Oprah, Jay-Z and other Black American billionaires who aren’t rich enough to make The Forbes 400

Abu Mubarik October 20, 2023
Jay-Z. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr

Each year, Forbes puts out a list of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States of America. Per the U.S. magazine, the world’s wealthiest 400 collectively made $4.5 trillion, tying a record set in 2021. 

Prior to that, they had collectively lost $500 billion, but they have gained it all back. The business magazine explained that half of the gains were a result of rebounding technology stocks. Net worths were calculated using stock prices from September 8, 2023.

Although there are about 10 black billionaires in America, only three Blacks made The Forbes 400 list and they were all men: Robert F. Smith, David Steward, and Michael Jordan. There was no Black woman on the list. It takes a record-tying net worth of at least $2.9 billion to earn a spot among The Forbes 400 ranking, Forbes said.

These black billionaires in America were not rich enough to make the grade.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey narrowly missed the cut for the third time in a row after having made the ranks for 25 years straight. She has an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion, making her one of the richest Americans. She was ranked 13th on Forbes’ latest ranking of the wealthiest self-made women in America.

According to Forbes, the media mogul made her money from reinvesting profits from her talk show and films like The Color Purple, Beloved, and Selma. Winfrey launched the cable channel OWN in 2011. Her 25.5% of the network is worth more than $65 million while her stake in Weight Watchers is around 10%.


Jay-Z is one of the black billionaires in America too poor to make the Forbes 400 list. His $2.5 billion net worth was not enough to earn him a spot on the prestigious list. The celebrated rapper hit multi-billion status following the sale of his controlling stake in the D’USSÉ Cognac brand for $750 million.

Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter in 1969, has made a name for himself as one of the best rappers in the world who is unearthing music talents. While still active in music, he ventured into entrepreneurship through the launch of multiple business and startup investments. 

His move into entrepreneurship paid off as a series of deals by the rapper saw his net worth increase by 40 percent, according to the latest valuation of his assets. For instance, he sold more than half of his stake in Tidal video and audio streaming services to Square, a digital payment platform run by Jack Dorsey.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has a net worth of $1 billion. Tiger Woods went from grace to grass and made a rebound, claiming his spot as a leading golf player in the world. He earned $2.1 billion from his career and also benefited from a longtime Nike partnership.

However, Woods saw his career take a hit following a publicized divorce due to infidelity, losing multiple endorsement deals as a result, having a few run-ins with the law, and enduring a string of injuries.

The athlete, however, managed to put his past behind him and proved his doubters wrong. Described as one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, the 47-year-old won his fifth Masters title at the Augusta National in 2019, making it his first major victory after 11 years.

Woods’ historic win was lauded on social media by Barack Obama, President Donald Trump, Lebron James, Serena Williams, and longtime partner, Nike, which stood by him throughout his tumultuous years, among others.

LeBron James

LeBron James is the first active NBA player to become a billionaire, according to Forbes. Though all-time basketball legend Michael Jordan is currently the NBA’s only other billionaire, he did not reach that mark until 2014, years after he retired from the NBA.

Forbes also noted that the Los Angeles Lakers star has “maximized his business,” to more than $1.2 billion in pretax earnings. “He has commanded more than $385 million in salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, as the NBA’s highest-paid active player. Off the court, he has raked in upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures,” Forbes wrote.

However, he owes his billionaire status to his major streams of income beyond the basketball court. “James has long structured deals to give him equity in brands he partners with, giving him a cut of the upside instead of a quick paycheck.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 21, 2023


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