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Top 10 Influential American Billionaires

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script Written by Trent Lee. There's rich, and then there's super rich. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 influential American billionaires. For this list, we’re only including American citizens whose personal yearly net worth is in the billion dollars income bracket. To be clear: the rich people in question did not have to be born in the USA to qualify. Special thanks to our user trentslee for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Influential American Billionaires

There’s rich, and then there’s super rich. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 influential American billionaires.

For this list, we’re only including American citizens whose personal yearly net worth is in the billion dollars income bracket. To be clear: the rich people in question did not have to be born in the USA to qualify.

#10: George Soros

“The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” shorted $10 billion worth of British pounds during Black Wednesday, the 1992 UK currency crisis. His profit? A cool billion. Born in Hungary but now a naturalizedAmerican citizen, he’s among the planet’s thirty richest people; one who helped Eastern Europe shift to capitalism from communism and more recently, one of President Barack Obama’s wealthiest supporters. The politically active Soros contributed $1 million in support of Obama’s 2012 campaign and later boosted Hillary Clinton’s Presidential aspirations by signing on as finance co-chair of the “Ready for Hillary” super PAC. A staunch progressive-liberal, Soros has contributed $8 billion to human rights, healthcare, and education projects, using his wealth for both politics and philanthropy.

#9: Rupert Murdoch

The medium is the message and nobody understands this better than media baron Rupert Murdoch. The Australian-born American Murdoch founded both News Corp, the second-largest global media group on the planet, and 21st Century Fox, and for years, Murdoch has waged war against left-wing politics through interests like The Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Allying with other media barons, including Michael Bloomberg, Murdoch has become prominent in immigration reform issues. Using Fox News’ firebrand right wing religious and fiscal conservatism, Murdoch’s changed the media landscape and how Americans receive and process information from the media.

#8: Charles & David Koch

“The Brothers Grim,” Charles and David Koch are co-owners of the second largest privately held company in America, Koch Industries. Board Chair and CEO Charles and Executive VP David control a company that deals in resource products from oil and chemicals to pulp and paper and ranching. Together, they support America’s most influential free-market, right-wing libertarian forces. The duo has poured billions into unseating Democrat senators and waging war on Obamacare. TIME magazine named the Kochs among the world’s most influential people, while The Brookings Institute has indexed the brothers as the most politically powerful American billionaires.

#7: Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s co-founder, chairman and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg created the largest social media network site with billions of users worldwide. Facebook’s global force facilitated countless campaign launches and businesses. Indeed, Zuckerberg’s global phenomenon changed how people interact with each other and the Internet. In 2010, Time magazine name Zuckerberg its Person of the Year; he also made Time’s list of 100 most influential people of all time. Not only an innovator when it comes to internet, Zuckerberg joined the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for “The Giving Pledge,” promising to eventually give more than half of his fortune to charity.

#6: Michael Bloomberg

Not only making our list but also landing in the top 10 richest people in the U.S., this former Mayor of New York City is also the multimedia billionaire mogul behind Bloomberg LP, the financial news agency. And like the City that Never Sleeps, Michael Bloomberg works tirelessly both as a politician and philanthropist, to promote gun control through non-profits such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown for Gun Safety. Furthermore, Bloomberg has contributed millions of dollars to his super PAC, Independence USA, to influence not only gun control but also marriage equality and education issues.

#5: Warren Buffett

He’s “The Oracle of Omaha” and the most successful investor of the 20th century. Warren Buffet is chairman, CEO and majority shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, and many have adopted his simple approach to investing: always focus on value. In 2008, Buffett’s shrewd skill had earned him the title of world’s richest person, an honor he lost after he donated billions to charity. Dubbed one of the world’s mostinfluential people by Time Magazine in 2012, Buffett lately has been criticized by his wealthy colleagues for his higher taxes crusade against the super-rich, but he remains a powerful player thanks to the money and respect he’s earned.

#4: Oprah Winfrey

An embodiment of the American Dream, Oprah emerged from more-than-humble beginnings in rural Mississippi to become a talented TV host, a powerhouse interviewer and one of the world’s most recognizable faces. Seen as the media force that popularized the talk show and confessional TV, Ms. Winfrey is also credited with breaking cultural taboos and bringing spirituality to the mainstream. And her influence reaches far past the media world: with her support, any product or even political candidate can expect a surge in support. By forever changing television and establishing herself as a shrewd businesswoman, Ms. Winfrey became one of the wealthiest African-Americans of the 20th century.

#3: John D. Rockefeller

Oil tycoon John Rockefeller was America’s first billionaire, thanks to his incredibly successful Standard Oil Company, and in fact – adjusted for inflation – he’s the richest person in history. At one point, he controlled some 90% of all oil in America, leading to a monumental 1911 antitrust case and an equally monumental Supreme Court decision: Rockefeller and Standard Oil were found guilty of monopolist practices, and so the company was carved into 34 entities, some of which eventually became oil juggernauts Chevron and ExxonMobil. This case established the precedent for antitrust policy in America and was adopted worldwide, but that’s not all Rockefeller influenced: without him, the face of modern philanthropy would also be significantly different.

#2: Steve Jobs

The Leonardo of the Silicon Age, Steve Jobs was Apple’s co-founder, chairman, and CEO. After being fired and rehired, Jobs rebranded and reinvented the then-struggling computer company as an underdog. The result was one of the greatest company comeback stories in history. Jobs completely changed consumers’ relationship with products, and by doing so, he not only impacted how people engaged with Apple’s sleek and modern products, but with the world as well. Jobs became the 21st century’s marketing luminary; it’s no wonder he was named one of Time Magazine’s 20 Most Influential Americans of All Time.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Sheldon Adelson
- Alice Walton
- John & Laura Arnold
- Penny Pritzker
- Donald Trump
- Tom Steyer

#1: Bill & Melinda Gates

The world’s richest man, Bill Gates, is co-founder of Microsoft, the computer software giant. After making his fortune, Bill and wife Melinda devoted themselves to philanthropy, pledging to donate the majority of their wealth to charity over time and championing diverse causes and policies. These include public education reform, ending world poverty and the support of same-sex marriage. The Gates established the largest global charitable foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and they have supported it with some $28 billion in funding. Indeed, this power couple has created the perfect marriage of philanthropy and profits and has taken both to great new heights.

Do you agree with our list? Which American billionaires do you think are the most influential? For more business-y top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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