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General News

The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers (21-30)

March 11, 2024
Eraklis & Vanessa Diamataris, co-Editors/Publishers

In this TNH/EK special edition of the 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America, we embark on a journey of celebration and inspiration. As co-editors and publishers, we are honored to shine a spotlight on individuals whose remarkable achievements not only exemplify the American Dream but also fill us with immense pride in our Greek heritage.

(The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers: 1-10)

The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers: 11-20)

Each profile within these pages tells a story of perseverance, resilience, and triumph against all odds. From humble beginnings to soaring heights, these individuals have overcome obstacles, pursued their passions, and carved out their own paths to success. Their stories serve as a testament to the limitless possibilities that await those who dare to dream big and work hard.

But beyond their personal accomplishments, these individuals also embody the spirit of philanthropy and community service. They understand the importance of giving back and are committed to making a difference in the lives of others. Whether through charitable donations, volunteer work, or mentorship, they are dedicated to supporting worthy causes and lifting up those in need.

As we reflect on the remarkable journeys of these 50 individuals, we are reminded of the power of unity and solidarity within the Greek community. It is our shared values, traditions, and sense of kinship that bind us together and propel us forward. In times of adversity, we draw strength from our collective heritage and stand ready to support one another.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our readers and supporters for making this special issue possible. Your unwavering dedication and enthusiasm have fueled our efforts and inspired us to showcase the incredible achievements of our Greek-American community and have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.

As we turn the pages of this insert, may we be inspired by the stories of resilience and determination, reawakening our faith in the American Dream and reinforcing our commitment to supporting one another. Let us continue to give generously to worthy organizations, especially those affiliated with the Greek community, knowing that together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

After all, this is our community, these are our people, and it is our collective responsibility to uplift and empower each other.

  1. MICHAEL PSAROS

New York
$700 MILLION (TNHE)
INVESTMENTS
Georgetown University (Business); Married, 3 children

Friends of Saint Nicholas Chairman Michael Psaros at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center on December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. (Photo: TNH/ C. Athanasatos)

Michael Psaros, 56, is a co-founder and co-managing partner of KPS Capital Partners, LP (www.kpsfund.com), one of the world’s leading private equity firms with over $21 billion of assets under management. KPS makes controlling equity investments in manufacturing and industrial companies across a diverse array of industries, and then transforms these companies into world-class, industry-leading enterprises by structurally improving their strategic position, competitiveness, and profitability. KPS has completed over 100 acquisitions through six institutional investment funds, and its active portfolio companies have aggregate revenue of $20 billion, operate 223 manufacturing facilities in 26 countries, and employ 48,000 people worldwide.

KPS was featured in the Wall Street Journal in November 2023 for raising almost $10 billion of capital for two oversubscribed institutional investment funds in one of the most challenging fundraising markets in the history of the private equity business. The WSJ highlighted the firm’s consistent investment success across financial and economic cycles over decades. KPS now has over $13.5 billion of equity capital to invest across its platform, or approximately $60 to $70 billion of buying power on a leveraged basis.

Psaros co-founded KPS when he was 30 years old after joining KPS’ predecessor investment banking firm six years earlier in 1991, which was founded by his mentor and hero, Eugene Keilin. Keilin engineered the employee buyout of Weirton Steel in Psaros’ hometown in 1984, which saved it from closing, preventing the loss of his father’s job and thousands of others. The Weirton Steel buyout inspired Psaros to pursue a career on Wall Street focused on saving industrial companies. Psaros and his partners entered the private equity business in 1997, launching KPS with a dream and no capital. Together they built one of the leading firms in the business over the next 25 years. Asked about the firm’s success, Psaros often responds “we do business with ‘philotemo’.”

Psaros is the son of George and Mary Ann Psaros and grandson of four Greek immigrants from Olympoi, Chios, and Halicarnassus (Bodrum) in Asia Minor. He is a leading philanthropist and activist for Hellenic and Orthodox causes.

The Psaros Family created the ‘Psaros Orthodox Church Endowment’, in the name of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, to fund the salary of the Parish Priest in perpetuity at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Weirton, West Virginia, announced during the Apostolic Visit by the Ecumenical Patriarch to Weirton in 2021.

