When you buy something at the store, turn on the television, or eat a meal, you interact with numerous family businesses and contribute to countless family fortunes - perhaps without even realizing it.
Some of the most well-known, wealthiest names in goods and services are established entities that have been around for decades. The historical descendants who inherited those company fortunes may have picked up the reigns of their ancestors' business, or perhaps they just sit back and reap the rewards of their families' success.
Either way, the descendants of billionaires often get to be magnates in their own time. The children of the rich may not be instantly recognizable, but their families pull in some of the biggest paydays around.
Forrest Jr., Jacqueline, and John Mars each inherited 1/3 the fortune amassed from decades of selling M&Ms, Snickers, and Milky Way bars when their father and Mars candy founder, Forest Mars Sr., passed in 1999.
By the time Mars Sr. passed, the Mars empire extended far beyond confections to other food products and consumer goods
Forrest Jr. passed in 2016 with an estimated worth of about $22.6 billion. Jacqueline narrowly avoided jail time after killing an 86-year-old woman in a 2013 car accident. In 2018, she and her brother were each worth almost $24 billion. By 2021, their worths were nearly $35 billion each.
America's wealthiest family - the Waltons - are the descendants of Walmart founder, Sam Walton.
Sam had four children and when he passed in 1992, he divided his wealth equally among them. As of 2018, only James, Rob, and Alice are alive (John, the oldest son, passed in 2005), and each were listed among the wealthiest people in the world in 2017.
As the son of Comcast co-founder Ralph Roberts, Brian Roberts became CEO of the company in 1990.
Brian worked his way up in the company and earned what is now an apparent life-long appointment. Ralph passed in 2015, leaving his four children as heirs. However, Brian inherited the majority of his father's shares in 1999 and was valued at $1.8 billion in 2015.
Elon Musk is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, and the CEO of Tesla Inc. In 2022, Forbes named him the world’s richest person, worth $219 billion (although the exact number fluctuates; Forbes’ real-time list has the most up-to-date figures).
In 1995, Musk, a native of South Africa, co-founded with his brother the online publisher Zip2, which Compaq bought in 1999. He then founded the online financial service company X.com, which merged with Confinity to become PayPal; eBay bought PayPal in 2002. Musk used the profits from that sale to found SpaceX, which designs, builds, and launches reusable rockets; and in 2004 he invested in and joined Tesla, the electric-car and clean-energy company.
Musk is the father of eight children: He has six sons with his ex-wife Justine Wilson (they divorced in 2008); and a son and daughter with his on-and-off girlfriend Grimes, the Canadian singer-songwriter.
Musk's children, whom he co-parents, are sons Griffin and Xavier, twins born in 2004; Kai, Saxon, and Damian, triplets born in 2006; X AE A-XII (nickname X), born in 2020; and daughter Exa Dark Sideræl (nickname Y), born in 2022. Son Nevada Alexander, who was born in 2002, died of sudden infant death syndrome at age 10 weeks.
As of 2022, it’s not clear whether Musk’s children will inherit his fortune or follow in his footsteps at any of his companies. Musk has, however, signed the Giving Pledge, a promise by the world’s wealthiest individuals to donate most of their fortunes to charity.
As the daughter of Harvey S. Firestone, Martha Ford is 90 years old in 2018 and worth $1.3 billion.
Based in Ohio and founded by Firestone in 1900, Firestone Tires reached $1 million in profits a decade later. In 1926, his company was producing more than a quarter of all tires in the US. The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company merged with Bridgestone in 1988.
In 2018, Martha Ford - who is both Firestone's daughter and widow of Henry Ford's grandson, William C. Ford - owns the Detroit Lions.
L'Oreal - Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers
Up until her death in 2017, Liliane Bettencourt was the wealthiest woman in the world. As the daughter and only living heir of Eugene Schueller - the French chemist who founded L'Oreal in 1909 - Bettencourt inherited the family's wealth after her father passed in 1957.
L'Oreal's originated as a hair dye company but expanded through the 20th century incorporating innovation into the development of cosmetics and hair products. Bettencourt left her $44.7 billion fortune to her daughter, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers. As of April 2022, Bettencourt-Meyers's wealth was estimated to be just over $76 billion.