Top Self-Made Millionaire & Billionaire Women

Top Self-Made Billionaire Women
Top Self-Made Billionaire Women

Forbes released today its third annual list of America’s Richest Self-Made Millionaire & Billionaire Women (p. 86 in the June 13, 2017 issue Forbes magazine). These 60 women, who have a record combined net worth of $61.5 billion, have created their own fortunes, deploying invention and innovation and achieving unparalleled success.  The minimum net worth needed to make this year’s list is $260 million, up from $250 million in 2016.

Marian Ilitch seizes the top spot on this year’s list. With the death of her husband, Mike Ilitch, in February 2017, Marian Ilitch, who owns the Little Caesars pizza chain and Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel, along with other investments, is the new richest self-made woman in America.  ABC Supply’s Diane Hendricks, who held the top spot in 2016, falls to No. 2 on the list, with a net worth of $4.9 billion, the same as last year.  Judy Love and Oprah Winfrey are tied for No. 3, both worth $2.9 billion, followed by The Gap’s Doris Fisher in at No. 5 with a net worth of $2.7 billion.

Many of these women started out trying to come up with better products to use themselves – be it makeup, jewelry or baby care products – and ended up building successful companies around their ideas. “These 60 entrepreneurs, innovators and entertainers made their fortunes in everything from makeup and music to fashion, food and finance,” said Luisa Kroll, Forbes’ Assistant Managing Editor, Wealth. “A number of them saw their fortunes increase as investors and corporate buyers rushed in.”

There are two new billionaires on the list, one of whom is Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani. The new bangle billionaire is featured on the cover of the June 13, 2017 issue of Forbes magazine. By turning what women wear on their wrists into affinity statements, Rafaelian, who is now America’s richest jeweler, has grown the Alex and Ani brand into a company worth more than $1 billion. The jeweler is working on world domination and possibly an IPO.

For the complete story, Bangle Billionaire (p. 70), visit:

The Top 10 Richest Self-Made Women:

1 Marian Ilitch Little Caesars $5.1 billion
2 Diane Hendricks ABC Supply $4.9 billion
3 Judy Love Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores $2.9 billion
3 Oprah Winfrey OWN cable network $2.9 billion
5 Doris Fisher Gap $2.7 billion
6 Judy Faulkner Epic Systems $2.5 billion
6 Meg Whitman Hewlett Packard Enterprise $2.5 billion
8 Johnelle Hunt J.B. Hunt Transport Services $2.4 billion
9 Elaine Wynn Wynn Resorts $2.1 billion
10 Lynda Resnick The Wonderful Company $2.0 billion


Self-Made Women Highlights:

  • There are five newcomers to Forbes’ 2017 Self-Made Women list, including Kendra Scott, CEO and founder of Kendra Scott Design, Inc., and Jessica Iclisoy, founder of California Baby.
  • Twenty-three women on the list reside in California, which is more than double the number of women in any other state. New York, home to nine on the list, is a not-so-close second.
  • Fifteen of the list members were born outside of the U.S.
  • There were six drop-offs from last year’s list, including Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso and the Honest Company founder Jessica Alba.

Methodology for Forbes’ Self-Made Women List:

To compile net worths, Forbes valued private companies by speaking with an array of outside experts and conservatively comparing the companies with public competitors. In cases in which women started businesses with, and still share with, their husbands, they’ve been assigned half of that combined wealth. Forbes calculated the stakes in public companies using stock prices from April 28, 2017. For entertainers, estimates are based on net lifetime earnings. Real estate, art and other assets were also factored in where applicable. To be eligible for this list, women had to have substantially made their own fortunes and be U.S. citizens or longtime residents. Forbes attempted to vet these numbers with all list entrants.

For the complete list and more, visit:


  • The IT Girl (p. 80) – Former news anchor and newcomer to the Self-Made Women list, Jamie Kern Lima, began testing makeup a decade ago to help cover her red, blotchy skin. That experimentation led to the creation of IT Cosmetics, which L’Oréal purchased in 2016 for $1.2 billion. Now, Kern Lima is plotting to turn IT Cosmetics into the largest beauty brand in the world.


Jacqueline Maddison
Jacqueline Maddison is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Beverly Hills Magazine. She believes in shining light on the best of the best in life. She welcomes you into the world of the rich and famous with the ultimate luxury lifestyle.
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