Psaros is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine located at Ground Zero in New York City (www.StNicholasWTC.org). He is the former Vice Chair of the organization responsible for its construction and completion. The National Shrine is the only house of worship located at Ground Zero and is the most visible symbol of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in the United States, often referred to as the ‘American Parthenon’ or the ‘American Aghia Sophia’. The National Shrine, constructed at a cost of $85 million, attracted almost 150,000 visitors from around the world in 2023 and serves as a cenotaph in memory of the 3,000 people who tragically lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

Psaros serves on the Executive Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and formerly served as its Treasurer, where he led a transformational financial restructuring. Psaros is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Order of St. Andrew and serves on its National Council. He received the Archon Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Philanthropic Leadership in 2022. He serves on the Investment Committee of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation, on the Board of Trustees of Leadership 100, the Executive Board of The Hellenic Initiative (THI), and is a proud supporter of AHEPA, which awarded Psaros its highest honor, the Socrates Award, in 2019.

Psaros provided significant philanthropic support to Chios, Greece. He has funded the purchase of critically needed materials for the main hospital, the planting of 2,000 trees throughout the island, a handicap-equipped school bus for special needs students, and a summer volunteer program for U.S. college students.

Psaros served on the Board of Directors of Georgetown University and currently serves as Vice Chair of the University’s McDonough School of Business.

The Psaros Family created ‘The Michael and Robin Psaros Endowed Chair in Business Administration’ at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2013. The Psaros Family created the ‘The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Endowed Orthodox Chaplaincy, endowed by the Michael Psaros Family’, announced during the Apostolic Visit by the Ecumenical Patriarch to Georgetown University in 2021. The Psaros Family also funded an Orthodox Christian Iconostasis and accompanying Iconography for the Copley Crypt Chapel at Georgetown University.

The Psaros Family named and endowed the ‘The Georgetown Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy’ in 2022 (https://finpolicy.georgetown.edu), focused on important policy issues at the nexus of business, the economy, regulation, and legislation. The Georgetown Psaros Center provides unbiased, non-partisan, objective expertise to guide policy and practice. The Georgetown Psaros Center convenes leaders across the private sector, the global capital markets, legislators and regulators to solve problems for the common good. The Georgetown Psaros Center is a facilitator and an educator for practitioners and policy makers seeking unbiased expertise, research and thought leadership on critical issues of the day.

    1. ANGELO K. TSAKOPOULOS

California
$600 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
REAL ESTATE
California State University – Sacramento (Political Science & Business); Married, 6 children

Angelo Tsakopoulos. (Photo: Eurokinissi)

Angelo Tsakopoulos, 87, is a prominent, civic-minded businessman in the Sacramento region where he heads one of the area’s largest development firms. As a philanthropist and benefactor, he has made lasting contributions to the educational and cultural life of the greater community. Tsakopoulos has lived his life expressing his belief in the Greek idea of ‘paideia’, or a well-rounded education. Originally from the village of Rizes in Arcadia, Greece, this butcher’s son crossed not only the Atlantic to find a new home, but also traveled across the United States, his family reaching the country in New York before moving to Chicago, and eventually settling in California. Having lived under the Nazi occupation, the Tsakopoulos family came to America along with hundreds of other hopeful immigrants via steamship.
On his 15th birthday, he sailed into New York City’s harbor and saw Lady Liberty for the very first time. Tsakopoulos, now 86, moved to Chicago to live with relatives, before eventually continuing west to the San Joaquin Valley in California. Along the way, Tsakopoulos worked as a shoe shine boy and a farmhand. Encouraged by a close mentor to continue his education, Tsakopoulos studied political science and business at California State University, Sacramento, where he was also a member of the boxing team. While there, he used the Americanized surname of Chicos – which he later dropped to reclaim his family’s name. A NY Fights article that did a deep-dive on the history of boxing in Sacramento spotlighted Tsakopoulos in September of 2023. While attending school, Tsakopoulos supported himself as a waiter and real estate salesman, foreshadowing his highly successful career in real estate development.
He would eventually leave Sac State a few credits shy of graduation to work full time. Tsakopoulos founded AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, CA, which became a leading real estate development firm in the area under his leadership and has built more than 60,000 homes and more than 30 million square feet of office space. AKT also maintains a large commercial building portfolio and manages approximately 20,000 acres of farmland. In 2018, Tsakopoulos stepped down as CEO of AKT and his daughter, Chrysanthy (Chrysa) Demos took over the position. However, Chrysa has said her father is only ‘semi-retired’. In evidence of that, Tsakopoulos is spearheading a project proposal in the Sacramento region of Davis, California. Named Pioneer Community, the project would encompass 1,215 homes spread across 1,100 acres, including 59 acres of agricultural land mitigation and land designated for a sports park. There will be a micro-grid energy system to power the buildings, 597 acres of agricultural land mitigation, 150-175 units of what the project describes as “continuum care” senior housing, a 200-acres for energy creation (mostly photovoltaics), and 32 acres along Interstate 80 to serve as an emission-free energy depot for both hydrogen and electric vehicles. Voting on the proposal is slated for 2026.
Tsakopoulos has lived his life expressing his belief in the Greek idea of ‘paideia’ and thus has made lasting contributions to the education and cultural life of the greater community. The Tsakopoulos family has donated land and funds to cultural institutions including the Greek Orthodox Church, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Roseville Arts Center. Tsakopoulos has also had a strong commitment to supporting education through the Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos Endowment Fund and as a co-chair for California State University at Sacramento’s Capital Campaign.
To support the study and celebration of Greek heritage and history, Tsakopoulos served as an instrumental figure in the creation of the S.B. Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism in Sacramento. In 2018, the Tsakopoulos family donated $1 million to establish the Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Chair at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Most recently, in September of 2020, the CEO of UC Davis Health announced a $2 million gift from Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos and Chrysa and George Demos to support the health system’s commitment to improve the health and well-being of older adults. In 2021, Tsakopoulos donated $250,000 toward the support of families who were displaced by the Caldor fire in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
In 2016, Tsakopoulos, on his 80th birthday, was honored in the United States Congressional Record for “his legendary career in real estate development and his long history of philanthropy in California.” Tsakopoulos has also carved out a niche for himself as a major player in and fundraiser for the Democratic Party, and as a standard bearer for Greek political and cultural interests in America. He and his children have raised and contributed millions to national, state, and local campaigns over the past decade. Tsakopoulos is also dedicated to advancing the careers of Greek-American politicians, including former California state treasurer and once-gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides.
His daughter, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Hungary in 2010 and in 2018 was elected as California’s 50th Lieutenant Governor. Eleni, as of April 2023, is a candidate from the Democratic Party seeking to become the 41st governor of California in 2026 when the next elections are held. Tsakopoulos, known for his larger than life persona, and his family have established Hellenic Studies chairs at several major American universities across the country: Georgetown, Stanford, and Columbia among them

