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The richest person in every state, and how they made their fortunes

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    The richest person in every state, and how they made their fortunes

    Are you curious about the richest person in your state? You’re not alone—whether it’s a hedge-fund billionaire, tech giant, industrial titan, or someone simply born into the right family, the wealthiest people in every state each have their own stories.

    To figure out who's on top of each state’s rich list, Forbes tracks groups of billionaires (or centimillionaires in states with no billionaires) and updates their findings on a yearly basis. Stacker compiled a list of the uber-wealthy using this data, then broke down how each person earned their fortune. This particular list accounts for individuals’ wealth as of May 21, 2018, but keep in mind the tides of fortune are always shifting. Many of the figures can change based on a dip in the stock market alone.

    Who’s the richest person in your state? 

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    Alabama: Jimmy Rane

    Fortune: $950 million

    Source of wealth: Lumber

    Known colloquially as the Yella Fella, Jimmy Rane is a lumber magnate who built his fortune from his family’s small plant into billion-dollar behemoth Great Southern Wood Preserving. As the wealthiest person in Alabama, Rane keeps his money close to home. He’s revitalized his hometown, and supports the University of Alabama by offering scholarships through The Jimmy Rane Foundation.

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    Alaska: Leonard Hyde, Jonathan Rubini & families

    Fortune: $310 million each

    Source of wealth: Real estate

    Real estate tycoons Leonard Hyde and Jonathan Rubini began amassing their fortunes by buying up Alaskan properties during economic downturns. Today, the partners head JL Properties, which owns the tallest skyline in Anchorage, massive residential units, and much more.

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    Arizona: Mark Shoen

    Fortune: $3 billion

    Source of wealth: U-Haul

    A beneficiary of the birth lottery, Mark Shoen is heir to the U-Haul business founded in 1945 by his parents L.S. and Anna Mary Shoen. Though the business has encountered tragedy throughout its history, the company remains family-owned and is run by Mark’s brother Joe Shoen. Mark is a co-owner of AMERCO, a subsidiary of U-Haul, and one of the largest private self-storage operations in America.

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    Arkansas: Jim Walton

    Fortune: $40.3 billion

    Source of wealth: Walmart

    According to Forbes, Jim Walton is the 11th-wealthiest person in America, and is one of many heirs to the Walmart fortune that was amassed by his father, Sam Walton. Jim Walton lives in Bentonville, Arkansas, home to the Walmart world headquarters, and runs the family’s Arvest Bank which has assets listed at $16 billion.

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    California: Mark Zuckerberg

    Fortune: $74 billion

    Source of wealth: Facebook

    As the creator of Facebook, the world’s largest social network, Mark Zuckerberg isn’t just the wealthiest Californian, but one of the five wealthiest Americans (stock price dependent). Zuckerberg hasn’t been shy about giving his money away. He's one of the many ultra-rich to promise to donate half his wealth to The Giving Pledge.

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    Colorado: Philip Anschutz

    Fortune: $12.7 billion

    Source of wealth: Investments

    Philip Anschutz is one of the most diversified billionaires on this list, with businesses ranging from sports and movies to oil and real estate. Anschutz’s father was an oil tycoon, giving him a leg-up, but Phillip has far surpassed anything his family ever did. Today, Anschutz owns sports teams, an entertainment conglomerate, and is one of the biggest individual landowners in the United States. Anschutz has also given away more than $2 billion to charity.

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    Connecticut: Ray Dalio

    Fortune: $17.4 billion

    Source of wealth: Hedge funds

    After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1975, Ray Dalio started Bridgewater Associates, which has since become the largest hedge fund in the world with an estimate $160 billion under management. Dalio is also actively philanthropic—his family has given more than $1.3 billion via the Dalio Foundation, and he's promised to give away half his wealth through The Giving Pledge.

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    Delaware: Robert Gore, Elizabeth Snyder

    Fortune: $750 million each

    Source of wealth: Gore-Tex

    Siblings Robert Gore and Elizabeth Snyder are co-owners of W.L. Gore & Associates, famous for the invention of Gore-Tex. The waterproof fabric is used in thousands of products around the world. Along with the company’s more than 7,000 patents, this versatile material has helped the family amass its immense fortune.

