Billionaires Who Were Once Dirt Poor
Business Insider: By Jacquelyn Smith
Some of the world’s wealthiest people started out dirt poor.
Here are 16 rags-to-riches stories that remind us through determination, grit, and a bit of luck anyone can overcome their circumstances and achieve extraordinary success.
John Paul DeJoria, the man behind a hair-care empire and Patron Tequila, once lived in a foster home and his car.
Net worth: $3.2 billion
Before the age of 10, DeJoria, a first generation American, sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family. He was eventually sent to live in a foster home and even spent some time in a gang before joining the military.
With a $700 dollar loan, DeJoria created John Paul Mitchell Systems and sold the shampoo door-to-door while living in his car. He later started Patron Tequila, and now invests in other industries.
Forever 21 founder Do Won Chang worked as a janitor, gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop when he first moved to America.
Net worth: $5.5 billion
The husband-and-wife team — Do Won Chang and Jin Sook — behind Forever 21 didn’t always have it so easy. After moving to America from Korea in 1981, Do Won had to work three jobs at the same time to make ends meet. They opened their first clothing store in 1984.
Forever 21 is now an international, 480-store empire that rakes in around $3 billion in sales a year.
Luxury goods mogul Francois Pinault quit high school in 1974 after being bullied for being poor.
Net worth: $14.2 billion
Pinault is now the face of fashion conglomerate Kering (formerly PPR), but at one time, he had to quit high school because he was teased so harshly for being poor. As a businessman, Pinault is known for his “predator” tactic, which includes buying smaller firms for a fraction of the cost when the market crashed. He eventually started PPR, which owns high-end fashion houses including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.
College dropout Sheldon Adelson grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement house.
Net worth: $28.8 billion
Adelson, the son of a cab driver, grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and began selling newspapers at the age of 12, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.
A Forbes profile of the billionaire says years later, after dropping out of the City College of New York, Adelson “built a fortune running vending machines, selling newspaper ads, helping small businesses go public, developing condos and hosting trade shows.”
Adelson lost almost all of his money in the Great Recession, but he earned much of it back in the following years. He now runs Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the world, and is considered the most high-profile political donor in America, says Forbes.