      1. JAMES NEARY

New York
$590 MILLION (TNHE)
FINANCE
Northwestern University (MBA)

Neary, James – Warburg Pincus

James ‘Jim’ Neary heads the Industrial and Business Services Group and is the Co-Head of the Healthcare Group at Warburg Pincus and is a member of the firm’s Investment Management Group. During his career at Warburg Pincus, Neary has led Business Services; Late Stage Technology-enabled Services; Technology, Media & Telecommunications and Capital Markets. Prior to joining Warburg Pincus, he was a Managing Director at Chase Securities.
He is the chairman or board member of several companies including Allied Universal, Consolidated Precision Products, Duravant, Endurance International Group, Hygiena, Sotera Health, and WEX. Among other public and private companies, he has previously served on the boards of Crossmark, Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., Interactive Data Corporation, InComm Holdings, Coyote Logistics, EFS (Electronic Funds Source), and Alert Global Media Holdings.
Neary is on the Board of Trustees of The Mount Sinai Health System as well as The Eaglebrook School. In addition, he is the Co-Chair of the President’s Council at Tufts University. He received a BA in Economics and Political Science from Tufts University and an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where he was the Eugene Lerner Finance Scholar.
Neary’s personal connections to Greece are typical in the Greek Diaspora – he is distinguished by his passion and desire to make a real difference in the land of his forebears. “I was raised Greek Orthodox and grew up steeped in the traditions of the Orthodox Church and the Greek holidays,” Neary said. “I have traveled to Greece with my extended family several times.

        1. TOM HANKS & RITA WILSON

California
$504M (TNHE)
ENTERTAINMENT
Married, 4 children

Hanks, Tom & Wilson, Rita – (AP Photo)

