America has the most billionaires in the world, with about 536 in all, but of that number, only three of them are African Americans, which is less than 0.7 percent of the total. That number is perhaps indicative of the problems of inequality and unfair distribution of resources that remains in America today.
For example, Nigeria, alone, has about twice as many Black billionaires as there are in all of America, and for decades, America did not even have an African-American billionaire until business mogul Oprah Winfrey finally broke in to the elite ranks with the success of her daytime TV show.
Here, we celebrate the top 5 richest African Americans who have worked their way to the very top.
Sean “Diddy” Combs is a rapper, singer, producer, actor, and entrepreneur. Born in Harlem, New York, Diddy worked his way up from the bottom by making smart business decisions and exploiting every available business opportunity. The 46-year-old award-winning rapper is a co-owner of the Ciroc vodka brand and the urban clothing company Sean by Sean Combs.
Hip-hop mogul and legendary music producer Dr. Dre is one of the most respected entertainers of his generation. The 50-year-old founder of Aftermath Entertainment first found success as a rapper with the group Straight Out of Compton in the late-’80s.
Dr. Dre later focused on music production and is reputed to have launched the careers of rappers, such as Eminem, 50 Cent, and Xzibit. Not content with production, Dr. Dre explored the business side of things, co-founding the enormously successful Beats by Dre headphones that commands a massive 65 percent of the premium headphones market.
Apple corporation acquired Beats by Dre from Dr. Dre, partnering in a deal worth an estimated $3 billion.
Basketball icon Michael Jordan is the third richest African American. The 52-year-old former Chicago Bulls star is regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen of all times. Jordan, who now works as a public speaker and actor, has built an empire from his earnings as a player in addition to lucrative endorsement deals with several brands and, most importantly, his partnership with sportswear maker Nike for his Air Jordan shoes.
Robert Smith is the quiet, unassuming CEO of the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, which he founded in 2000. The company carved a niche for itself by fixing up enterprise software outfits and having a value of about $28 billion in assets.
Smith, 54, is also a renowned philanthropist, where he focuses on educational and entrepreneurship development. In 2015, he donated $50 million to Cornell University’s School of Engineering and recently offered to sponsor the education of the released Chibok girls abducted in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Oprah Winfrey is a world-renowned entertainment personality, business woman, and philanthropist. Oprah found fortune and fame by hosting the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” which ran for 25 years and was syndicated on major TV stations around the world.
Born in to poverty in America’s South, Oprah is a genuine example of a rags to riches story: She picked herself up by her bootstraps, overcame the numerous odds stacked against her, and is today the richest Black person in America, with her empire branching out to include an entertainment company, the OWN Network, movie production, and a publication.