Who Was the First Billionaire & Who Come After


In 2021, Forbes listed over 2,755 billionaires worldwide, and this number just keeps growing. Every single one of these billionaires has a unique story about their journey to success and fame. But who was the first billionaire this world has ever had? If you’ve ever wondered about the first member of this super exclusive club, read on.

Getting to Know the World’s First Billionaire

John D. Rockefeller was born in 1839. He started working at a young age and established Standard Oil Company in 1870. Eventually, this firm became one of the most powerful companies in history, making Rockefeller the first-ever billionaire on the planet when it was worth $1 billion in 1916.

Rockefeller’s story as a successful businessman is an amazing tale that every entrepreneur should pay attention to.

Meanwhile, here are additional interesting facts about the first American billionaire.

  • Rockefeller started working at the age of 16 and made his first million a decade later.
  • He celebrated his first job’s anniversary every year.
  • He was credited with helping build the United States.
  • To avoid Civil War combat, the first billionaire in history employed substitute soldiers.
  • He was known as a philanthropist and donated more than $500 million to various causes. 
  • The Rockefeller Foundation was the world’s largest grant-making organization.
  • His longevity enabled his life insurance firm to pay him $5 million in benefits.
  • He died at the age of 97 in 1937, leaving behind a legacy of wealth, generosity, and innovation.
  • If Winston Churchill hadn’t charged so much ($250,000), he would have written Rockefeller’s biography.

Becoming a billionaire in the 21st century is far easier than it was a century ago, but there are few who can compare to John D. Rockefeller’s legacy. He is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known individuals in American history who has impacted many of the country’s current businesses and landmarks.

Who Was the First Billionaire FAQ

Who was the first African American billionaire in the United States?

Reginald F. Lewis was the first Black American to build a billion-dollar company. He embodies self-reliance and entrepreneurship more than any other individual in history. 

His amazing success can be attributed to nothing less than genius, as he did not inherit money or connections that others before him had. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Lewis graduated with a degree in political science and has been one of the few select persons to be invited to attend Harvard Law School. He subsequently opened the country’s first Black-owned legal firm on Wall Street.

Some sources, however, cite Robert L. Johnson, the founder of cable station BET, as the first African American billionaire even though he no longer belongs to this exclusive club, based on Forbes’ estimates. 

Who was the first Black woman to become a billionaire?

You guessed it right if you said it’s Oprah Winfrey! She was one of the few representations of successful Black women on television. Not only she’s a television host, but also a media entrepreneur and author. Currently, Oprah’s net worth is $3.5 billion, and is one of the wealthiest self-made women in the United States.

Important facts about the world’s first billionaire Black woman:

  • In 1989, Oprah became a millionaire for the first time.
  • Her net worth surpassed $500 million in 1995.
  • Oprah reached another milestone when she became a billionaire in 2000.
  • Her real estate ownership is worth $200 million.
  • Her current annual earnings amount to $315 million.
  • To date, Oprah has donated at least $400 million to charity.

Who was the first billionaire author?

In 2005, Harry Potter used his magic wand to transform J.K. Rowling into a billionaire. She was the first billion-dollar author and one of only five self-made female billionaires.

According to Forbes, she’s also one of only 56 women on the planet to have amassed a billion-dollar fortune ever.

She’s a best-selling author who has sold more than 400 million copies of her book series, in almost 70 languages around the world.

The worldwide phenomenon that is Harry Potter became even more successful when JK Rowling’s Deathly Hallows book was released. The franchise has now become the highest-grossing movie series in history, with over $6 billion dollars made by 15 films so far.

Other interesting facts about J.K. Rowling:

  • Rowling was the youngest billionaire on the Forbes Billionaires List and the only British woman. She was also one of the world’s youngest billionaires, at 38 years old.
  • Her success is attributed to Harry Potter, which has become a billion-dollar brand.

Who was the first sports billionaire?

Tiger Woods has been setting records on and off the field since his debut on the PGA Tour in 1996. Nike was his first major endorsement deal, worth $40 million. 

The following year he won the Masters by a record 12 strokes, making him the youngest champion ever and the first black golfer to do so. He has made a name for himself in the professional circuit, with numerous accomplishments to his credit (14 Grand Slam titles, 9 Annual Money Titles, and 9 Player of the Year honors).

Finally, Woods can add one more item to his collection: the first athlete to make $1 billion in earnings. That also made him the first billionaire in the world of sports  According to Forbes’s estimates, Woods’ $10 million bonus for winning this year’s FedEx Cup title propelled him over the $1 billion mark in career earnings.

What race is the wealthiest in the US?

That would be whites. Millionaire statistics further show that whites have the highest chances of becoming millionaires, followed by Asian Americans. 

Who was the first hip-hop billionaire?

Forbes has declared that after constructing an empire based on music, property, fashion, and investments, Jay-Z is the first billionaire in hip hop history. Based on estimates, the rapper’s current net worth is “conservatively” worth $1 billion.

Forbes claims that Jay-Z’s success as a businessman stems from his ability to create brands rather than merely promote them.

Other interesting facts about the number 1 billionaire  in hip-hop music:

  • Jay-Z, who was the first billionaire hip-hop artist, was born Shawn Carter and grew up in one of New York City’s most notorious neighborhoods.
  • In 1996, he became internationally recognized after the release of his debut record Reasonable Doubt.
  • His 2001 album The Blueprint was designated “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in March and has been added to the registry.

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