Zack O’Malley Greenburg (a blogger for Forbes magazine) has an article proclaiming Beyoncé and Jay Z a billion dollar couple (hat-tip to commenter Afrosapiens):
Beyoncé, 35, has amassed a personal fortune of $350 million. The total for Jay Z, 47, has soared to $810 million per last week’s ranking of hip-hop’s richest acts (he trails No. 1 Diddy by just $10 million). That brings the couple to a combined net worth of $1.16 billion and counting.
However in order to officially be declared a billionaire by Forbes (and make their international billionaire list), you typically need an individual net worth of at least $1 billion as they’ve explained in the past:
We list individual fortunes, rather than those shared among large multigenerational families such as the Rothschilds or Du Ponts. In some cases, like that of Indian newcomers Sudhir and Samir Mehta, we list siblings together if we don’t know how they split their fortune. In these cases we require the net worth to be an average of $1 billion apiece. When we garner new information on how fortunes are shared, we split up families. Example: Taiwan’s Tsai brothers, who were listed together with a $3.3 billion fortune in 2008. The trio returns to the rankings this year with three individual listings after falling off in 2009. We include wealth held by a spouse and children (marking the entry “& family”) but not wealth of other kin.
With a net worth of $810 million Jay Z could become the first hip hop billionaire but sadly, because of racism, every time blacks cross a milestone, the milestone becomes devalued. So when a black person moves into a nice neighbourhood, the neighbourhood is no longer considered nice. When a black family moved into the White House, the status of the Presidency sunk so low that a “pussy grabbing” reality TV star with funny hair could get elected.
Subconsciously the racist attitude is, if a black person achieved it, how impressive can it be?
When I was a kid (I’m now in my 30s) being a billionaire was considered the most exclusive thing in the World, and part of the reason it was so exclusive was because no black had ever achieved that much wealth (with the possible exception of Mobutu, the Congolese despot and Sani Abacha the Nigerian military leader, whose wealth was so hidden that not even Forbes could confirm it).
After negotiating the most lucrative deal in TV history, in 1995 Oprah overtook Bill Cosby as the only African American wealthy enough to rank among the 400 richest Americans. At the time her net worth was $340 million and Forbes predicted she would one day become the first black to make their international billionaire list.
Because you only need several hundred million to make the Forbes 400 in the mid 1990s, it was much less exclusive than Forbes international billionaire list, but today being a billionaire is no longer enough to be one of the 400 richest Americans.
Every autumn when Forbes released their annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans, I would bike to the local corner store and buy a copy, hoping that would be the year when Oprah hit ten figures.
1996: $415 million
1997: $550 million
1998: $675 million
1999: $725 million
2000: $800 million
The reason I wanted so badly for Oprah to become a billionaire was that I had estimated, based on Oprah’s little known hat-size, that she was arguabley the biggest brained black on Earth (excluding pathological cases), so how perfect would it be if the World’s biggest brained black used her smarts to become the World’s first black billionaire.
Given my fascination with race, intelligence and Darwinism, the stars were lining up so perfectly, and I just had to wait a few more years for it to come to fruition.
Then in 2001, the unthinkable happened.
I had biked to the corner store like I did every autumn to pick up the latest Forbes 400, and suddenly there was this black face staring back at me.
“Please tell me that’s a really bad picture of Oprah” I remembered thinking
As I got closer, I was forced to confront the truth. Another black, Bob Johnson, had came out of nowhere and robbed Oprah of her status as “first black billionaire”. For someone who had just spent the last half decade waiting for Oprah to become the first black billionaire, this was devastating.
And what made it all the more shocking was there was no warning. Johnson hadn’t even qualified for the Forbes 400 in any previous year, and now suddenly he had leapfrogged over Oprah’s 2001 net worth of $900 million to amass a fortune worth $1.3 billion.
Apparently Viacom had stunned the media industry by paying over $2 billion for Black Entertainment Television and since Johnson owned 63%, he became a billionaire overnight.
So the World’s biggest brained black never did become the World’s first black billionaire as I had so desperately wanted, but a few years later I was able to salvage my theory.
If you can’t be the first, be the ONLY
By 2004, not only was Oprah a billionaire, but Bob Johnson’s wife Sheila divorced him, taking a huge chunk of his fortune with her. As a result Johnson lost his billionaire status, and for three straight years, Oprah towered as the World’s ONLY black billionaire (excluding Saudi Arabian Blarab billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-Amoudi and Canadian Blasian billionaire Michael Lee-Chin who are both arguably mostly non-black at the genetic level)
Since then, the billionaire club has become a lot less exclusive and there are now three black billionaires in America alone, though with a net worth hovering around $3 billion, Oprah remains the richest black in the developed World.