July 2014
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Richest African Americans 2012 – Forbes Wealthiest Black Americans

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The queen of television, Oprah Winfrey is the richest African-American and one of the most lucrative brands in the world. Winfrey tops the inaugural Forbes list of the Wealthiest Black American. She is the only African-American billionaire on the Forbes’ 2012 Billionaires list. Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson was the first African American billionaire in 2000 after after he sold the network to Viacom for $3 billion.

#1. Oprah Winfrey

Net worth: $2.7 billion As of March 2012
Source of Wealth: Television, self-made
Education: BA/BS, Tennessee State University

The queen of daytime TV is now the queen of cable. Winfrey’s OWN station launched in the beginning of 2011. In addition to her cable channel, Winfrey in overseeing the last season of her syndicated show, a magazine and Harpo productions. She also started a school for girls in South Africa. Winfrey has 5.2 million followers on Twitter. Her Harpo Productions helped create the likes of Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray. She’s produced Broadway shows and has her own satellite radio channel and recently launched Oprah Winfrey Network(OWN). For all of this, she consistently earns more than $225 million a year.


#2. Sean “Diddy” Combs

Net Worth: $550 million As of April 2012
Source of Wealth: Rapper, record producer, actor, fashion designer and businessman

Diddy’s business ventures, along with his career as a rapper, have made him the richest rapper on the planet,built fortune chiefly through clothing line Sean John, record label Bad Boy and Ciroc vodka. Acting gigs, television shows and guest appearances add to coffers.Diddy was crowned 2011 wealthiest artist in hip-hop, with a fortune of $475 million. The “Hello Good Morning” rapper beat Jay-Z, who has an estimated wealth of $450 million, to claim the top spot in Forbes 2011 – Top 5 Wealthiest Hip Hip Artists .


#3. Robert Johnson

Estimated net worth: $550 million As of May 2009
Source of Wealth: BET, investments

The first African-American billionaire’s fortune dropped when the recession hammered media and hotel markets. With his wife, he founded cable channel Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1979 with $15,000 of his own money and a $500,000 investment by  John Malone’s cable and media giant Tele-Communications Inc. He became the first African-American billionaire in 2000 after selling BET to Viacom for $3 billion in stock and assumed debt. His former wife and BET co-founder, Sheila Johnson, took half of the fortune in 2002 divorce.


#4. Tiger Woods

Net worth: $500 million As of September 2010
Source of Wealth: Golf, endorsements

Woods has earn over $130 million in career prize money and $900 million in revenue from endorsements, appearance fees and golf course design business since 1996. His agents, the tax man and recently divorced wife Elin Nordegren have all gotten pieces of those earnings. But he will make it to 10 figures if he starts winning again and sponsors return.


#4. Michael Jordan

Net worth: $500 million As of September 2010
Source of Wealth: Basketball, Nike, endorsements

Former Chicago Bulls wonder earned $90 million in salary during his playing career. Most of his fortune now derives from endorsement deals with his biggest sponsor, Nike; he raised his stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats to 80% this year.


#4. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr.

Net worth: $500 million As May 2009
Source of Wealth: Restaurants, real estate, investments

The retired professional basketball after announcing he had contracted HIV, became an entrepreneur. He introduced well-known brands to diverse neighborhoods via Magic Johnson Enterprises. With his several partnerships with companies like Starbucks, 24 Hour Fitness, T.G.I. Fridays, AMC Theatres, invested in urban real estate and companies catering to America’s underserved markets via his Canyon-Johnson and Yucaipa-Johnson funds. He has donated several millions to community-based organizations that focus on HIV/AIDS education and prevention. He now runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company that has a net worth of $700 million


#7. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

Net Worth: $460 million As of April 2012
Source of Wealth: Rapper, songwriter,entrepreneur, co-owner of the New Jersey Nets

’99 Problems’ rapper and Beyonce’s husband sold Rocawear clothing label for $204 million in 2007; signed 10-year $150 million Live Nation deal in 2008. Now boasts an impressive portfolio, including shares in the New Jersey Nets as well as his input in fashion, music and restaurant businesses.


#8. William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr.

Net worth: $450 million+ As of May 2009
Source of Wealth: The Cosby Show, entertainment

The legendary comedian, left high school in 10th grade and  finished via correspondence course while in the Navy. He broke a long-standing racial barrier when he was cast as an equal to a white actor on NBC’s “I Spy” in the 1960s, a role that garnered him three Emmy Awards. He went on to launched The Cosby Show on NBC. The iconic series was an immediate success. It has since made him hundreds of millions in pay and syndication dollars. He also had a best-selling book, Fatherhood, in 1986. It sold over 4 million copies. With his wife, Camille, they donated $20 million in 1988 to Spelman College in Atlanta . He was wwarded Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 in recognition of his contributions to American culture.


#9. Sheila Johnson

Net worth: $400 million As May 2009
Source of Wealth: BET, investments

The co-founded Black Entertainment Television  and ex-wife of Robert Johnson. The couple met in college at University of Illinois. The founded BET and later sold the network to Viacom for $3 billion in stock and assumed debt. After their divorce in 2002 (33-year marriage), they shared their fortune. Today she is is the team president, managing partner, and governor of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. Through investment in Lincoln Holdings, she owns stake in NHL’s Washington Capitals, NBA’s Washington Wizards, and WNBA’s Washington Mystics.


