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The 10 richest Black Americans in 2022

by Mfonobong Nsehe

According to Forbes, the leading authority tracking the fortunes of the world’s richest people, there are 10 African-American billionaires in the world today.

While some made their fortunes in conventional industries such as private equity and IT, the overwhelming majority have strong ties to the entertainment and sports industries and have used their celebrity leverage in sports and music to build businesses manufacturing everything from liquor and sneakers to pizza and hoodies, creating billions of dollars in value.

Meet the 10 richest Black Americans in 2022.

1. Robert F. Smith 

Source: Private Equity

Net worth: $6.7 billion

Robert F. Smith is America’s richest Black person. He is the founder of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that focuses exclusively on investing in software companies. Vista has $92 billion in assets and is one of the world’s best-performing private equity firms. It has posted annualized returns of 22 percent since it was founded in 2000. Smith, 59, is also a philanthropist of note. He promised to pay off the student loans of the entire Morehouse College graduating class of 2019 during his commencement speech.

2. David Steward

Source: IT

Net worth: $5.8 billion 

David Steward, America’s second richest Black person, is the founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, a 14.5-billion (sales) IT services company that boasts customers like Verizon and Citi among many others. The company, which he founded in 1990, now has more than 7,000 employees.

3. Oprah Winfrey

Source: Television, Films

Net worth: $2.5 billion

The “Queen of Talk,” Oprah Winfrey has built a thriving media empire that includes Harpo Productions, which has co-produced movies such as “The Color Purple,” “Beloved,” and “Selma.” She also owns a 25.5-percent stake in OWN, the cable channel that she launched in 2011, and a seven-percent stake in Weight Watchers.

4. Kanye West 

Source: Sneakers

Net worth: $2 billion

The hip hop artist and fashion mogul made the bulk of his fortune from a a lucrative multiyear deal to design sneaker brand Yeezy for German sportswear company Adidas. His Yeezy brand has been phenomenally popular and generated close to $2 billion in sales in 2020. In 2020, West also entered into a deal with U.S. clothing and accessories retailer Gap Inc. to sell a line of Yeezy clothing specially designed for Gap.

5. Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty

Source: Cosmetics, Music

Net worth: $1.7 billion 

Rihanna, a Barbados-born musician and entrepreneur, owes the bulk of her $1.7 billion to the extraordinary success of her cosmetics line Fenty Beauty. She owns a 50-percent stake in the $550-million (revenue) business alongside French luxury retailer LVMH. She also has a 30-percent stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which raised money at a $1-billion valuation in February 2021.

6. Michael Jordan

Source: Charlotte Hornets, Endorsements

Net worth: $1.7 billion

NBA great Michael Jordan earned $90 million in salary during his career, but according to Forbes, he has pocketed $1.8 billion (pre-tax) from such corporate partners as Nike, Hanes, and Gatorade. He is the chairman and principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets, an NBA team in North Carolina. In 2019, Jordan agreed to sell a minority stake in the NBA team that valued it at $1.5 billion. He is also a NASCAR team co-owner and owns a stake in sports-betting firm DraftKings.

7. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

Source: Liquor, Music Streaming

Net worth: $1.3 billion

Jay-Z, hip hop’s first billionaire, is the founder of entertainment company Rock Nation, and also owns stakes in Armand de Brignac and D’Usse cognac. Last year, he pocketed $297 million after selling a majority stake in Tidal, his high-fidelity music streaming platform, to Jack Dorsey’s Square. He also owns an impressive fine art collection that includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and owns venture capital firm Marcy Venture Partners.

8. Tyler Perry

Source: Films

Net worth: $1 billion

Tyler Perry is a writer, producer, director, and actor best known for the “Madea” film series, which has earned more than $660 million. Before switching to cinema and television in the 2000s, Perry first began out in live theatre in the 1990s and quickly rose to fame. Since he owns all of the content that he has produced, Perry’s wealth comes from both his share as a producer and a library dating back to the early 1990s. He inaugurated Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre facility in Atlanta with 12 sound stages and custom sets that include a to-scale White House in 2019.

9. Tiger Woods

Source: Golf, Endorsements, Real Estate

Net worth: $1 billion

Tiger Woods, the world’s greatest golfer, has won $121 million in prize money – more than any other pro golfer in history. However, less than 10 percent of his career earnings comes from his golf winnings. Most of his wealth stems from endorsements with brands such as Nike, Gatorade, Rolex and Monster Energy. Woods also owns a golf course design business and a live production company.  He is also an investor in Nexus Luxury Collection – an international hospitality real estate development and asset management company. He also owns stakes in a luxury mini-golf experience with multiple locations in Florida as well a hospital software startup. 

10. LeBron James

Source: Basketball, Endorsements, Investments

Net worth: $1 billion

LeBron James is the first active NBA player to become a billionaire. His pretax earnings from his time with the Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, his current team, total more than $385 million. Off the court, he has made well over $900 million (pretax) through commercial initiatives and endorsement agreements with companies such as PepsiCo, Walmart, and his lifelong sponsor, Nike. He also has equity in Beats by Dre and the Blaze Pizza chain.

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