Bill Gates Even Gave Away Richest-Guy Title

'Forbes' list wouldn't be a contest if he hadn't discovered philanthropy

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 8, 2011 7:33 AM CST

(Newser) Forbes will unveil its 2011 billionaires list tomorrow, and Bill Gates will certainly make an appearance, reports Reuters. But it turns out the longtime richest guy in the world fell to No. 2 last year not because of Microsoft's waning fortunes, but because he literally gave away the title. "It wouldn't be a competition," says a wealth expert. "(Gates) would have a comfortable margin if he had never discovered philanthropy."

Gates is currently worth an estimated $49 billion, down from last year's $53 billion. But he and wife Melinda have given a whopping $28 billion to their charitable foundation; experts say Gates would be worth $88 billion had he not given anything away. The world's new richest guy, Carlos Slim, came in at $53.5 billion last year; not being quite so fond of charity, he looks to hit $60 billion this year.

Bill Gates addresses the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Bill Gates addresses the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, addresses on January 28, 2011 the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.   (Getty Images)
Bill Gates smiles during a ceremony honoring him and wife Melinda Gates with the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, on Friday, Oct. 15, 2010.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
In this Sept. 11, 2010 file photo, billionaire Bill Gates poses for a portrait while promoting the film "Waiting For 'Superman' " at the Toronto International Film Festival.   (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, file)
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