Musk had the largest dollar gain on this year's list, according to Forbes, with a fortune of $151 billion, a $126.4 billion increase compared to $24.6 billion last year, when the Tesla and SpaceX executive ranked at No. 31. Tesla shares have risen about 705% over the past year.
However, Musk still trails behind Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who stands as the world's richest person for the fourth consecutive year, raking in a worth of $177 billion in 2021, up $64 billion from a year ago, as a result of surging Amazon shares.
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He joins Oracle CEO Larry Ellison ($93 billion), Google co-founders Larry Page ($91.5 billion) and Sergey Brin ($89 billion) and Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani ($84.5 billion) in the Top 10.
Together, the 10 men are worth a combined $1.15 trillion, up by two-thirds from $686 billion last year.
The total number of billionaires on Forbes' list added 660 people in the last year, reaching an unprecedented 2,755 people, who are worth a combined total of $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion on the 2020 list. About 86% of all billionaires are richer than a year ago.
The U.S. leads its counterparts with a total of 742 billionaires, but China is closing the gap with 698 billionaires, including 71 from Hong Kong and one from Macao. India has the third highest number of billionaires, with a total of 140.
Joining the list is a record 493 newcomers, including 210 from China and Hong Kong and 98 from the United States. The richest newcomer is Miriam Adelson ($38.2 billion), the widow of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who died in January. Other notable newcomers include film and television producer Tyler Perry and Whitney Wolfe Heard, the co-founder of the Bumble dating app and the world's youngest self-made woman billionaire.
Some of those newcomers earned their riches through cryptocurrency, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), traditional IPOs, and COVID-related health care, the media company said.
Approximately 106 of the list members are under 40, two-thirds of whom are self-made.
The youngest billionaire on the list is 18-year-old Kevin David Lehmann of Germany, whose father, Guenther Lehmann, transferred his stake in drugstore chain dm-drogerie mkt to him. Meanwhile, the oldest self-made billionaire is Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph at 99 years old.
A record 1,975 billionaires are self-made, or 72% of the 2021 list, up from 1,457, or 70% of the list in 2020.
Forbes also saw the smallest number of drop-offs from its list in a decade with a total of 61 people, including Kardashian family member and makeup entrepreneur Kylie Jenner and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.
The 2021 list was compiled using stock prices and exchange rates from March 5 to calculate net worths.