Aside from being extremely wealthy, many of the world’s 2,153 billionaires have some strange things in common — from their marital status to their astrological sign. If you’re dreaming of becoming a billionaire and have some of these fruitful traits, your big financial break might be written in the stars.
Eighty-seven percent of the world’s richest people are married, according to a GoCompare study that analyzed the Forbes list of the 100 richest people from 1996 to 2016. That includes Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who runs a charitable foundation with his wife, Melinda, and investment guru Warren Buffett, who married his second wife, Astrid Menks, in 2006.
They Have Large Families
Most billionaires have three or more children, the GoCompare analysis found. Among them, 5% had no children, 9% had one child, 23% had two children, 25% had three children, 17% had four children and 21% had five or more. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has four children, and Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of the luxury goods empire LVMH, has five.
Aquarius is the most popular astrological sign among billionaires, the GoCompare analysis found, with 12.5% of the Forbes Top 100 from 1996 to 2015 born between Jan. 20 and Feb. 18. Billionaire Aquariuses include Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helu, who was born Jan. 28, 1940, and Michael Bloomberg, who was born Feb. 14, 1942.
They're Less Likely To Wear Glasses Than the General Population
As of 2016, roughly 65% of the U.S. general population wore glasses, but only about 40% of billionaires did, according to the GoCompare analysis. Of the 10 richest people in the world, only two typically wear glasses: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
They're More Likely To Be Bald
As of 2016, roughly 23% of the U.S. male population was affected by male pattern baldness, but among male billionaires, about 24% are bald, the GoCompare analysis found. This is true of the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, who sports a completely shaved head. Amancio Ortega, the co-founder of the fashion empire that includes Zara and the sixth-richest person in the world, also is bald.
They Drive Inexpensive Cars
Not all billionaires are cruising around in fancy sports cars. Jeff Bezos has a Honda Accord, Mark Zuckerberg has a Honda Fit and Larry Page has a Toyota Prius, according to GoCompare.
They Had Normal First Jobs
Among self-made billionaires, the path to success is often long and winding — and many start at the bottom of the totem pole before making their way to the top. Some of the most successful people had normal first jobs, including Warren Buffett, who delivered newspapers, and Jeff Bezos, who worked as a grill operator at McDonald’s.
They're Highly Educated
Although we often hear about the college dropout success stories, such as Apple founder Steve Jobs and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, dropping out of school definitely is the exception and not the rule. Only 14% of billionaires are college dropouts or never attended college, the GoCompare analysis found. The majority — 56% — have a bachelor’s degree, 23% have a master’s and 7% have a doctorate.
One of the richest men in the world, Michael Bloomberg, has a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Alphabet CEO Larry Page also has two degrees — a bachelor’s degree from Michigan and a master’s degree from Stanford.
However, Tech Entrepreneurs Are More Likely to Never Have Completed College
Tech entrepreneurs might be more likely than billionaires in other sectors to lack a college degree. In addition to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, other successful tech entrepreneurs who never got their college degree include Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Dell’s Michael Dell, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Gateway’s Theodore Waitt, Forbes reported.
And Those Who Made Their Fortune in Finance Are More Likely To Have Graduate Degrees
While the billionaires who work in tech might not have a degree, those in the financial sector are likely to have multiple degrees. According to Forbes’ analysis, more than 55% of billionaires who made their fortunes from finance have graduate degrees. Jim Simons, who is the highest-earning hedge fund manager of 2019, according to Forbes, has a doctorate from UC Berkeley, and Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, Bridgewater Associates, has an MBA from Harvard.
They Have MBAs From 1 of 3 Ivy League Schools
Dalio is hardly the only billionaire with a Harvard MBA. Of the billionaires with MBAs, Forbes found that nearly 90% got their degrees at one of three Ivy League schools: Harvard, Columbia or the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Abigail Johnson, the CEO of Fidelity Investments, got her MBA at Harvard, as did Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group.
Their Parents Are Good at Math
Among American billionaires, the most common professions of their parents include engineer, accountant and small-business owner, a Forbes analysis of its 2009 world billionaires list found. Inherited math skills could certainly have contributed to their immense success.
