Tuesday morning, the publication that celebrates the world’s most business savvy people, announced Kylie Jenner, 21, was the youngest self-made billionaire, turning the internet on its head. This claim alone was incorrect, she’s not self-made, which dictionary.com, doing what it does best, defined the term for all of us.
Forbes, on the other hand, developed their own ranking system which defines self-made on a scale from 0-10 with Oprah, who grew up poor and with serious substantial hardships scoring a 10 and Jenner, born with a silver spoon in her mouth and fame to leverage to her advantage scored a 7. A score of 1 means you inherited everything, which I guess earning royalties from a reality show since adolescence, and then launching a make-up company atop heaps of cash, is a far-cry from… but mkay, Forbes. I’m just going to leave my side-eye gifs here.
Here are five real fired-from-their-first-job, worked-as-a-taxi-driver, climbed-their-way-to-the-top self-made billionaires.
Everybody’s favorite auntie, Oprah Winfrey is the GOAT rags to riches story. Oprah, who was fired from her first on-air job as a co-anchor at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV, grew up in poverty and without family connections or networks from which to flourish from. However, when she was told at the age of 22 she was “unfit for television news.” Now the media mogul, actress, and produce who secured her own talk show consisting of featuring A-listers, created her own network, as well as a a magazine and now her own pizza (now if that ain’t goals I don’t know what is), is and has been the richest African-American woman in the United States with an estimated worth of $2.5 billion.
Michael Jordan the original GOAT, is the world’s first billionaire athlete. MJ was born in Brooklyn, New York to an equipment supervisor and banker. He was one of five kids. In his sophomore year in high school, standing at 5’11” Jordan was told he was too short to qualify for the varsity basketball team. Determined to rise above, Jordan became the star of the junior varsity team. The following year, he qualified for the varsity team. He was recruited by numerous colleges before attending North Carolina for 3 years before entering the draft, shattering records, and becoming the Greatest Of All Time. While scoring an average of …. Per game, Jordan propelled himself to billionaire status by securing major sponsorships with Gatorade, Nike, Hanes, Upper Deck, and of course his legendary collaboration with Nike on the Jordan brand for $1 million. MJ is earning $1.9 billion.
Folorunsho Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman, who at one point surpassed Oprah as the richest Black woman on the planet. Alakija is currently the Vice Chair of Fame Oil, a a Nigerian company that owns a substantial participating interest in OML 127, a lucrative oil block on the Agbami deep-water oilfield in Nigeria, according to Forbes. In 1993, Alakija acquired an oil prospecting license for Famfa Oil to prospect a 617,000 area block called OPL 216. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras.
Prior to this, Alakija started her career as a secretary at Sijuade Enterprises. She quit in the 1970s and moved to England to pursue a career in fashion. As a result, she launched her own tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. Serving primarily upper class clientele, like Maryam Babangida, wife to Nigeria’s former military president Ibrahim Babangidathe, the company became a household name. Alakija’sz estimated net worth is $1.1 billion.
Aliko Dangote is an honorable mention. He is the richest Black man on Earth, with an estimated net worth of $10.9 billion. However, he was born into a wealthy Muslim family as his great grandfather was the richest African when he passed away.
For clarification’s sake, Jenner’s billionaire status is an estimate based on current numbers and the projections. Since the internet backlash, Forbes has since pinned a tweet that further details her estimated billionaire status without the words “self-made.” The original tweet remains on their account.
Mike Adengua is a Nigerian billionaire who earned his spot as the second richest Black man in the world. His father was a school teacher and his mother was a businesswoman. After attending secondary school, Adengua worked as a taxi driver to finance his college education. He went on to graduate with Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Pace University, New York, with degrees in Business Administration. Adengua then launched Conoil Producing Company, which became one of the first Nigerian companies to be granted an oil exploration license in the 90s. Adengua also expanded into the telecom industry. His company Globacom where his is one of the country’s leading operator, providing services to over 40 million subscribers. He also owns a ton of property. In fact, he owns more property than any other individual in Nigeria and Ghana. By 26, Adengua made his first million. Currently, his net worth is an estimated $9.1 billion.
Robert F. Smith
Robert F. Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Previously working as an executive at Goldman Sachs, Smith left to start his company in his fifties. <i>It’s truly never too late fam! </i>Smith’s company, which focuses primarily on investing in software companies, was started in 2000 and has since grown to more than 280 employees. The firm holds more than $30 billion in managed assets and is one of the best-performing private equity firms, according to Forbes.
Smith grew up in a middle-class family where both of his parents were school teachers with PhDs. Though, his success is rooted in his “go-getter” attitude. In high school he applied for a prestigious Bell Labs internship, reserved for college students. As the story goes, Smith called every day and when a student from M.I.T. didn’t show up, Smith took his place. Smith later went on to attend Cornell University and Columbia Business School. Smith’s estimated net worth is $5 billion.