In this article we are going to list the 25 highest earning billionaires in 2020. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 highest earning billionaires in 2020.
What is the definition of wealth? Let me start with the definitions of economists who research inequality. Wealth is the sum of everything you own (cash, house, car, furniture, art paintings, bank money, value of shares, bonds, etc.) plus the value of available payments based on life insurance and similar investments, minus all debts. In other words, it is the amount you would have at your disposal if you liquidated all your possessions today and settled all obligations. (That amount, of course, can be negative.)
The wealth of billionaires around the world reached record levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many intensified risky investments in turbulent financial markets and profited from the technological boom, writes the Financial Times. Their collective wealth, according to the annual research of the Swiss bank UBS, reached 10.2 thousand billion dollars this summer, which exceeded the previous record from 2017, which also increased the number of billionaires to 2,189, compared to 2,158 in 2017. Although billionaires' wealth has declined since statistics were collected in July, largely due to stock market declines, the data suggests it is still well above its 2020 lowest moment, when their combined wealth plummeted in April to eight thousand billion dollars due to the shock of the corona virus pandemic.
Billionaires increased philanthropic gifts in response to the pandemic. A UBS report states that between March and June, 709 people made donations of $ 7.2 billion. More than half, $4.6 billion, was given in the United States. Discreetly given donations were not taken into account in this calculation. When you enter the names of the richest people in the search engine, you will get articles through which you will find out how they built their empire, but also what they usually spend their billions on. Most of them, under that hobby section, instead of sports or some other activity, will have philanthropy inscribed, which they will often say is their main job. Some of them are generous hands and donate about one or two percent of their wealth for various purposes. And those greatest lovers of humans among them will give away half of all they have. Bill and Melinda Gates founded The Giving Pledge, which aims to convince the richest people in the world to donate half of everything to various philanthropic projects. Most famous among them are Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg.
However, you know there is something very wrong with the world when most people are struggling to fulfil their basic necessities while the wealth of billionaires is increasing by an obscene amount. It took the government of the United States months to approve payments of $600 to people who were out of work, while at the same time, just the top two richest people in the world, both in the US, saw their net worth increasing by $200 billion. While 40 million Americans lost their jobs, of which millions still are looking for one, the net worth of billionaires kept on growing not just fast, but more or less exponentially. After all, imagine 100 people making $124 billion in just one year. That seems insane right? Well, just the number entry in our list of highest earning billionaires made that figure all on his own? Who is it? Well, you'll have to read on to find out.
This list also illustrates the difference between those who are successful in business and those who are successful in any other field. If you're a successful musician or actor, even at the height of success, you'll be worth a few hundred million dollars (and that is a best case scenario). The same is true for if you're a highly successful athlete. Lionel Messi, the greatest football player in the history of the sport, recently had his confidential contract leaked, which was the biggest contract in the history of sport. The contract was worth more than $600 million over a 5 year period. For the people in our list, that is pocket change. And even if you're working at the highest level for some of the biggest companies in the world, for example the biggest banks and you are the global CEO of the bank, even then your annual package will be in the tens of millions of dollars, and if you're really incredible, maybe over a hundred million annually but that is quite rare. Again, that is peanuts compared to the billions the people in our list lose or gain every month.
The UBS report was published at a time of growing concern that the pandemic would deepen economic inequalities, CNN reports, noting that an earlier report revealed that in the last two decades, the growth of wealth of American billionaires was 200 times higher than the growth of media wealth. However, CNN points out, some billionaires are getting rich faster than others as the pandemic reportedly widened the wealth gap between innovators in technology, healthcare and industry and entrepreneurs in areas such as entertainment, financial services and real estate. Our rankings are based on the Bloomberg Index which shows the real time wealth of billionaires, and we have taken the list as at December 31, 2020 to accurately determine the biggest gainers in 2020. So let's take a look at the people who earned more than most nations in just a single year, starting with number 25:
25. Len Blavatnik
Total earnings in 2020: $12.2 billion
His conglomerate company, Access Industries, is responsible for making diversified investments in several companies from different industries, which are the source for Blavatnik's fortune, making him one of the richest Russians in the world.
24. Phil Knight
Total earnings in 2020: 13.1 billion
Phil Knight is the co-founder of apparels and sportswear giant Nike (NYSE:NKE), which has taken his net worth past the $50 billion mark in January 20201.
TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com
23. He Xiangjian
Total earnings in 2020: $13.2 billion
He is the co-founder of one of the biggest appliance makers in China in Midea, and is the 31st richest person in the world right now.
22. Tadashi Yanai
Total earnings in 2020: $14.5 billion
Tadashi Yanai was the highest earning billionaire in 2020, and is the founder of Fast Retailing. He is also the richest man in Japan.
21. Wang Wei
Total earnings in 2020: $16.7 billion
Wang Wei is the founder of SF Express, which is a logistics company in China and the source of his vast fortune.
20. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
Total earnings in 2020: $16.8 billion
The French billionaire's family owns the biggest cosmetics company in the world in L'Oreal and is currently the richest woman in the entire world.
19. Sergey Brin
Total earnings in 2020: $17.1 billion
Both Google co-founders make our list of the highest earning billionaires in 2020, though Sergey Brin didn't earn quite as much as Larry Page did, who you will see later on.
18. Pony Ma
Total earnings in 2020: $17.8 billion
Pony Ma is the founder of the most valuable company in Asia by far, in Tencent, which is a major conglomerate. The company has a major presence in tech, internet, gaming and entertainment and runs China's biggest messaging app in WeChat. He is consistently said to be one of the most influential people in the world and is the second richest man in China right now.
17. Larry Page
Total earnings in 2020: $17.8 billion
The co-founder of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) saw his net worth in 2020 increase significantly, as tech companies experienced a boom during 2020 as most people working from home or quarantining resorted to increasing their online usage.
16. Mukesh Ambani
Total earnings in 2020: $18.1 billion
The richest man in India, and the owner of Reliance Industries, the biggest corporation in India, is making a move into tech, while his diversified holdings ensured that he made a handsome amount even during a very turbulent year for most industries.
15. Bill Gates
Total earnings in 2020: $18.6 billion
The founder of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) only takes 15th spot in our list of the highest earning billionaires in 2020, even though he's still the third richest man in the world.
14. Pang Kang
Total earnings in 2020: $19 billion
Pang Kang is the Chinese chairman of Foshan Haitian Flavouring and Food Co., and saw his net worth increase hugely during a very productive 2020 for the company.
13. Lei Jun
Total earnings in 2020: $20.2 billion
Lei Jun co-founded Xiaomi, which is one of the biggest phone companies in the world right now, even though it is mired in controversy regarding using the technology to spy on the West.
12. Larry Ellison
Total earnings in 2020: $20.9 billion
Like most billionaires who are involved in the tech industry, Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), made a lot of money in 2020, increase his net worth by nearly $21 billion.
11. Jay Y
Total earnings in 2020: $21.2 billion
The business magnate was the highest earning South Korean in 2020, and he has been the
chairman of Samsung, one of the biggest corporations in the world. However, he was sidelined from the business in January 2021 due to being convicted for bribe and embezzlement, which could really hurt his earnings in 2021.
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Disclosure: No position. 25 highest earning billionaires in 2020 is originally published at Insider Monkey.