How many years it took the 23 richest people in the world to go from millionaire to billionaire

  • The richest people in the world found success at various ages.
  • Warren Buffett spent over 25 years as a millionaire before becoming a billionaire, while it took Mark Zuckerberg only one year to graduate to billionaire status.
  • Tech appears to be the fastest wealth-building industry; the richest people in tech averaged five years as millionaires before becoming billionaires.

The richest people in the world met success and wealth at various stages in life.

Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire wunderkind at just 23 years old, while Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett‘s long-game investing strategies finally cemented his billionaire status at 56 – about 26 years after he first joined the seven-figure club.

Buffett and Zuckerberg are now the third and fifth richest people on earth, respectively.

Betway, an online betting site, used Forbes 2018 Billionaire’s List and Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index to find out how long it took the richest people in the world to go from millionaire to billionaire. The blog looked at when each person first appeared on either list, and also gathered news reports and rankings to pinpoint their age at the time. When it wasn’t possible to find an exact age, Betway Insider made an estimate based on the individual’s first big success in business.

Tech appears to be the fastest wealth-building industry; the richest people in tech averaged five years as millionaires before becoming billionaires.

Below, how long it took the richest people in the world to go from millionaire to billionaire. The list excludes two people – Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers and Mukesh Ambani – who both inherited their billions, skipping the millionaire stage completely. All current net worth figures are from Forbes’ real-time ranking as of April 4.


Sheldon Adelson: 41 years

Net worth: $38 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman and CEO, Las Vegas Sands

Millionaire age: 27

Billionaire age: 68


Lee Shau-Kee: 27 years

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Bobby Yip/Reuters

Net worth: $30.7 billion

Source of wealth: Real estate

Millionaire age: 36

Billionaire age: 63


Warren Buffett: 26 years

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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Net worth: $84.8 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway

Millionaire age: 30

Billionaire age: 56


Carlos Slim: 26 years

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REUTERS/ Edgard Garrido

Net worth: $71.1 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman, América Móvil

Millionaire age: 25

Billionaire age: 51


Charles Koch: 22 years

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Business Insider/Julie Bort

Net worth: $60.3 billion

Source of wealth: CEO, Koch Industries

Millionaire age: 31

Billionaire age: 53


Bernard Arnault: 21 years

Net worth: $79.3 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman and CEO, LVMH

Millionaire age: 27

Billionaire age: 48


Michael Bloomberg: 21 years

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Net worth: $49.9 billion

Source of wealth: CEO, Bloomberg

Millionaire age: 31

Billionaire age: 52


Amancio Ortega: 16 years

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Getty Images / Xurxo Lobato

Net worth: $69 billion

Source of wealth: Cofounder, Inditex

Millionaire age: 49

Billionaire age: 65


Rob Walton: 14 years

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Reuters

Net worth: $41.3 billion

Source of wealth: Director, Walmart stores

Millionaire age: 34

Billionaire age: 48


Li Ka-Shing: 13 years

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Reuters

Net worth: $33.8 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman, CK Hutchison Holdings

Millionaire age: 30

Billionaire age: 43


David Koch: 10 years

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Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Net worth: $60.3 billion

Source of wealth: Executive VP, Koch Industries

Millionaire age: 39

Billionaire age: 49


Jim Walton: 10 years

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Walmart

Net worth: $41.4 billion

Source of wealth: Walmart inheritance; Chairman and CEO, Arvest Bank Group, Inc.

Millionaire age: 34

Billionaire age: 44


Jack Ma: 10 years

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VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Net worth: $38.2 billion

Source of wealth: Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group

Millionaire age: 35

Billionaire age: 45


Hui Ka Yan: 10 years

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Bobby Yip/Reuters

Net worth: $33.6 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman, China Evergrande Group

Millionaire age: 41

Billionaire age: 51


Steve Ballmer: 8 years

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Net worth: $36.3 billion

Source of wealth: Former CEO, Microsoft; Owner, Los Angeles Clippers

Millionaire age: 30

Billionaire age: 38


Larry Ellison: 7 years

Net worth: $55.4 billion

Source of wealth: Founder andCTO, Oracle

Millionaire age: 42

Billionaire age: 49


Bill Gates: 5 years

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John Lamparski/Getty Images

Net worth: $90.3 billion

Source of wealth: Cofounder, Microsoft

Millionaire age: 26

Billionaire age: 31


Larry Page: 5 years

Net worth: $47.3 billion

Source of wealth: Cofounder, Google; CEO, Alphabet

Millionaire age: 25

Billionaire age: 30


Sergey Brin: 5 years

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Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Net worth: $46 billion

Source of wealth: Cofounder, Google; President, Alphabet

Millionaire age: 26

Billionaire age: 31


Alice Walton: 4 years

Net worth: $41.1 billion

Source of wealth: Inheritance, Walmart

Millionaire age: 39

Billionaire age: 43


Ma Huateng: 3 years

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Bobby Yip/Reuters

Net worth: $44.1 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman and CEO, Tencent Holdings

Millionaire age: 33

Billionaire age: 36


Jeff Bezos: 2 years

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Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

Net worth: $114.8 billion

Source of wealth: Founder and CEO, Amazon

Millionaire age: 33

Billionaire age: 35


Mark Zuckerberg: 1 year

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Mariana Bazo/Reuters

Net worth: $61.1 billion

Source of wealth: Cofounder and CEO, Facebook

Millionaire age: 22

Billionaire age: 23