While hundreds of thousands of people spent the last year largely out of work, nearly 500 people benefitted so much during the year of the pandemic they reached billionaire status.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially labelled the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. One week later, on March 18, 2020 Forbes took a snapshot of billionaire wealth and recorded 2,095 people who qualified for their World’s Billionaires list.
It’s hard to comprehend that even a couple of people have bank balances reaching above nine digits, so trying to wrap your head around more than 2,000 of them is near impossible. It’s only worsened over the last 12 months though, as one year on there are now 2,755 billionaires out there – 493 of which are brand new to the list.
In a report released today, April 6, Forbes noted that the number of newbies massively breaks the previous record for the most new billionaires in a year, which was 290 in 2015.
The rate at which the world acquired a new billionaire worked out to be, on average, one every 17 hours. That means that at some point each day, while the rest of us were baking banana bread, bingeing Tiger King or attempting to get our steps in around the living room, someone was becoming a billionaire.
The average net worth of the newcomers is $2 billion, and they have an average age of 54, compared to 63 for the overall list of 2,755 billionaires.
An impressive 84% of the fresh faces are self-made billionaires, meaning they founded their money-making companies themselves rather than inherited their wealth, as is the case for 72% of the overall list.
China topped the leader board when it came to reaching billionaire status in the last year, bringing 205 people to the list including Chen Zhiping, chairman and CEO of vaping device-maker Smoore International, who is worth $15.9 billion, and Kate Wang, CEO of Chinese vaping company RLX Technology, who is worth $5 billion.
A total of 36 countries have at least one new billionaire this year, with Germany in third place with 26 and Canada and India in joint fourth position with 19 each.
The youngest addition to the list, Kevin David Lehmann, is not only new to being a billionaire, but also to being an adult. At just 18 years old he is worth $3.3 billion as heir to Germany’s leading drugstore chain, dm-drogerie markt.
Austin Russell is the youngest self-made billionaire at 26 years old thanks to his creation of the laser lidar startup Luminar, which makes sensors that help self-driving cars see in 3D.
The wealth of each of these individuals is impressive enough in itself, but together they are worth a staggering $13.1 trillion – an increase of $8 trillion in 2020.
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