Washington Billionaires
6:00 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Forbes: Washington's Billionaires Get Richer

Forbes magazine released its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans today Wednesday. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has once again topped the list of America's richest people. KUOW's John Ryan reports from Seattle.

Four software moguls from Washington state made Forbes' top 20: Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft billionaires Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen.

Bill Gates is now worth $66 billion. His net worth climbed by more than 10 percent last year, even as his foundation gave away billions to improve global health.

Other Washington billionaires on the Forbes 400 list include wireless tycoon Craig McCaw, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and retired retailer Bruce Nordstrom.

All the Washington state billionaires except one live in the Seattle area. James Jannard founded the Oakley sunglasses company. He now makes his home on Spieden Island in the San Juans. Jannard owns the entire 500 acre island.

If he wants another one, Craig McCaw is selling his island just across the border in Canada's Gulf Islands. To any billionaires listening: James Island can be yours for the low, low price of $75 million.

Forbes magazine says the gap between America's very rich and the merely rich is widening.

As a group, the top 20 billionaires are $73 billion richer than they were a year ago. The net worth of the 400 richest Americans adds up to about $1.7 trillion. That's bigger than the economies of Chile, Finland, Malaysia, Greece and Saudi Arabia -- combined.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio