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Madams of money: A look at the 5 richest women in the world

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (FOX 5/KUSI) — They see dollar signs in the billions, and their empires only seem to be growing. They are the richest women in the world.

While the majority of those listed on Forbes’ “Richest in 2024” list are men, 15 out of the 195 billionaires globally are, in fact, women.

The Madams of money reside in places like France, India and here in the United States, with industries ranging from fashion and retail to technology.

Here’s a look at the five richest women in the world and how their bank accounts remain so swelled:

No. 5: MacKenzie Scott (United States)

MacKenzie Scott
Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, March 4, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

MacKenzie Scott, 53, is a philanthropist and author who was once married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who’s the third richest person in the world. After 25 years in wedlock, the couple divorced in 2019. According to Forbes, Scott received a 4% stake in Amazon at that time.

With a net worth of $35.6 billion in 2024, Scott has pledged to give away at least half of her money to nonprofits over the course of her life, Forbes said. So far, the publication noted she has given away over $16 billion to nearly 2,000 nonprofits.

No. 4: Jacqueline Mars (United States)

Jacqueline Mars
Jacqueline Mars is pictured. (Getty Images)

Jacqueline Mars, 84, owns about one-third of the candy, food, and pet care firm called Mars Inc., which Forbes said she inherited from her grandfather who founded the company. The fourth richest woman in the world worked at the company for 20 years.

As of 2024, Mars has a net worth of $38.5 billion, Forbes noted. Though she no longer works for the company that made her so rich, she now serves on the board of the National Archives. 

No. 3: Julia Koch (United States)

Late David H. Koch, left, and his wife Julia Koch are photographed during a “turning of the soil” ceremony on the future site of The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Julia Koch, 61, inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries, along with her three children. As explained by Forbes, she received the funds after her husband, David Koch, died in 2019. Koch Industries companies manufacture paper, process minerals, create fertilizers, and refine oil.

Koch and her children have a net worth of $64.3 billion as of 2024, according to Forbes. Just this year, she donated $75 million to fund the Julia Koch Family Ambulatory Care Center, which is located at NYU Langone’s West Palm Beach location.

No. 2: Alice Walton (United States)

Alice Walton
Alice Walton, heiress to the Wal-Mart Stores Inc fortune, listens during an interview at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)

Alice Walton, 74, found her way to wealth through the popular supermarket chain Walmart, which was founded by her father, Sam Walton. She is his only daughter, with two brothers, Rob and Jim Walton.

With her net worth in 2024 equivalent to $72.3 billion, Forbes said her focus is on the arts rather than working for the Walmart brand, unlike her two siblings. She opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, her hometown.

No. 1: Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (France)

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, daughter of L’Oreal cosmetics fortune heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and board member of the leading world cosmetics group, smiles during a visit with French prime Minister Manuel Valls at L’oreal Headquarters in Clichy, north outskirts of Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, 70, has been deemed the richest woman in the entire world with a net worth of $99.5 billion in 2024, according to Forbes. She owes it to the widely known cosmetic care company called L’Oreal, which was founded by her grandfather.

Forbes said Bettencourt Meyers, along with her family, owns more than a third of publicly traded L’Oreal. She currently serves on the company’s board and is chairwoman of the family holding company.

The world’s richest woman also serves as the president of her family’s philanthropic foundation. According to Forbes, it encourages French progress in the sciences and arts.

Methodology

To calculate net worth, financial researchers at Forbes used stock prices and exchange rates from March 8, 2024. More on their methodology can be found here. Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires rankings track the daily ups and downs of the world’s richest people.

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