From heiresses to hardworking dreamers who scrambled their way to the top, Virginia has some of the world’s wealthiest residents. It should come as too much of a surprise since Virginia is ranked as the 9th wealthiest state in the country. Thanks to a strong economy and our proximity to Washington, D.C., which ties with New Jersey as the #1 wealthiest “state”, Virginia does enjoy more than some. But if you want to get your name at the top of this list, it’s going to take more than $26 billion — that’s what our richest resident claims as her net worth. Read on to learn a little about the men and women — and families — that rank at the top of the state, the nation and even the world in wealth. You might just be surprised at how they did it.
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1. Jacqueline Mars: $26.1 billion
If the name doesn’t sound familiar, then focus on the last name and then think of a few of your favorite things. M&Ms, Snickers and Mars bars are just a few of the things that Jacqueline Mars has in her pocket. Ms. Mars is heiress to the Mars Candy fortune and is #22 on the world’s richest people list according to Forbes magazine. In 2014, she was #16 on the Forbe’s 400 list of wealthiest Americans. She ties with her 2 brothers, but living in The Plains makes her hands-down the wealthiest person in Virginia.
2. Randal Kirk: $4.6 billion
There’s something to be said for hard work and ingenuity and Randal Kirk is living proof. He graduated from Dublin High School and sold cars before enrolling at Radford University, where he eventually earned a degree in Economics. He went on to get his law degree from University of Virginia and worked as the only attorney in Bland County for 11 years. Since then, he has founded 3 pharmaceutical and biotech companies, including Intrexon, where he now serves as chairman and C.E.O. He is #118 on the Forbes list and lives with his family on a farm in Pulaski County.
3. Winnie Johnson-Marquart: $3.1 billion
Winnie Johnson-Marquart may have been born into wealth as the great-great granddaughter of the founder of S.C. Johson Corp., but she has done her part to make a name for herself. As the President of the Johnson Family Foundation, she provides grants to improve communities and spread social equality, education and improvement. She ranks #201 on Forbe’s American Billionaires list and lives in Virginia Beach with her family. Her brother, Fisk, runs S.C. Johnson, maker of popular brands such as Ziploc, Pledge and Scrubbing Bubbles.
4. Daniel D’Aniello: $3 billion
As the chairman and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, a D.C.-based private equity firm, Daniel D’Aniello didn’t always have a fortune at his disposal. As a teenager, he bagged groceries to help his single mother pay the bills, before attending Syracuse on scholarship. After earning his M.B.A. at Harvard, hard work and smart business moves have earned him a fortune and a #225 spot on Forbes Top 500. D’Aniello lives in Vienna with his family and oversees the day-to-day operations of his $200 billion net worth company.
5. William Conway, Jr.: $3 billion
It makes sense that William Conway and Daniel D’Aniello come in even on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans. As the founding partners of The Carlyle Group, they have made their mark in the world of finance. He earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago before teaming up with D’Aniello and David Rubenstein to start The Carlyle Group. Today, he lives in McLean with his wife.
6. The Gottwald Family: $2.7 billion
When Floyd Gottwald acquired the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation in 1963, it was considered the largest leveraged buyout ever. But the risk paid off, and today, the Gottwald Family of Richmond is the 87th wealthiest family in America. The family is still involved with their three companies, Tredegar Industries, Albemarle Corporation and the Ethyl Corporation, which is now called NewMarket Corporation.
7. The Estes family: $1.4 billion
I’m sure no one could imagine $1.4 million, much less $1.4 BILLION, when W.W. Estes bought an old Chevy and started a trucking company in the middle of the Great Depression. But careful money management and smart business moves have made the Estes very wealthy, indeed. The Richmond-based company is now run by Rob Estes, Jr, who took over from his father, who had succeeded his grandfather, in 1990. Today, more than 27,000 Estes Express Lines are on the road, hauling in more than $1.8 billion in annual revenue.
8. Steve Case: $1.35 billion
Even if you don’t know his name, you know his brand. Steve Case was the co-founder and former CEO and chairman of AOL from 1991 until 2003 when he started his own venture capital firm, Revolution, LLC. Based in McLean, Case continues to work with Revolution, as well as controlling large plots of land in his home state of Hawaii. Although he didn’t make the Forbe’s Top 400 list this year (Forbes requires a net worth of $1.55 billion to make the cut), Case still comes in with an impressive fortune worth $1.35 billion and is #460 on Forbes Wealthiest Americans list.
9. Frank Batten, Jr.: $950 million
When Frank Batten, Sr. died in 2009, he left an impressive legacy and an impressive fortune. Batten, from Hampton Roads, built Landmark Communications from his early days as publisher of the Newport News newspaper. In 1982, he founded The Weather Channel, which sold for $3.5 billion in 2008. His son, Frank Batten, Jr., who now sits at the head of Landmark, insists that his father gave away most of his estimated $1.8 billion fortune before his death, but Forbe’s estimates the family’s worth to remain around $2 billion and ranked them as the 115th wealthiest family in the U.S.
10. Sheila Johnson: $400 million
While Sheila Johnson may “only” have a net worth of $400 million, she and her former husband split an even larger fortune when they divorced in 2002. The couple co-founded BET and today, Johnson remains a shareholder in the Washington Wizards (NBA), the Washington Mystics (WNBA) and the Washington Capitals (NHL), making her the first African American woman to be an owner in 3 such franchises. She is also the CEO of Salamander Hospitality, the company behind the 168-room luxury Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg. Johnson lives in The Plains with her husband and remains an active philanthropist.
And just because it’s a fun fact, George Washington would have made the list if he was alive today. His estimated wealth (net worth) adjusted to today’s inflation would equal $525 million – and that makes him not only the first, but the wealthiest president in our nation’s history.
How many of these entrepreneurs, heirs and ingenious business people had you heard of?