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    Florida: Thomas Peterffy

    Fortune: $25.7 billion

    Source of wealth: Discount brokerage

    A self-made billionaire, Thomas Peterffy is a Hungarian immigrant who came to America at the age of 21 with no money. He earned his fortune by creating Discount Brokerage, a digital trading platform used by brokers and investors around the world. One of Peterffy’s biggest causes is railing against socialism, and he's spent millions in political ads.

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    Georgia: Jim Kennedy

    Fortune: $9 billion

    Source of wealth: Media

    Jim Kennedy inherited his 25% stake in Cox Enterprises—owners of TV and radio stations, newspapers, and digital services—from his mother, Barbara Cox Anthony. Kennedy had already served as CEO of the mega-media company from 1988-2008, raising its revenues from $1.8 billion to $15.4 billion. Kennedy is involved in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, including education, healthcare, and sustainability causes.

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    Hawaii: Pierre Omidyar

    Fortune: $10.6 billion

    Source of wealth: eBay

    If you ever wondered where the fees go when you bid for things on eBay, it’s into the pockets of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Since its founding, Omidyar has pulled back from the company (though he still sits on its board), launching other ventures like First Look Media and the Press Freedom Defense Fund, which supports journalists in legal battles.

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    Idaho: Frank van der Sloot

    Fortune: $3.4 billion

    Source of wealth: Nutrition and wellness

    Idaho native Frank van der Sloot is a self-made billionaire who turned his company Melaleuca into a product marketing powerhouse. The company sells wellness products, in addition to cleaning supplies and cosmetics. Frank van der Sloot is also a major Republican political donor, and served twice as finance co-chair for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

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    Illinois: Ken Griffin

    Fortune: $9 billion

    Source of wealth: Hedge funds

    The second hedge fund billionaire on the list, Ken Griffin runs Citadel, which manages more than $30 billion. Griffin got his start making trades from his Harvard dormitory, where he even put a satellite dish on the roof to get real-time quotes. Today, Griffin is considered an active philanthropist, and gives to a range of causes in his native Illinois.

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    Indiana: Carl Cook

    Fortune: $8.2 billion

    Source of wealth: Medical devices

    Carl Cook is CEO of Cook Group, a medical device manufacturer started by Cook’s parents in 1963. Cook inherited the bulk of the family fortune in stock transfers over a fifteen-year period, avoiding estate taxes. Cook is famously private, owing in part to his wife's 1989 kidnapping.

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    Iowa: Harry Stine

    Fortune: $3.2 billion

    Source of wealth: Agriculture

    Agriculture billionaire Harry Stine was born and raised on a farm, so it's little surprise that he made his fortune selling seeds. Stine Seed is one of the largest independent producers of genetically modified seeds, sold to multinational corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta. Stine is also active in philanthropy, and has promised to give away at least half of his money through The Giving Pledge.

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    Kansas: Charles Koch

    Fortune: $51.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Koch Industries

    Koch Industries is America’s second-largest private company (Cargill is #1), and Charles Koch has served as chairman and CEO since 1967. The company was started by Koch’s father, and deals heavily in oil, gas, ranching, and finance, among other industries. Koch is also involved in politics and has funded a number of think tanks, including The Heritage Foundation and The Cato Institute.

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    Kentucky: B. Wayne Hughes

    Fortune: $2.7 billion

    Source of wealth: Self storage

    As the founder of Public Storage, B. Wayne Hughes has been helping people hoard their belongings since 1972—and has made an absolute fortune. Beyond storage, Hughes is also a large real estate investor, and formed American Homes 4 Rent with more than 50,000 properties across the country.

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    Louisiana: Gayle Benson

    Fortune: $2.7 billion

    Source of wealth: New Orleans Saints

    Gayle Benson is the wife of the late Tom Benson, who made his money in car dealerships and banking. Gayle Benson inherited the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans when her husband died in 2018. The Bensons are known for their extraordinary charity work, giving to Catholic causes as well as establishing the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center in Jefferson, Louisiana.

