Lighter, News

The 20 Richest People In The United States

Dollar sign; image: Svilen.milev.
Image: Svilen.milev.

Every year, Forbes magazine publishes a list of the 20 richest people in the United States.

This year, the 20 richest people are even richer than last year’s list. Together, they own $52 billion more than the top 20 did in 2010.

At the #20 spot on the list is the Mars family, the owners of the world’s largest candy company. Mars also makes Uncle Ben’s rice and Whiskas cat food. The three family members have more than $13 billion each.

At #15 are the co-founders of Google (the company that owns the Internet search engine), Sergey Brin and Larry Page. They have $16 billion each.

At #14 on the list is Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook and still owns a quarter of the company. He was the subject of last year’s movie The Social Network. Zuckerberg has more than $17.5 billion. He is often in the news. Recently, for instance, he announced that he would only eat meat he kills himself (in order to ensure he has a better understanding of, and connection to, the food he eats).

At #12 is the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, worth $19.5 billion.

At #11 are the three living children of the man who founded Wal-Mart. They are S. Robson Walton, Alice Walton and Jim Walton, worth more than $20 billion each.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates
Microsoft founder Bill Gates tops the Forbes list; image: Microsoft

Who is the richest person on Forbes’s list of the top 20 wealthiest Americans? In the number-one spot is the founder of computer company Microsoft, Bill Gates. He has more than $59 billion. That’s $3 million more than he had last year.

He is also said to be the person who gives away the most money in the world. He has given away more than $28 billion to charities. He says his main goal is to help find a cure for polio, which still exists in four countries and costs countries around the world more than $1 billion a year in vaccinations (Gates’s charity pays for $200 million of that).

Together, the top 20 richest people in the United States have more than $459 billion.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Bill Gates, the richest person in the United States, donates millions of dollars to charities and important causes every year.  Many other wealthy people and companies also donate large amounts of money every year.
If you were in a position where you had a lot of money, would you donate any of that money?  Why or why not?  If you chose to make a donation, which charity or cause would you choose?   Why is this specific issue important to you?

Reading Prompt
Why do you think Forbes magazine publishes this information every year?  Why do you think the general public would be interested in these statistics?  How do you think the people in the article feel about having their financial information available to the public?

Make judgments and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Reading numbers out loud
Numbers are read out loud in different ways depending on how they are written.
For instance, $459 billion is read like: “four hundred and fifty-nine billion dollars.” Even though the dollar sign is at the beginning, you don’t say it first.
For a number like $17.5 billion, you can say “seventeen point five billion dollars” or “seventeen-and-a-half billion dollars,” which is the same thing.
#12 is read like: “number twelve.”

Read the following numbers out loud:
1. $5.50
2. #1
3. 3.5
4. $4,000,100