They Worked at Goldman Sachs
As of 2009, 11 billionaires on Forbes’ world’s billionaires list worked at Goldman Sachs. These extremely wealthy individuals include Edward Lampert, Daniel Och, Tom Steyer and Richard Perry.
They Worked at the Bass Brothers Enterprises
Goldman Sachs isn’t the only company boasting billionaire employees. Private equity masters David Bonderman, Nicolas Berggruen and Jim Coulter, real estate mogul Tom Barrack, the late investor Richard Rainwater and hedge fund manager Marc Lasry all worked at Bass Brothers Enterprises in the 1980s, Forbes reported.
They've Had Major Failures
Some billionaires have credited failing early on in their careers with motivating them to be ultra-successful later on. For example, pharmaceutical mogul R.J. Kirk failed miserably with his first business venture, but he told Forbes that “failure early on is a necessary condition for success.” And hedge fund manager Phil Falcone botched a company buyout in the early 1990s, but the experience taught him “several valuable lessons that have had a profound impact upon my success,” he said during a congressional hearing, Forbes reported.
They Were Members of Skull and Bones
Former and current billionaires, including investor Edward Lampert, Blackstone co-founder Steven Schwarzman and FedEx founder Frederick Smith, all were members of Yale’s secret society Skull and Bones, Forbes reported.
They Live In New York
New York has more billionaire inhabitants than any other city, with 105 billionaires living in the Big Apple as of 2018, Wealth-X’s 2019 Billionaire Census found. Hong Kong and San Francisco have the second- and third-most billionaires, respectively.
Billionaires who reside in New York include Michael Bloomberg, the city’s former mayor, as well as investor Carl Icahn and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
They Like To Give Back
Philanthropy is the leading passion or hobby among the ultra-rich, Wealth-X found. As of a 2018 Forbes study, Warren Buffett was the biggest giver in America, donating $2.8 billion to charitable causes in 2017. His largest contribution for that year was a $2 billion donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, founded by his fellow philanthropic billionaire. The Gateses had given over $35 billion to their nonprofit as of 2018, and their foundation is the biggest private charitable organization in the world.
Gates and Buffett are among the billionaire philanthropists who signed The Giving Pledge, which is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest people to donate most of their wealth. Other signers include Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
Education Is the Cause They're Most Passionate About
Nearly 80% of billionaires who donated to philanthropic causes gave their funds to educational organizations. The philanthropic cause next on the list among billionaires is social services, followed by arts and culture, Wealth-X reported.
They're Over 50
Good things really do come to those who wait. Only 10.4% of billionaires are under 50 — 52.7% are between 50 and 70, and 39.6% are over 70, Wealth-X found. The average age of billionaires is 65.7. Among the 10 wealthiest people in the world, only two — Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page — are under 50.
The billionaire club is still a boys’ club — 88.3% of the world’s billionaires are men, Wealth-X reported. None of the 10 richest people in the world are women, but two made it into the top 20: Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, who is the granddaughter of L’Oreal’s founder, and Alice Walton, who is the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
Golf Is Their Favorite Sport
Favorite sports — to play and observe — among billionaires are golf, football/soccer, skiing, tennis and basketball, Wealth-X found. Golf is the most popular sport among those whose net worth ranges from $1 billion to $5 billion, and football/soccer is the most popular sport among those whose net worth is over $5 billion.
Of the approximately 2,000 billionaires in the world, 55.8% are self-made. Only 13.3% of billionaires are wealthy only by inheritance, Wealth-X reported. Some of the most successful people in the world really came from nothing, including Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who was born to a single teen mother, and Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in poverty and overcame childhood abuse to become the media mogul she is now.
The United States has more billionaires than any other country with 705, Wealth-X reported. China is a distant second with 285 billionaires. The three richest people in the world — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — are all American.
They Got Their Wealth Through Banking and Finance
Banking and finance is the primary industry for 20.7% of billionaires, Wealth-X reported. The prominent billionaires who amassed their wealth in this industry include Warren Buffett, who is one of the most successful investors of all time; Joseph Safra, whose family made its wealth through banking in Syria; and Carl Icahn, the founder of Icahn Capital Management.
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About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.