A new tally of the world's wealthiest families includes a well-known name in Dallas-Fort Worth: the Walton family, including Fort Worth billionaire Alice Walton. According to a 2021 report by Bloomberg, the Waltons hold the crown as the richest family in the world.
While their wealth is well-established, what's stunning is how much it has grown in the past year: Bloomberg reports that their collective fortune has risen by $23 billion, due to the climbing stock price of the Walmart retail chain.
Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in 1962. Descendants of Sam and his brother, Bud, control more than 1.3 billion shares of Walmart stock either directly or through family trusts, Bloomberg says.
The Waltons liquidated $6 billion in Walmart stock this year, but are still now worth more in 2021 than they were in 2020.
As of mid-September, the Waltons were worth $238.2 billion, according to Bloomberg. That’s almost $100 billion above the next richest family in the world, the Mars family of candy and pet care fame. Last year, Bloomberg estimated the Waltons' fortune at $215 billion.
To put the Waltons' one-year, $23 billion bump in wealth into perspective, Bloomberg estimates the net worth of Walmart heir Lukas Walton at $22 billion.
Bloomberg estimates Alice Walton's net worth at $61.9 billion, making her the 19th richest person in the world and the second richest person in Texas. (She was knocked off her perch in April by Elon Musk, who is worth more than $200 billion.)
But she's not the richest Walmart heir. Ahead of her are brothers Jim ($63.7 billion, No. 17 worldwide) and Rob ($63.3 billion, No. 18 worldwide).
Not everyone is impressed with the Waltons' fortune. In February, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, branded the Waltons "the poster child for greed," in comments he made to CNN about the low starting wage for Walmart employees.
"This is a family that is incredibly wealthy," Sanders said. "One of their owners spend[s] zillions of dollars on antique cars. They've got mansions. They have all kinds of art collections. But somehow or another they can't pay their starting wage at more than 11 bucks an hour."
Walmart has since raised its minimum pay for hourly workers to $12.