How Were The Fortunes Of America's 10 Richest Families Impacted By The Pandemic?

By on June 21, 2021 in ArticlesBillionaire News

We're living in wild times. Who could have predicted as we celebrated the winter holidays of 2019/2020 that a global pandemic would soon sweep through the world and change pretty much everything about the way we lived, worked, shopped, traveled, communicated, celebrated, went to the doctor, etc.

It's been well-publicized that billionaires have gotten extremely rich in the last 1.5 years.

Jeff Bezos, for example, added $75 billion to his net worth during the pandemic thanks to the increase in online shopping.

With that example in mind, we thought it would be interesting to pull up a list of the richest families in the U.S. from before the pandemic hit and see how their net worth has changed post-COVID.

We'll start with their 2018 net worth and examine 2019, and 2020 to see how much each of the 10 richest families in the U.S. have made and lost.

Rob, Alice and Jim Walton (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

#10. The Hearst family

2018 Net worth: $24.5 billion

2019 Net Worth: $23 billion

2020 Net Worth: $21 billion

Source of wealth: Hearst Corporation

The Hearst family heirs descend from William Randolph Hearst, who founded The San Francisco Examiner in 1887. His son, William Jr., became a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His grandson William III runs the Hearst Corp. today, which owns 46 newspapers, 340 magazines, and has stakes in ESPN, Lifetime, and A&E.

The Hearst family fortune has lost $3.5 billion from 2018 to 2020. The effects of the pandemic are directly to blame. Consider the family stake in ESPN. Live sports completely stopped for a number of months and when they came back, the seasons were shortened. The same goes for film and television production related to the family's Lifetime and A&E stakes. Similarly, newspaper and magazine revenues took a hit during the pandemic as well due to the fact that many industries, like the cruise and travel industries ground to a halt so there was no need to advertise them.

#9. The Duncan family

2018 Net worth: $26 billion

2019 Net Worth: $24 billion

2020 Net Worth: $22 billion

Source of wealth: Enterprise Products Partners

Siblings Randa, Milane, Dannine, Avara, and Scott inherited a $10 billion estate from their father Dan Duncan when he died in 2010. The family fortune has more than doubled since then thanks to a rise in the stock price of Enterprise Products Partners, which their father founded.

The Duncan family fortune declined by $4 billion from 2018 to 2020. They are in the natural gas and crude oil industry. Naturally, there were fewer cars and trucks on the road during the pandemic-related shutdowns, leading to less demand for oil and gas.

#8. The SC Johnson family

2018 Net worth: $28.2 billion

2019 Net Worth: $30 billion

2020 Net Worth: $37 billion

Source of wealth: SC Johnson

S.C. Johnson founded a parquet flooring company in 1886 and developed a floor wax for his customers. That is how the S.C. Johnson company and fortune began. Today, the company is known for products such as Ziploc, Windex, and Pledge. The Johnson family continues to own and run the privately held company.

The fortune of the SC Johnson family fared well in COVID, having gained $8.8 billion since 2018. The company's motto is: "We care about making life cleaner, healthier, and better. That is why we have spent over a century making innovative, quality products that work." The pandemic had all of us cleaning our homes, our hands, the packages and groceries that came into our houses and some of the products we used came from SC Johnson.

#7. Edward Johnson family

2018 Net worth: $28.5 billion

2019 Net Worth: $30 billion

2020 Net Worth: $36 billion

Source of wealth: Fidelity

Edward C. Johnson II founded Boston-based Fidelity Investments. Third-generation family member Abigail Johnson currently serves as its CEO. Fidelity is the second-largest mutual fund company in the world with $1.8 trillion in assets under management. The Johnson family owns 49% of the company. There's no relation to the SC Johnson family or the Johnson & Johnson company.

The stock market went absolutely crazy in 2020. After a massive dip in March 2020, stocks and funds soared through the end of the year. This was great news for the family of Edward Johnson and their company, Fidelity Investments, helping the family fortune increase $7.5 billion from 2018 to 2020.

#6. The Pritzker family

2018 Net worth: $33.5 billion

2019 Net Worth: $33 billion

2020 Net Worth: $32.5 billion

Source of wealth: Hyatt Hotels

The Pritzker clan lays claim to the Hyatt Hotel fortune. Hyatt was founded by A.N. Pritzker and his sons Jay, Donald, and Robert. There are 11 billionaires in the family. With travel being almost entirely shut down during the pandemic, the slight loss in net worth here makes sense.

#5. The Cox family

2018 Net worth: $33.6 billion

2019 Net Worth: $33.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $33.6 billion

Source of wealth: Cox Enterprises

The Cox family fortune began when James M. Cox bought the Dayton Evening News in 1898. The company expanded from there and today is made up of Cox Communications, Cox Media Group, DealerTrack,, Kelley Blue Book, and Manheim car auctions.

The Cox family is the only family fortune on this list to neither make or lose money during the pandemic.

#4. The Cargill-MacMillan family

2018 Net worth: $42.3 billion

2019 Net Worth: $43 billion

2020 Net Worth: $47 billion

Source of wealth: Cargill Inc.

The Cargill-MacMillan fortune started when W.W. Cargill founded a small grain storage company in 1865 just as the Civil War was ending. The expansion of the railroads to the west made him a wealthy man. Today there are more billionaires in the Cargill-MacMillan family – 14 to be exact – than in any other family in the world. Four members of this family fell off the list of the 400 wealthiest Americans in 2019 — Alexandra Daitch, Sarah MacMillan, Lucy Stitzer, and Katherine Tanner, who each have a net worth of $1.7 billion, down from $2.1 billion from 2018.

The Cargill-MacMillan family business is in food and agriculture. That's a pretty darn stable business to be in. After all, people need to eat and even in a pandemic, farmers were still farming.

#3. The Mars family

2018 Net worth: $89.7 billion

2019 Net Worth: $90 billion

2020 Net Worth: $94 billion

Source of wealth: Mars Inc.

The two living Mars siblings (Jacqueline and John) own the world's largest candy company. Mars generates more than $30 billion in sales each year. The company was started when their grandfather began making and selling candy from his kitchen in Tacoma, Washington in 1911.

The Mars family fortune has grown steadily year to year since 2018. It increased very slightly from 2018 to 2019 and then $4 billion from 2019 to 2020. I don't know about you, but when I was stuck at home for 14 months I turned to comfort food and that was often a Snickers bar. The growth of the Mars fortune indicates I was not the only person doing this.

#2. The Koch family

2018 Net worth: $98.7 billion

2019 Net Worth: $98.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $120 billion

Source of wealth: Koch Industries

Charles Koch runs Koch Industries, the U.S.'s second-largest private company with more than $100 billion in sales. The company was started by their father Fred, who made his fortune in the 1920s by developing a new oil refining process. David Koch died in 2019 and left the bulk of his fortune to his wife Julia Koch.

The Koch family fortune grew by $20 billion from 2019 to 2020. Koch Industries owns Georgia-Pacific, a maker of, among other things, toilet paper and paper towels – both of which were hot commodities in the spring and summer of 2020.

#1. The Walton family

2018 Net worth: $151.5 billion

2019 Net Worth: $191 billion

2020 Net Worth: $247 billion

Source of wealth: Walmart

The Waltons are the richest family in America thanks to Walmart. Founded by Sam and Bud Walton in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962, Walmart is the largest business in the U.S. in terms of revenue, with $559.2 billion in sales. For comparison, Amazon's most recent revenue figures show $386.1 billion in revenue. Like Amazon, Walmart benefited from pandemic panic and online shopping to see its revenue, and hence the Walton family fortune rise $46 billion from 2019 to 2020.

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