Maybe you admire them. Maybe you’re jealous of them. Deep down, you might even hate them because they’re rich. But there’s no denying that there is a fascination with billionaires. Why else would media outlets such as Forbes and Bloomberg bother to rank the world’s billionaires?
To see how Americans feel about some of the most well-known billionaires, GOBankingRates polled 500 adults. The survey sought to find out which one is America’s favorite and how people think billionaires stack up when it comes to investing savvy, charitable giving and other criteria.
Click through to find out what Americans think about some of the world’s richest billionaires.
Oprah Winfrey Is America’s Favorite Billionaire
The survey asked respondents to choose their favorite billionaire among the following seven people: Media executive Oprah Winfrey, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
The favorite: 32 percent of respondents said they admire Oprah the most. The media mogul was the first black woman to become a billionaire and is now worth billions.
Gates came in a close second in the survey, with 28 percent of respondents saying he was their favorite billionaire. Buffett ranked third; Musk ranked fourth; Zuckerberg ranked fifth; Bezos ranked sixth; and Ellison ranked seventh.
Warren Buffett More Popular Among Older Americans
It’s not surprising that 87-year-old Warren Buffett – the oldest billionaire on the list – is more popular among older Americans. The survey found that 34 percent of adults 65 and older said the Oracle of Omaha is their favorite billionaire.
Buffett was the least popular among millennials, who were more likely to name Oprah and Gates as their favorite billionaires. Generation Xers also were more likely to name Oprah as their favorite.
Women Favor Oprah Winfrey, Men Favor Bill Gates
Women’s favorite billionaire, by far, is Oprah. The survey found that 44 percent of women said they admire Oprah most. Men, on the other hand, were more likely to say they admire Gates — with 32 percent saying the Microsoft founder is their favorite billionaire.
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Americans Think Oprah Winfrey Is the Most Charitable Billionaire
When asked which billionaire is the most charitable, 43 percent of respondents chose Oprah. Oprah shares her wealth by giving to a variety of causes and funding The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
However, she’s not actually the most charitable billionaire. That title belongs to another billionaire: Buffett.
Men, Older Adults More Likely to Think Bill Gates Is Most Charitable
The survey found that men are more likely to think that Gates is the most charitable billionaire — with 45 percent choosing him. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to choose Oprah.
Adults 65 and older also were more likely to names Gates as the most charitable. He was the top choice for 43 percent of respondents in this age group. All other age groups were more likely to name Oprah.
Gates is actually the second-most charitable billionaire, CNBC reported. However, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s largest private charitable foundation, according to Forbes.
Americans Consider Bill Gates the Best Investor
Although Buffett is known as one of the most successful investors, the survey found that Americans are more likely to consider Gates to be the best investor — with 34 percent choosing him. However, Buffett came in a close second, with 31 percent of respondents saying he was the best investor.
Older Adults Think Warren Buffett Is the Best Investor
Older adults are much more likely than younger generations to think that Buffett is the best billionaire investor. According to the survey, 49 percent of adults 65 and older and 43 percent of adults 55 to 64 named Buffett as the best.
Millennials, on the other hand, were more likely than older generations to say that Gates is the best investor.
Women Think Bill Gates Is the Best Investor, Men Think It’s Warren Buffett
The survey found that women are more likely to think that Gates is the best investor, while men are more likely to think the honor belongs to Buffett. According to the survey, 40 percent of women named Gates as the best compared with 26 percent of men. And 44 percent of men said Buffett is the top investor versus 22 percent of women.
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1 in 3 Americans Think Oprah Winfrey Is Mostly a Self-Made Billionaire
When asked which billionaire is mostly self-made, nearly one-third of respondents chose Oprah. It’s no surprise that respondents were more likely to pick Oprah than other billionaires.
Oprah’s rags-to-riches story is well-known. The media mogul grew up poor, but leveraged her popularity as a talk show host to create a media empire worth billions.
Millennials More Likely to Think Mark Zuckerberg Is Self-Made
Millennials were more likely than any other age group to say that Zuckerberg is the billionaire who is mostly self-made — with 31 percent of respondents ages 25 to 34 choosing him.
Zuckerberg became a self-made billionaire by creating Facebook — originally thefacebook.com — while a student at Harvard and grew it into the world’s largest social media network.
Men More Likely to Think Bill Gates Is Self-Made
Women were more likely to name Oprah as the most self-made billionaire — with 40 percent picking her. Men, on the other hand, were more likely to say that Gates is mostly self-made. According to the survey, 24 percent of men chose Gates. However, 22 percent of men chose Buffett and 21 percent chose Zuckerberg.
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Oprah Winfrey Is the Billionaire Americans Think Should Run for President
Which billionaire are Americans most likely to want to see run for president? Oprah. She came out strongly ahead, with 41 percent of the respondents choosing her.
However, 24 percent said Gates should run for the top office in the nation, and Buffett and Musk were tied at 11 percent. It’s unknown if any of these billionaires will actually join the list of 2020 presidential candidate hopefuls, though.
Older Adults Favor Bill Gates for President
Although millennials and Gen Xers overwhelmingly favor an Oprah bid for the presidency, older adults are more likely to favor Gates. Adults 65 and older were the only age group to be more likely to pick Gates than Oprah — with 33 percent saying the Microsoft founder should run for president.
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Women Favor Oprah Winfrey, Men Favor Bill Gates for President
The survey found that women are much more likely than men to want Oprah to run for president – 53 percent versus 26 percent. Men were slightly more likely to opt for Gates, with 28 percent saying that he should run for president. Bezos and Ellison got the fewest “votes” among both women and men.
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More on Billionaires:
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- Fast Facts About Tony Robbins and His $500M Fortune
Methodology: GOBankingRates asked the following questions to 500 people: 1) Of the following well-known billionaires, which billionaire do you admire most and/or which one is your favorite? 2) Which billionaire do you think is the most charitable? 3) Which billionaire do you think is the best investor? 4) Which billionaire do you think is mostly “self made”? 5) Which billionaire do you think should run for president? 6) Why do you admire [billionaire]? Responses were collected through a Survata online survey from July 26, 2018, to Aug. 2, 2018.
About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances.
U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more.
She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.