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    Maine: Susan Alfond

    Fortune: $1.6 billion

    Source of wealth: Shoes

    Shoe heiress Susan Alfond inherited her money from father Harold Alfond, who started the Dexter Shoe Company in 1958. When Alfond sold the company to Warren Buffet in exchange for Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1993, the family fortunes increased exponentially.

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    Maryland: Ted Lerner & family

    Fortune: $5.1 billion

    Source of wealth: Real estate

    Ted Lerner owns more than 20 million square feet consisting of hotels, commercial and retail space, and apartments. The Lerner family also owns the Washington Nationals, as well as shares of of the Washington Wizards, and the Washington Capitals. Additionally, they're owners of Maryland's White Flint Mall. The family gives to a variety of causes throughout education, health and human services, arts and culture, and Jewish organizations.

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    Massachusetts: Abigail Johnson

    Fortune: $16.9 billion

    Source of wealth: Money management

    Even though Abigail Johnson is the granddaughter of Fidelity founder Edward C. Johnson II, no one can say she didn’t pay her dues. Johnson earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and started working at the family company in 1988. As CEO, she manages assets valued in the trillions. Johnson is also a trustee of the Fidelity Foundation, which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to non-profits around the country.

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    Michigan: Daniel Gilbert

    Fortune: $6.3 billion

    Source of wealth: Quicken Loans

    Ohioans might be surprised to see Daniel Gilbert representing Michigan, considering that he owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilbert made his money from Quicken Loans, now America’s largest mortgage lender, with headquarters in Detroit. Gilbert is also known for helping revitalize downtown Detroit by investing billions of dollars.

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    Minnesota: Glen Taylor

    Fortune: $2.8 billion

    Source of wealth: Printing

    Glen Taylor is a self-made billionaire who turned a small wedding business into a printing empire with billions of dollars in sales. Born and raised in Minnesota, Taylor is also the owner of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and The Minneapolis Star Tribune, the state's largest newspaper. Taylor is also active in charity, and has donated generously to Minnesota State University.

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    Mississippi: James and Thomas Duff

    Fortune: $1.2 billion each

    Source of wealth: Diversified

    James and Thomas Duff inherited Southern Tire Mart from their father and turned their fortunes into multi-billion-dollar investment company Duff Capital Investors. Today, the brother’s diversified holdings include 18 companies with more than 10,000 employees. The Duffs support The University of Southern Mississippi with scholarship funds and sports equipment.

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    Missouri: Pauline MacMillan Keinath

    Fortune: $7.2 billion

    Source of wealth: Cargill

    Cargill is the largest private company in the United States, and Pauline MacMillan Keinath is its largest shareholder. The company was started by her great-grandfather in 1865, and is now a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate focused on food, agriculture, nutrition, and risk management.

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    Montana: Dennis Washington

    Fortune: $5.9 billion

    Source of wealth: Construction and mining

    The wealthiest man in Montana is also the state's most charitable. Dennis Washington is the head of Washington Companies, which owns mines, railroads, and shipping containers. The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has given away hundreds of millions of dollars, including hundreds of scholarships to students in Montana.

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    Nebraska: Warren Buffett

    Fortune: $85 billion

    Source of wealth: Berkshire Hathaway

    Warren Buffet is affectionately known as the "Oracle of Omaha," and for good reason. He’s one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Buffet is head of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company he founded, which owns dozens of other companies. Buffet, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, started The Giving Pledge, which challenges billionaires to give away half their assets in order to improve the world. Buffet, however, has vowed to give away 99% of his fortune.

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    Nevada: Sheldon Adelson

    Fortune: $42.8 billion

    Source of wealth: Casinos

    Though Sheldon Adelson is known as a casino magnate, he didn’t actually break into that business until later in life. Adelson is a serial entrepreneur who made his first mega-fortune with COMDEX, the computer trade show, selling it for hundreds of millions of dollars. Adelson’s casino empire is worth billions, and he’s used much of his wealth to support Jewish cultural endeavors and political causes.

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    New Hampshire: Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli

    Fortune: $1.1 billion

    Source of wealth: Consumer goods

    Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli inherited her money from Luxembourg-based company JAB. Though she sold her stake in 2003, it’s easy to understand why JAB is such a juggernaut. The company currently owns everything from Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Krispy Kreme to Panera Bread and Dr. Pepper. Reimann-Ciardelli directs a lot of her money through the Emily Landecker Foundation she helped establish, which donates to a variety of scientific institutions.

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    New Jersey: John Overdeck

    Fortune: $5.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Hedge funds

    Making the bulk of his money in the hedge-fund space, John Overdeck is a technical wizard who combined his math skills with machine learning to help predict market forces. It obviously worked (to the tune of $5.5 billion), but Overdeck and wife Laura spend a great deal of their money and time on charitable causes. Through the Overdeck Family Foundation, the couple has donated more than $145 million to children’s educational causes.

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    New Mexico: Mack C. Chase

    Fortune: $700 million

    Source of wealth: Oil

    Mack C. Chase is a self-made oil tycoon who got his start tapping wells in Texas and New Mexico. Chase is now the head of Mack Energy Corp. which drills for and produces oil and gas. Chase also started the Chase Foundation, a non-profit that helps communities in New Mexico by providing grants to charitable organizations.

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    New York: David Koch

    Fortune: $51.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Koch industries

    Like his brother Charles, David Koch is a majority shareholder in the privately held Koch Industries. When it comes to philanthropy, Koch is a large patron of the arts and sponsored the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. Koch is also a major donor to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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    North Carolina: James Goodnight

    Fortune: $9.9 billion

    Source of wealth: Software

    James Goodnight became the wealthiest man in North Carolina by co-founding software company SAS in 1976. Today, the company has more than 14,000 employees, and its software is used in 145 countries and 83,0000 businesses, generating more than $3 billion a year in revenue. Goodnight and SAS co-founder John Sall also started Cary Academy, a college preparatory school in North Carolina.

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    North Dakota: Gary Tharaldson

    Fortune: $900 million

    Source of wealth: Hotels

    Gary Tharaldson is as self-made as they come. Growing up on a farm in rural North Dakota, Tharaldson made his money by buying and operating hundreds of motels and hotels. The wealth part came from selling a huge chunk of his portfolio to Goldman Sachs for more than a billion dollars.

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    Ohio: Les Wexner & family

    Fortune: $5.4 billion

    Source of wealth: Retail

    Les Wexner may not a household name outside of Ohio, but every facet of his empire is. Wexner founded L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. Wexner got his start in retail in 1963, when he opened The Limited. He bought Victoria’s Secret in 1982 for a million dollars. Notoriously charitable, Wexner and wife Abigail started The Wexner Foundation, which has given away hundreds of millions of dollars to a variety of Jewish organizations, as well as state institutions like Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center.

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    Oklahoma: Harold Hamm & family

    Fortune: $19.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Oil and gas

    Harold Hamm had been in the oil business for years when he struck black gold by transforming the industry with the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. Hamm and his family have donated millions of dollars to the University of Oklahoma, which built the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.

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    Oregon: Phil Knight & family

    Fortune: $30.7 billion

    Source of wealth: Nike

    Phil Knight created Nike with his college track coach, and started selling shoes out of the trunk of his car at track meets. Today, Nike has revenues of $34 billion, easily making Knight the wealthiest man in Oregon. Beyond shoes, Knight and wife Penny are known for their charity work, and have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Oregon and Stanford.  

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    Pennsylvania: Victoria Mars

    Fortune: $6 billion

    Source of wealth: Candy and pet food

    An heiress to the Mars Inc. fortune (Pedigree, Whiskas, M&M’s, Twix, Skittles, Orbit gum, Uncle Ben’s, Bounty, Snickers, and others.), Victoria Mars became a multi-billionaire when her father Forrest Mars Jr. left her 8% of the sixth-largest private company in America. As chairman of the board of directors at Salzburg Global Seminar, Mars runs an organization that helps with sustainable global development.

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    Rhode Island: Jonathan Nelson

    Fortune: $1.8 billion

    Source of wealth: Private equity

    A Harvard Business School graduate, Jonathan Nelson is the CEO of Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm with $42 billion under management. Nelson started the firm in 1989, and has invested in hundreds of companies around the world. Part of The Giving Pledge, Nelson has promised to give away at least half of his money to charity, and has already donated millions of dollars to a variety of causes and institutions.

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    South Carolina: Anita Zucker

    Fortune: $2.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Chemicals

    Anita Zucker is CEO of InterTech Group, a private chemicals manufacturer that was started by her late husband Jerry Zucker in 1982. Zucker’s company also deals in aerospace, real estate, financial services, and other industries. Through the Jerry and Anita Zucker Family Foundation, the Zuckers have given away millions to organizations in South Carolina.

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    South Dakota: T. Denny Sanford

    Fortune: $2.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Banking and credit cards

    This banking billionaire has vowed to die broke by giving away all his money to charitable causes. T. Denny Sanford made his fortune from First Premier Bank, notorious for offering credit cards to high-risk borrowers. Sanford is also a member of The Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of his money, of which he’s already donated more than $1 billion.

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    Tennessee: Thomas Frist Jr & family

    Fortune: $9.7 billion

    Source of wealth: Hospitals

    Thomas Frist Jr. is a former surgeon and founder of Hospital Corp. of America. The company operates nearly 200 hospitals in the U.S. and England, and employs almost 250,000 people. In 2017 alone, the company donated $32 million to charitable organizations. Frist is also chairman of The Frist Foundation, which invests in non-profit organizations in Nashville.

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    Texas: Alice Walton

    Fortune: $40 billion

    Source of wealth: Walmart

    The second Walton on the list, Alice Walton, like her brother Jim, is an heir to the vast Walmart fortune created by their father. As the only daughter of Sam Walton, Alice has focused her wealth on the arts, with a personal collection valued in the hundreds of millions. She opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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    Utah: Gail Miller

    Fortune: $1.4 billion

    Source of wealth: Utah Jazz and car dealers

    Gail Miller and late husband Larry are Utah staples who amassed their wealth by turning a single car dealership into an empire. Miller is also the owner of the Utah Jazz, purchased in 1986. The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation was established in 2007, and gives to non-profit organizations like the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the American Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society.

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    Vermont: John Abele

    Fortune: $630 million

    Source of wealth: Healthcare

    After co-founding Boston Scientific in 1979, John Abele made his first billion when he took the company public in 1992. Since then, Abele has dedicated his life to giving his fortune away, largely through the Argosy Foundation, which donates to the arts, educational causes, environment sustainability, and more.

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    Virginia: Jacqueline Mars

    Fortune: $23.8 billion

    Source of wealth: Candy and pet food

    Jacqueline Mars’ grandfather created Mars, Inc. in 1911. Mars currently owns a third of the privately held company, and is very well-known for her charitable work. The Mars Foundation gives to environmental, animal rights, and other conservation groups, while Mars has personally donated millions to the arts and other causes.

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    Washington: Jeff Bezos

    Fortune: $132 billion

    Source of wealth: Amazon

    Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, isn’t just the wealthiest person in Washington, he’s the richest man in the world. Bezos’ fortune is directly tied to Amazon’s stock price, but the company ha  revenues in the $200 billion range. No stranger to giving money away, Bezos recently launched a $2 billion fund to support homeless and education causes.

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    West Virginia: Jim Justice II

    Fortune: $1.9 billion

    Source of wealth: Coal

    Jim Justice II is governor of West Virginia, but he didn’t make his fortune in politics. Justice inherited a coal business from his father, and is a major owner of coal mines across the country. Justice is also very charitable and has given millions to the Boy Scouts of America, the Cleveland Clinic, and Marshall University.

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    Wisconsin: John Menard Jr

    Fortune: $10.5 billion

    Source of wealth: Home improvement

    The wealthiest man in Wisconsin is John Menard Jr., founder of Menard’s home improvement stores. There are more than 300 Menards locations around the country, and Menard himself still runs the entire business. As for charity, one of Menard’s biggest contributions was a $15 million gift to Luther Midelfort Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

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    Wyoming: John Mars

    Fortune: $23.8 billion

    Source of wealth: Candy and pet food

    Owner of one-third of the Mars candy and pet food empire, John Mars (like his siblings) inherited his fortune from his father when he died in 1999. As part of The Mars Foundation, John Mars helps direct money to animal and environmental groups. He and his wife are also big supporters of the Smithsonian.

     

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