1. Sam Walton: Introduction
  2. Sam Walton: Early Life and Education
  3. Sam Walton: Success Story
  4. Sam Walton: Net Worth
  5. Sam Walton: Famous or Infamous
  6. Sam Walton: Most Influential Quotes

When he died of cancer in 1992, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton willed a fortune of more than $100 billion to his heirs.

From 1982 through 1988, Forbes named Sam Walton the richest man in the world, a lofty position he lost only when the magazine made the decision to consider his fortune as one held jointly with his family members. He didn’t mind losing the distinction.

"All that hullabaloo about somebody's net worth is just stupid, and it's made my life a lot more complex and difficult," Walton said in an interview. (See also: 7 Real-Life Ways To Become A Billionaire.)

Despite his immense wealth, Walton had little enthusiasm for its trappings. When touring the country to visit stores, he typically rented subcompact cars and slept either in motels or at the homes of store managers. Walton lived in the same house from 1959 until his death in 1992, and when at home, drove a red pickup truck.

He said on many occasions that the money, beyond a certain point, was relatively unimportant. That view of humility was put to the test in the stock market crash of 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 508 points in a day. That week, Wal-Mart shares fell by 23%, causing roughly $1.7 billion of Walton's wealth to simply evaporate. When reporters caught up with Walton in Little Rock, Arkansas, they asked for his response to such a loss.

"It's paper anyway," Walton told them. "It was paper when we started and it's paper afterward."

Richest family in America

Today, the Walton family is the wealthiest family in America, according to Forbes, with a combined net worth of roughly $140 billion as of late 2017.

The Walton fortune is so vast that, in 2017, three separate Waltons ranked among the 20 richest people in America on the Forbes 400.

Christy Walton, the widow of Sam Walton’s son, John, who died in a plane crash in 2005, was the 85th-wealthiest person in the United States as of 2017.  She boasts a net worth of $7.6 billion, mostly in Wal-Mart stock.

Jim Walton, Sam's youngest son, had $48.4 billion in net worth in 2017, good for 11th on the list of the wealthiest Americans. After his brother John died, Jim took his spot on the Walmart Board of Directors. He is CEO of the family-owned Arvest Bank.

Alice Walton, the child that Sam Walton once described as being most like him, came in 13th on the 2017 list of wealthiest Americans, with a net worth of $48 billion.

The eldest, Samuel Robson "Rob" Walton was the 12th-richest American in 2017, according to Forbes, with a net worth of more than $48 billion. He served as Chairman of the Wal-Mart board from his father’s death in 1992 until 2015, passing the torch to his son-in-law, Greg Penner.

Before Sam Walton had even made his first billion, he had begun to set up elaborate trusts and mechanisms to leave his company in the control of his wife and children. That was one detail that his mentor and father-in-law Leland Stanford Robson had insisted upon. Thanks to his planning, the Walton family today still controls a majority of shares in the company.

Together, the Walton family formed the Walton Family Foundation, which is the 22nd largest charitable foundation in the United States, with $2.2 billion in assets. Given the wealth of the Waltons, the foundation is relatively small compared to the charitable commitments made by other multi-billionaires such as Bill Gates, who has endowed the majority of his wealth to his charitable foundation.

The Walton Family Foundation largely funded the construction of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The museum, which opened in 2011, was made possible by the foundation’s donation of more than $1.4 billion.

Sam Walton: Famous or Infamous
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Sam Walton Biography

    Sam Walton founded Walmart and Sam's Club big-box discount stores that have changed the way Americans buy goods.
  2. Investing

    Wal-Mart Founder’s Son Sells $62M Worth of Shares

    Similarly, earlier this year, Warren Buffett also got rid of nearly all of his WMT holdings.
  3. Managing Wealth

    Billionaires Who Haven't Taken The Pledge

    The Pledge has gained a lot of attention, but some names are missing. We'll look at a few notables not signing up.
  4. Personal Finance

    8 Ultra-Rich Women Investors

    These super-wealthy women have built their fortunes and their companies over the years.
  5. Personal Finance

    The 10 Richest Women In The United States (WMT, AAPL)

    We provide an overview of America's 10 richest women, the sources of their wealth, and their professional and philanthropic activities.
  6. Small Business

    The 10 Greatest Entrepreneurs

    These 10 entrepreneurs' names will live on long into the future - perhaps even after their enterprises are gone.
  7. Investing

    Who's the Richest Person in the 4 Richest U.S. States?

    Billionaires have congregated in a few states more than others. Who are the wealthiest residents of those states with the densest population of ultra-rich?
  8. Insights

    Buffett Loses Second Spot To Bezos; Gates Remains #1

    The Forbes 400 is out and Warren Buffett is bumped from the #2 spot for the first time in 15 years. Donald Trump fell 35 spots on the list.
  9. Insights

    High-Profile Christian Business Leaders

    Discover some well-known public business leaders who place a large emphasis on their religious faith.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What do the numbers that follow the bid and ask numbers in stock quotes represent?

    These numbers are called the bid and ask sizes, and represent the aggregate number of pending trades at the given bid and ...
  2. What is the Exponential Moving Average (EMA) formula and how is the EMA calculated?

    Learn the formula for calculating both simple moving averages and exponential moving averages, indicators that are frequently ...
  3. I placed a limit order to buy a stock after the market closed, but the stock's price gapped above the entry price and my order never got filled. How can I prevent this from happening?

    You can minimize the chances of this situation happening if you understand two types of orders: the buy-stop order and the ...
  4. China vs Hong Kong stock: Is H-shares and A-shares the same?

    Learn what the difference between A-shares and H-shares of publicly listed companies in China and Hong Kong stock exchange. ...
Trading Center