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Bill Gates Maintains Lead of World's Billionaires

  • VOA News

FILE - Bill Gates participates in a media availability on agricultural research, March 13, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

FILE - Bill Gates participates in a media availability on agricultural research, March 13, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The rich got richer in 2015.

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates kept his spot as the world's richest man, a rank he has held for 16 of the past 21 years, Forbes magazine said Monday.

The Microsoft co-founder's fortune increased $3.2 billion since last year to $79.2 billion, the business magazine said, despite a $1.5 billion gift of Microsoft shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November.

In second place is Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu, with a net worth of $77.1 billion.

Forbes said a record 290 newcomers joined the billionaires list in the last year. Nearly 25 percent of this year’s first-time billionaires hail from China, which produced a world-leading 71 newcomers. The United States came in second, with 57, followed by India with 28 and Germany with 23.

Of the record 197 women, the highest-ranked was Wal-Mart Stores heiress Christy Walton, who was eighth at $41.7 billion. France's Liliane Bettencourt, who got much of her wealth from cosmetics company L'Oreal SA, was 10th at $40.1 billion.

The most famous to join the list is U.S. basketball superstar Michael Jordan, thanks to his ownership of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and payouts from his Nike brand. Jordan had a net worth of $1 billion, the magazine said.

The world's youngest billionaire was 24-year-old Evan Spiegel, the CEO and co-founder of mobile messaging company Snapchat, with a net worth of $1.5 billion. Snapchat's other co-founder, 25-year-old Bobby Murphy, had the same net worth as Spiegel. Other tech billionaire newcomers were two co-founders of taxi ordering app Uber and one of its executives. Three co-founders of Airbnb, the vacation home rental website, also made the list.

Of the 1,826 members of the Forbes billionaires ranking, 46 are under the age of 40, and just under half of them owe their fortunes to technology.

The average fortune of this year’s newcomers is $1.8 billion. Altogether, they are worth $518 billion, another record.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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