Age is not a requirement to be rich.
Some of the youngest billionaires in the world this year are 30 years old or younger.
The reason why we get so squeamish about the youngest billionaires in the world is this: we don’t believe they deserve it.
For many of us, grounded in an understanding of what’s right and wrong, we thus show respect to those who deserve the good things in life.
That is, if their money — and especially, immense wealth — is the result of their hard work. The kind the rest of us toil at every day, whether at school or at work.
The problem with the youngest billionaires in the world today is: many didn’t get rich by themselves.
Are all the youngest billionaires in the world today nepo babies?
The dictionary defines nepotism as the practice of those in power favouring relatives, friends, and associates by giving them jobs or special opportunities.
Family-owned companies often hire immediate family members or relatives into senior positions. Or they have millions of disposable income to help their son start a company that most regular people would not be able to save in decades.
It doesn’t have to be as direct as this. A friend of a friend of a rich family can also choose their sons and daughters to headline their next film or get a coveted internship at Vogue.
Kylie Jenner is infamous as the “self-made youngest billionaire” (as described by Forbes) who admitted she benefited greatly from coming from a multi-millionaire mega-influential family.
“I can’t say I’ve done it by myself,” Jenner told The New York Times.
“If they’re just talking finances, technically, yes, I don’t have any inherited money. But I have had a lot of help and a huge platform.”
Not all of today’s youngest billionaires in the world made their riches through selfies and the influence of their families. Some can even truly claim to have succeeded in life unaided.
Gymshark was an idea created out of Ben Francis’s garage as he studied and worked to save money. Source: Craig Barritt/AFP
Here are the top eight youngest billionaires in the world and what they studied
1. Ben Francis, 31
Net worth: US$1.2 billion
Ben Francis didn’t become one of the youngest billionaires in the world from an inheritance.
Born in the West Midlands in 1992, he was an avid Aston Villa fan from young. He went to Bromsgrove High School, but he wasn’t a good student until he took an IT class at the age of 17.
“This IT class was different to anything else I’d done before because it was all about learning and applying real skills – not just writing about them,” he says.
During this time, he also joined a gym and watched YouTube to learn the basic skills and structure needed to exercise.
This changed his life, Francis went from getting D’s and E’s in GCSEs to As and Bs at A level.
“The structure, consistency and work ethic I found in the gym, I realised, could be applied to different areas of my life, and it would work.”
Francis then enrolled in Aston University to study business and management. While here, he merged his passion for IT with fitness and launched two fitness apps.
He even delivered pizzas, saved his earnings then purchased a sewing machine.
Armed with that and a screen-printing kit in his mother’s garage, Francis launched a multi-million-pound fitness clothing brand Gymshark in 2012.
The company is valued at US$1.45 billion.
2. Palmer Luckey, 31
Net worth: US$1.8 billion
Palmer Luckey was only 16 when he built the company’s first product, the Oculus Rift. The company would later be acquired by Facebook for US$2 billion.
Growing up, Luckey liked fixing cars, video games and science fiction. Soon, he started projects from his garage before eventually meddling with gaming consoles.
This led to him taking apart and rebuilding VR headsets.
After about two years, he took a break to launch Oculus in 2012.
Despite dropping out, Luckey doesn’t endorse it.
“They can find out what they want to do while they’re getting college done, and they could do their year or two (time off) after they’ve done all of that,” he says.
3. Mark Mateschitz, 31
Net worth: US$40 billion
Mark Mateschitz is the only child of the late Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder of the energy drink company Red Bull.
Red Bull was founded in 1987 alongside Thai tycoon Chaleo Yoovidhya, whose son Chalerm Yoovidhya has now succeeded him in running the company.
When the older Mateschitz passed away last year, Mark inherited his father’s 49% stake in the company.
This included two Formula One racing teams, a Fijian island, Austrian castles, as well as an estate in London’s Knightsbridge.
According to some reports in the Austrian newspaper Kurier, his classmates have described him as “bright and sports-oriented, with many interests.”
He continued his higher education at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, where he pursued a degree in business administration.
He only took on his father’s surname after he graduated, following which he took on senior positions within the company.
After the death of his father, he stepped down from being head of Red Bull’s organic division to focus on his shareholder role instead.
4. Kevin David Lehmann, 21
Net worth: US$2.4 billion
This drugstore chain was founded in 1976 and is Germany’s leading drugstore, with over 3,200 stores in 12 European countries.
His father, Guenther, decided to invest in this chain in 1974 when he saw potential in the business at that time.
The store today generates more than US$12 billion in yearly revenues, but it is widely known that neither Kevin nor Guenther is actively involved in its operations.
In fact, not much is known about either of them. Kevin was born in September 2002 and only surfaced online in 2020 when he became 18, the legal age to own a company.
5. Clemente Del Vecchio, 18
Net worth: US$3.5 billion
Clemente Del Vecchio is one of Leonardo Del Vecchio’s six children, who inherited his fortune after he died in 2022.
In a rags-to-riches story, the 25-year-old Leonardo founded the eyewear empire, EssilorLuxottica in a trailer and turned it into a global fashion brand.
The Luxottica Group S.p.A. corporate website now lists 33 brands, including Ray-Ban, Valentino, Prada, Michael Kors, Coach and Brooks Brothers.
The US$3.5 billion or 12.5% in inheritance to each of the children made them all one of the youngest billionaires in the world individually.
Clemente was born in Milan, Italy, in 2004 and had access to many opportunities and experiences since he was young.
He reportedly has a keen interest in science and technology and has wanted to pursue those subjects further in college.
6. Alexandra Andresen, 27
Net worth: US$1.5 billion
The Andersen family initially built their fortune on tobacco before venturing into real estate, investments, and hedge funds through the private-owned company Ferd.
Both Alexandra and her sister, Katharina, inherited 42% of stocks in the company, making them each one of the youngest billionaires in the world.
Alexandra was born on July 23, 1996, in Oslo, Norway, where she was raised in a close-knit family.
At the age of three, she found her lifelong passion for horse riding and started off riding tiny Shetland ponies in Kongsgarden Park.
She went to the Forres Sandle Manor boarding school for a year and lived a relatively normal life.
Today, her equestrian hobby takes centre stage. She isn’t just a rich girl, but one with talent and who has won many competitions in dressage.
Her parents strived to teach them the importance of saving and spending wisely, evident by her father’s insistence that they use second-hand cars.
Her Instagram account is an exciting mix of horses and medals, tales of veganism, and calls to end animal cruelty.
7. Wang Zelong, 26
Net worth: US$1.2 billion
In 2021, he made the Forbes list when he inherited stakes worth more than US$1.3 billion in CNNC Hua Yuan Titanium Dioxide Co., a chemical company listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
The company makes a chemical used to create pigments for paint, paper, and a variety of other industrial uses.
He also has stakes in Lomon Billions Group, a company that also produces titanium dioxide.
Wang has kept a very low profile online and on social media, but one thing has been quite noticeable.
While most billionaires his age went into tech, Wang singled himself out by venturing into the niche industry of pigment production.
In 2019, just after he completed his studies, he began cashing in stocks and expanding the business.
8. Kim Jung-youn, 19
Net worth: US$1.7 billion
Kim Jung-min and sister Kim Jung-youn inherited about a third of their family’s assets, including a 15% stake in Nexon Co. Ltd when their father passed away in 2022.
Pioneering the world of online entertainment, this company was founded in 1994 and is known for titles such as KartRider and MapleStory.
Nexon today is one of the most popular gaming companies in Asia.
Jung-youn was born in 2004 but has also kept a very low profile online.