. As a whole, the family wealth of the living Waltons may reach as high as $30 billion, but in the case of Christy Walton, her son Lukas Walton received the largest amount of inheritance from his deceased father John.

Christy Walton’s wealth largely comes from stock she owns in Walmart, which consists of more than 12% of shares outstanding. Her annual income in Walmart dividends alone was $460 million after taxes in 2013, according to Forbes. She also owns millions of shares of solar-panel manufacturer First Solar and a 26% stake in Arkansas’ largest commercial bank, Arvest Bank.

As profiled by The Giving Index in the magazine Portfolio, Walton is ranked as the highest female philanthropist according to the amount she gives as a percentage of her wealth. Actual wealth notwithstanding, Walton is perhaps best known for her philanthropic giving to organizations across the nation. 

Walton is co-chair of the Children’s Scholarship Fund, an organization that makes private education affordable for low-income children, an organization her husband John co-founded in 1988.  She also gives to numerous nonprofits including The Philanthropy Roundtable (which her husband belonged to), the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Zoological Society, and the Mingei International Museum.

In addition to her own personal giving, Walton is on the board of the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, which has its own pet projects that Walton contributes to, mostly for education. Receivers of the family’s largesse has included institutions of higher education such as the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, and several other colleges, community trusts, universities and foundations. In 2007, her family's foundation donated as much as $1.6 billion.[8]

Walton also produced the film adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya’s book “Bless Me Ultima “ in 2013, for which she received an award from the Imagen Foundation, which promotes employment and positive images of Latinos in television and film.