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wealth: How do you become a billionaire?

Almost two-thirds of the world's 946 billionaires built their wealth from scratch, thanks to their courage and determination, not their parentage.

Fifty of these self-made tycoons dropped out of school or dropped out of college. The most famous billionaire dropout is Microsoft's Bill Gates, who finally received his honorary degree from Harvard University in June, a full 30 years after leaving the prestigious university to sell software. "Of all the failures, I've made it the furthest," joked the richest man in the world in his official acceptance speech. Who needs success when failure can be so successful?

Other billionaires such as media expert Oprah Winfrey have made their fortune despite much worse opportunities. She was born in the Mississippi countryside and spent her early childhood poorly on her grandmother's farm. To escape this misery, she moved to Wisconsin to live with her mother, but was immorally molested by her male relatives. At the age of 14, she is said to have given birth to a child who was born prematurely, but who died. Her luck only turned when she moved to live with her father in Nashville. To honor the world's self-made billionaires, we're telling you ten of our favorite rags-to-riches to billionaire stories.

The stories of these billionaires, who have worked their way up on their own, are just as different as the ten people themselves. They are between 40 and 91 years old, come from very different industries such as the fashion world and the oil industry and live in five different countries. Roman Abramovich, the richest man in Russia, was an orphan. Steve Jobs, who has become a cult figure at Apple, has been adopted. Jobs dropped out of Reed College when he could no longer afford the tuition fees. His net worth today would be enough to fund nearly 40,000 students four years of study at Reed College. Three other billionaires, including Ralph Lauren, were also college dropouts.

Five other billionaires left school prematurely and showed that you can often get further with brains than with conventional schooling. The British newspaper magnate Richard Desmond, for example, left school when he realized that he could earn more money as a cloakroom operator in a club. When he was 16, he borrowed his older brother's suit to find a job as a salesman. He's still in sales today, bringing music, porn and celebrity magazines like OK! to the man.

Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Asia, left school at the age of 15 to work in a factory after his father's death. Kirk Kerkorian dropped out of school in eighth grade to become a boxer. During the Second World War he flew daring missions to Europe as a pilot and eventually founded his own airline, whose profits he invested in Las Vegas.

The "city of sin" was also gracious to Sheldon Adelson. The son of a Boston taxi driver, when he was twelve, borrowed € 149 to sell newspapers. In later years he hired himself as a mortgage broker, investment advisor and financial advisor. The school dropout and Broadway fan studied singing as a teenager, but eventually followed the call of a completely different stage - the exhibition stage - where he earned his first big money.

Adelson then later speculated with casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore and went public with his company Las Vegas Sands in December 2004 on the New York Stock Exchange. Original sound from Adelson: "I thought it was great to be the outsider."

Luck and timing also play a role in building a huge fortune from scratch. For example, James Cayne moved to New York to play bridge professionally. There he was discovered by Wall Street legend Alan "Ace" Greenberg, who was so impressed by Cayne's card game that he hired him as a securities dealer for his company Bear Stearns. Today Cayne is chairman of the board.

J.K. Rowling, the world's richest novelist, was raising her young daughter on welfare when her agent called to tell her that Bloomsbury wanted to publish her book about the teenage wizard Harry Potter. In any case, one thing is clear: our billionaires, who have worked their way up from the dishwasher, are certainly not lacking in chutzpah.