Retail riches

Texas billionaire and family reign as the world’s richest clan, says Bloomberg

Texas billionaire and family reign as the world’s richest clan

Alice Walton
The Walton family fortune grew astoundingly in the past year — to the tune of $23 billion. Getty Images

It’s hardly a surprise that America’s Walton family, including Fort Worth-based billionaire Alice Walton, remains the world’s richest family. What’s truly stunning is how much their wealth has grown in the past year — by more than $23 billion.

In once again crowning the Waltons the world’s richest family, the Bloomberg news service recently reported that their collective fortune had risen by $23 billion in the past year due to the climbing stock price of the Walmart retail chain. Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in 1962.

Descendants of Sam and his brother, Bud, control more than 1.3 billion shares of Walmart stock either directly or through family trusts, Bloomberg says. Even though the Waltons have liquidated $6 billion in Walmart stock this year, they’re now worth more in 2021 than they were in 2020.

As of mid-September, the Waltons were worth $238.2 billion, according to Bloomberg. That’s almost $100 billion above the next richest family in the world, the Mars family of candy and pet-care fame. Last year, Bloomberg pegged the Waltons’ fortune at $215 billion.

To put the Waltons’ one-year, $23 billion bump in wealth into perspective, Bloomberg estimates the net worth of Walmart heir Lukas Walton at $22 billion.

Alice Walton ranks as the second-richest person in Texas (No. 1 is Elon Musk, at more than $200 billion), but she’s not the richest Walmart heir. As of September 27, Bloomberg estimated Walton’s net worth at $61.9 billion, making her the 19th richest person in the world. Ahead of her are brothers Jim ($63.7 billion, No. 17 worldwide) and Rob ($63.3 billion, No. 18 worldwide).

Not everyone is impressed with the Waltons’ mountain of money. In February, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, branded the Waltons “the poster child for greed,” based on the retailer’s low starting wage. Walmart recently raised its minimum pay for hourly workers from $11 to $12.

“This is a family that is incredibly wealthy,” Sanders said of the Waltons before the wage increase took effect.

“One of their owners spend[s] zillions of dollars on antique cars. They’ve got mansions. They have all kinds of art collections,” the senator told CNN. “But somehow or another they can’t pay their starting wage at more than 11 bucks an hour.”