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Your Odds of Becoming a Billionaire

March 16, 2022

Imagine having $1,000,000. It’s a pretty hefty amount of money, even in this day and age. Now double it. And again. Again. And… OK, double it eight times in total. Now you have a billion dollars. While the world would likely be a better place if billionaires didn’t exist, the fact is they do. If you fancied joining them, just what are your odds of becoming a billionaire?

Now, just because of where you’re reading this article, let’s be clear: you are not going to become a billionaire by playing online casino games. Only a handful of very lucky people have even managed to become millionaires that way, and fewer still have stayed wealthy after the fact. Playing casino games to try and make money rather than simply enjoy the game is a bad idea. Check out our Responsible Gaming page for more information.

What are your odds of becoming a billionaire?

Low. Obviously.

There are 2,755 known billionaires in the world at the end of 2021 and a global population approaching 8 billion. If you could put every human’s name in a hat, the chances of randomly drawing the name of a billionaire are approximately 2,867,513/1. That’s about fifty times more likely than winning the EuroMillions top jackpot, for context.

However, if you restrict your search to just North America and Europe, your odds improve significantly. These two countries have almost half of the world’s billionaires between them despite making up just under 10% of the global population. By simply being born in the right continents you cut your odds of being a billionaire down to 505,779/1.

However, short of being born into the family of a mega-business owner or a royal family, chances are you’re going to have to acquire that wealth rather than inherit it.

How do you become a billionaire?

Well, you need to have a net worth of over $1,000,000,000 for starters.

With the exception of royalty and dictators, the majority of the world’s billionaires achieved their status by founding and running successful companies. At the end of 2021, the top five richest people in the world were:

  1. Jeff Bezos (Amazon): $177 billion
  2. Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX): $151 billion
  3. Bernard Arnault (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton): $150 billion
  4. Bill Gates (Microsoft): $124 billion
  5. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook): $97 billion

According to Y Combinator, which provides seed funding to hopeful start-ups, approximately 3-5% of companies are strong enough to receive funding. Of these, just 7% will succeed beyond their first couple of years.

With most start-ups never getting off the ground, and those that do crashing and burning, your overall odds of success are less than 0.5% as a business owner. Your odds of being successful enough to earn a spot on the Forbes Rich List? Much, much lower.

Busting the billionaire myth

It’s important to remember that most billionaires did not have a rags-to-riches story. Rather, most have had a riches-to-greater-riches story. As with many actors and musicians, most uber-successful business leaders had wealthy families and the financial safety nets in place to take risks like starting companies or pursuing careers in the arts.

This means that if you aren’t already financially comfortable, your chances of becoming a billionaire just took a nose-dive. Sorry.

The world’s billionaires

Billionaires are above average, by definition. But what does the average billionaire look like? If we took all 2,755 of them and blended them together in a magical machine, who would walk out of it?

This average billionaire a 63-year-old white man living in New York with a net worth of $3.1 billion. Around 5% of that wealth is in real estate and other luxury assets. About a fifth of that net worth is in liquid cash. The remainder is in a mixture of private and public holdings.

How many billionaires in the US?

The United States has 724 citizens in the elusive three comma club. Of these, the richest is the world’s richest man: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon who has still maintained an unfathomably unnecessary net worth of $177 billion despite his recent divorce.

How many billionaires in Europe?

Europe, including Russia, has over 500 billionaires. Counting just continental Europe we find a little over 400. Germany, Russia and the UK have the most billionaires in Europe and Bernard Arnault, the world’s third-richest man, is the richest man in Europe.

How many billionaires in Asia?

China has the second-most billionaires of any country, with a huge 239 people taking their net worth over the $1 billion mark during 2020/21. India also boasts 140 billionaires, and Hong Kong alone has 71.