The Truth-O-Meter Says:

"Some of the wealthiest Americans are African-American now."

Rush Limbaugh on Monday, April 28th, 2014 in comments on his radio show

Limbaugh: 'Some of the wealthiest Americans are African-American now'

There’s the truth, there’s distortions and then there’s Rush Limbaugh’s April 28, 2014, radio show. In it, the conservative American radio talk show host decided to discuss the racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

At one point, Limbaugh described Sterling as "a typical Hollywood Democrat." That’s incorrect (Sterling is a registered Republican -- to the extent it matters).

"The only reason (Sterling’s) in trouble right now is he did not give enough money to Obama," Limbaugh proclaimed. That’s highly speculative, so we can’t fact-check Limbaugh on this point.

At another point in his Sterling talk, Limbaugh discussed how things generally are going for African-Americans in the United States. Limbaugh’s diagnosis: pretty darn good.

"You've got a black president. You've got a black attorney general. You've got the wealthiest TV performer in American history is a African-American woman. That would be The Oprah," Limbaugh said. "Some of the wealthiest Americans are African-American now."

That last line is quite incorrect.

The go-to source to learn about the wealthiest Americans is Forbes, which tracks the fortunes of the world’s elite. It publishes an annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans and a list of the world’s billionaires. The most recent Forbes list was released in March 2014. (Bloomberg also publishes a less expansive list of the world’s billionaires.)

For some perspective, the folks at the bottom of Forbes’ wealthiest Americans list are worth an estimated $1.3 billion. At the top is Bill Gates, who is worth an estimated $72 billion.

How many African-Americans make up the American Top 400?

One, according to Forbes.

Oprah Winfrey is worth an estimated $2.9 billion -- ranking her 184th on the list.

For the record, it isn’t only rare for African-Americans to be billionaires in the United States. According to Forbes, there are only nine black billionaires in the world.

So who are the wealthiest African-Americans besides Winfrey? We found two other lists using Forbes data that are a few years old. Here’s a list, with the date of the last update:

  • Entertainer Sean "Diddy" Combs, $550 million (April 2012)

  • BET founder Robert Johnson, $550 million (May 2009)

  • Golfer Tiger Woods, $500 million (September 2010)

  • Former basketball player Michael Jordan, $500 million (September 2010)

  • Former basketball player Magic Johnson, $500 million (May 2009)

That means no African-American other than Oprah Winfrey is even close to cracking the Top 400 list.

Our ruling

Limbaugh said, "Some of the wealthiest Americans are African-American now."

We reached out to Limbaugh with our finding but have not heard back.

Of the top 400 wealthiest Americans, exactly one is African-American -- that’s .25 percent. Also, no other African-American is really all that close to breaking into the Top 400.

Limbaugh’s claim severely distorts reality. We rate it False.

About this statement:

Published: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 at 12:14 p.m.

Subjects: Wealth


Rush Limbaugh transcript, April 28, 2014

Forbes, The Forbes 400, accessed April 29, 2014

Forbes, The Black Billionaires 2014, March 4, 2014

Forbes, The World’s Billionaires, accessed April 29, 2014

The Richest, Richest African Americans – Forbes Wealthiest Black Americans, April 20, 2012

Bloomberg Billionaires, April 29, 2014

Written by: Aaron Sharockman
Researched by: Aaron Sharockman
Edited by: Amy Hollyfield

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