Forbes magazine estimates that there are 1,125 billionaires in the world. That’s three times as many as three years ago, meaning that there are three times as many people that others love to hate — what with their Telecom takeovers and their Ivy League educations and their oil-sheik daddies.
It may take money to make money, but for many billionaires, posh and privilege came from hard work and not heritage — and we’re not saying that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with being born into money. In a surprising number of cases, the mega-rich have sprung from impoverished roots and not lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Consider Kenny Troutt. This bartender’s son grew up in the housing projects of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. He put himself through college selling life insurance and working construction. At one point, he was a racetrack groom, named the “Worst Job in Sports” by USA Today due to the $20,000 salary and the volume of horse manure a groom hauls. But fortunes changed when he...
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