CARY – Jim Goodnight not only is improving his personal fortune for the third consecutive year in 2023, the Cary resident and owner of global software firm SAS is again the richest person in North Carolina.
Falling to second place is Tim Sweeney, the billionaire owner of Epic Games.
Forbes published its latest annual list of global billionaires (“World’s Billionaire’s List”) on Tuesday, calculating Goodnight’s fortune has grown to $7.4 billion – a 10% jump from a year ago. Goodnight, who founded SAS along with fellow billionaire John Sall in 1976, is preparing to possibly take SAS public in a stock offering.
Neither Epic nor SAS will talk about personal finances.
Sweeney’s net worth tumbled to $4.7 billion from $7.4 billion in 2022 when Forbes says his fortune climbed $700,000 higher than Goodnight’s. Epic did take on new investor LEGOS last year but has been embroiled in legal antitrust fights with both Apple and Google over its Fortnite video game. Epic also was recently ordered to pay more than $500 million to settle complaints about privacy with the Federal Trade Commission – a record amount.
Goodnight’s fortune peaked at $9 billion in 2018 and declined slightly to $8.9 billion a year later.
The pandemic pummeled his fortune, dropping it to $6.1 billion in 2020.
His net worthhas risen each year since.
The net worth for Sall in 2023 has grown t0 $3.7 billion, up $400,000 from the 2022 report.
Other billionaires on the list with strong North Carolina links include:
Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets, at $2 billion.
David Murdock, former chairman of Dole Foods and founder of the North Carolina life science campus in Kannapolis, at $2.3 billion.
Musk is no longer No. 1
Elon Musk , meanwhile, has officially been dethroned from the top of Forbes’ list.
The Tesla and Twitter chief is now the second-richest billionaire, worth an estimated $180 billion, which is $39 billion less than the previous year. The top spot has been awarded to Bernard Arnault, the chairman of French luxury goods giant LVMH. His net worth increased more than $50 billion in the past year to $211 billion.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Musk, whose position wobbled on the Forbes’ “Real-Time Billionaires” list, which is updated daily, for the past several months. He and Arnault often switch places.
However, Tuesday’s list tracks his wealth annually. Forbes explained that Musk’s wealth had fallen because his $44 billion Twitter purchase, funded by Tesla shares, scared investors and sent Tesla stock sinking sharply last year. Tesla gained much of those losses back this year but is still significantly lower than before Musk bought Twitter.
Forbes said that “Musk has mostly tweeted himself out of the top spot on the ranks” because Tesla shares are down 50% since his Twitter takeover a year ago. SpaceX is a bright spot for the billionaire, the magazine notes, since its valuation has increased $13 billion to $140 billion over the past year.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos lost the most amount of money of any billionaire on the list ($57 billion), knocking him down from second position to third. The loss can be attributed to Amazon shares losing nearly 40% of their value last year.
As for Arnault, Forbes said the Frenchman had a “banner year” in 2022 because of record-high profits at the luxury conglomerate, which comprises Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Tiffany & Co. Shares of LVMH have climbed 25% over the past year and the patriarch has recently unveiled succession plans to his children.
Forbes said that the total number of billionaires on this year’s list fell to 2,640 (down from 2,668), marking the second-straight year of decline.
“It’s been another rare down year for the planet’s richest people,” said Chase Peterson-Withorn, Forbes senior editor of wealth, in a release. “Nearly half the list is poorer than they were 12 months ago, but a lucky few are billions — or even tens of billions — of dollars richer.”
More than 250 people who were on last year’s list didn’t appear on this year’s, including Kanye West, who lost his Adidas deal, and embattled FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who lost 94% of his wealth in one day.
(CNN contributed to this report.)