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As of 2015, America has more billionaires than anywhere else in the world, and year upon year these ridiculously wealthy people overcome global economic uncertainty to just keep getting richer. There’s no secret formula, however, as the 20 richest men in America have managed to make money out of everything from casinos to chocolate. While some of them have inherited their fortunes, the vast majority have built billions from humble origins. Here’s how they did it.
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20. Michael Dell
He’s worth over $19 billion but Michael Dell’s first salary at Dell was just $20,000. The college dropout invested $1,000 to start his computer company in 1984, with it going on to turnover $6 million in its first year. The CEO owns 70 per cent of Dell but the bulk of his fortune is held in his investment company MSD Capital, which has financed everything from IHOP to Calvin Klein.
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19. Carl Icahn
In the 1980s Wall Street coined the term “Icahn lift” to describe the jump in stock prices that occurred when Carl Icahn started purchasing shares in a fledgling or struggling company. As a result, the former stockbroker’s character was often defined as a hardnosed businessman who earned his fortune trading on the losses of others. Today he heads Icahn Enterprises, a conglomerate that has invested in Apple and Herbalife, among others, and has a net worth of $20.8 billion.