#10. Tyler Perry

Net worth: $350 million As of September 2010
Source of Wealth: Actor, author, screenwriter, film director, theater producer, theater director, television director, playwright, film producer, television producer

Perry writes, directs and stars in his work (which has a huge audience with black Americans), owns his two TBS sitcoms (House of Payne and Meet the Browns) and negotiates a cut of his movies’ earnings. He opened his own studio in 2008 and recently purchased a 58-acre estate in the Atlanta area for $7.6 million.Tyler was ranked #17 on Vanity Fair Magazine – 2011 Hollywood’s highest-paid stars.


#10. R. Donahue Peebles

Net worth: $350 million As of May 2009
Source of Wealth: Real estate

Grandson of a hotel doorman. Owns one of the country’s largest African-American real estate development companies; Peebles Corporation’s portfolio includes hotels, apartments and office space in Miami Beach and Washington, D.C. “Don” left Rutgers University in 1979 to become a real estate agent in the District of Columbia. Worked on Capitol Hill as a page and an intern for congressmen John Conyers and Ron Dellums while attending Capitol Page School. Authored two books, The Peebles Principles and The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth.


#12. Berry Gordy, Jr.

Net worth: $325 million As May 2009
Source of Wealth: Motown, Jobete

Record producer, and the founder of the Motown record label, Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his parents to build his own record label. He created Motown Records in Detroit. Went to write hit songs like “Lonely Teardrops,” “I’ll be Satisfied”, and managed talents like Jackson 5, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and more. He is known for running Motown’s record production like an assembly line, emulating Detroit’s Big Three car companies. He sold Motown Records in 1988 for $61 million and later sold Jobete Music Corp. in installments to EMI Music Publishing for more than $300 million combined.


#13. Quintin Primo III

Net worth: $300 million As of May 2009
Source of Wealth: Real estate

He started his career with Citicorp’s real estate lending division. The CEO of Capri Capital Partners has an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and B.S. degree in Finance with Honors from Indiana University. He founded Capri Capital in 1992 with his childhood friend Daryl Carter. Since then he has since seen great success in his career, the company has more than $2.7 billion in real-estate assets under management.


#13. Beyoncé Knowles

Net worth: $300 million As of December 2010
2010 Earnings according to Forbes: $87 million
Source of Wealth:Singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, model, video director

The wife of hip-hop mogul, Jay-Z, she has expanded her business empire beyond music. Endorsement deals with companies ranging from Nintendo to L’Oreal and her growing House of Dereon fashion line bring in millions of dollars. In 2010, Knowles earned $87 million.


#15. Don King

Net worth: $280 million As May 2009
Source of Wealth: Boxing promotion

Boxing promoter, Don King started boxing business while doing fundraising work in 1972 for a struggling Cleveland hospital. He asked Muhammad Ali to attend a charity event, and later convinced Ali and George Foreman to let him promote their 1974 heavyweight championship bout. King has promoted some of the most prominent names in boxing, including Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and more. He is remembered for his promotion of the the greatest boxing fights of all time, “The Rumble in the Jungle” and the “Thrilla in Manila.” His biggest success was Mike Tyson. King promoted Tyson and Evander Holyfield’s infamous 1997 bout which grossed $110 million. Tyson sued King a year later for $100 million accusing King of cheating him out of earnings and was settled for $14 million. He can still be seen at fights donning his signature hairstyle while waving an American flag as he supports his fighters.


#16. Andre “Dr. Dre” Young

Net Worth: $260 million – As of April 2012
Earnings according to Forbes: 2011: $14 million, 2010: $17 million
Source of Wealth:Record producer, Rapper, Entrepreneur

Superproducer/rapper,Dr. Dre may not have put out a new album in the last 10 years,but the rapper and producer has reaped the rewards from his business. He helped launch careers of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent. Expanded wealth with Aftermath record label, Beats headphones and HP laptop line. On 11th August 2011, Dr Dre reportedly sold 50% stake in Beats Electronics, the headphone company to Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC for £191 million ($310m).


#17. Janice Bryant Howroyd & family

Net worth: $250 million As of May 2009
Source of Wealth: Staffing, investments

Fourth of 11 children; father was a foreman at a dye factory, mother stayed home to raise the kids. Janice took job as an assistant at Billboard Magazine; left to start staffing firm Act-1 in 1978 with $967 in savings and $533 in loans from family. Built up client base via word of mouth, cold calls. Today the employment services agency generates annual revenues approaching $1 billion. Donated $10 million to her alma mater, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, in 2004; gave another $10 million to University of Southern California in 2005.


#18. Herman J. Russell

Net worth: $200 million As of May 2009
Source of Wealth: Construction, real estate

The real estate and construction magnet stared building his business at an early age. His father was a plastering contractor on construction projects. Herman bought a vacant Atlanta lot at age 16 and built his first property, a duplex. He went to create the contractor H.J. Russell Plastering Co. in 1953 and later renamed H.J. Russell & Co. Herman once owned stakes in pro basketball’s Atlanta Hawks and hockey’s Atlanta Flames. He is now retired from day-to-day management and focused on philanthropy.


#18. Ulysses Bridgeman, Jr.

Net worth: $200 million  As May 2009
Source of Wealth: Construction, real estate

A Former shooting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks turned his athletic grit into a sprawling fast food empire. Raised in East Chicago, Ind.; father was a steelworker. “Junior” was picked in first round of the 1975 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers; promptly traded to the Bucks with three others for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He bought five Wendy’s franchises to generate income while planning his next career. As of 2009, he owns 161 Wendy’s and 118 Chili’s restaurants. He also have a small stake in Milwaukee soda bottler Black Bear Beverages.

[Source: Forbes]

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  1. Lela Stepanoska

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