This power couple officially became ‘Greek’ after Tom Hanks was granted honorary citizenship by Greece’s former President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in 2020, for their efforts to assist Greece by appealing for international aid after the devastating wildfire in Mati. The initiative, which originated from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, stemmed from his discussions with Tom Hanks regarding issues of Greek interest. The Prime Minister’s proposal to Hanks was reportedly accepted with enthusiasm, sources said, and was followed by the formal request to President Pavlopoulos by then-Minister of the Interior, Takis Theodorikakos.
Hanks converted to Greek Orthodoxy in 1988 prior to marrying Rita Wilson, who has Greek heritage. He owns property and houses on the islands of Antiparos and Patmos and has quietly supported several initiatives for Greece. The Guardian reported that Hanks, by his own admission, “is an ardent admirer of all things Hellenic.” He has been visiting the country for years, spending nearly every summer on the Aegean island of Antiparos.
Wilson, born to a Greek mother and a Bulgarian Muslim father, immigrated to the United States in 1949. Wilson’s father eventually converted to the Greek Orthodox faith, in which Rita Wilson was raised. She is believed to have played a crucial role in Hanks’ decision to co-produce the romantic comedy ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ with her. The couple also produced ‘Mamma Mia!’ and its sequel. In December of 2019, Hanks received the 2020 Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. During his acceptance speech, he expressed his deep connection to Greece and its culture.
Within the past year, Tom Hanks has produced ‘The 2010s’, a CNN documentary on the decade, and the TV mini-series ‘Masters of the Air’, featuring his co-star from the movie Elvis, Austin Butler. Tom Hanks and Rita were also co-producers on ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3’, which was released on September 8, 2023.
Wilson and Hanks attend St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church in Los Angeles. His spiritual father is Father Robert Stephanopoulos, whose son is the well-known political commentator and TV host, George Stephanopoulos. This year, Tom and Rita Hanks will be celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary.

          1. MARCUS A. LEMONIS

Illinois
$500 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
INVESTMENTS
Marquette University (Political Science); Married

Lemonis, Marcus – Goodsam.com

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Gander RV and Good Sam Enterprises, and executive chairman of Beyond Inc. (the combined company of Overstock.com and Bed, Bath & Beyond), embodies the epitome of entrepreneurial success and philanthropic commitment. Born in Lebanon during its civil war and abandoned at an orphanage four days after his birth, Lemonis was adopted by Leo and Sophia Lemonis, a couple of Greek and Lebanese heritage, respectively, who lived in Miami, Florida.
Now 50, Lemonis grew up learning about the operations of the automotive industries as his grandfather owned two of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in the country (in Tampa and Miami). At the age of 12, he started a lawn-mowing business to raise funds to open a candy business. At the young age of 22, he tried out politics and ran for the Florida House of Representatives (endorsed by the Miami Herald) but ultimately lost the campaign.
Lemonis eventually took a job at AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealer, and worked his way up to regional manager. By the age of 25, Marcus seized an opportunity to reshape the way recreational vehicles and outdoor equipment were sold after taking some advice from a family friend, Lee Iacocca (the former head of Chrysler Corporation), who told him the path to long-term success lay in finding an industry that was ripe for transformation. Iacocca advised him to get into the camping and RV business, which put him on the path to eventual chairmanship at America’s #1 source for RV’s, camping accessories, and RV maintenance and repair. Under his leadership and vision, Camping World would grow to become the nation’s largest RV retailer – with revenues exceeding $6.5 billion.
Lemonis also founded The Simple Greek, a franchise of fast-casual Greek restaurants in 2015 which was acquired by the parent company of SaladWorks in 2021. In addition, in 2021, Lemonis wrapped his 8-season CNBC reality series ‘The Profit’, which focused on saving and investing in small businesses across the country. The show earned Lemonis the nickname ‘the Business Turnaround King’. The show also spawned spin offs, including the award-nominated ‘Streets of Dreams’, featuring Marcus educating himself and viewers about the financial workings of key industries.
With tens of millions of dollars donated to charitable organizations and invested in independent businesses, Marcus is an advocate for the underdog and finds his strongest inspiration by investing in people. He founded the Lemon-AID foundation in 2020 which supports women and minority entrepreneurs as well as small businesses. He also started a foundation called the Plating Change to combat food insecurity through a partnership with Grubhub and the World Central Kitchen. More recently, Lemonis returned to his alma mater, Marquette University, to which he and his wife, Bobbi Raffelin, donated $15 million to create the Lemonis Center for Student Success, which provides services for students across all majors, academic abilities, and backgrounds to enrich and expand student opportunities. “This initial gift is the start of building the road for others,” he commented.

            1. P. ROY VAGELOS

New Jersey
$492 MILLION (TNHE)
PHARMACEUTICALS, HEALTHCARE
University of Pennsylvania (Chemistry); Married, 4 children

Roy and Diana Vagelos. Photo: David DeBalko / Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

P. Roy Vagelos has served as my role model since the day in 1975 when my father showed me an article in the Greek newspaper [The National Herald] about his similar background and incredible achievements at Merck,” said George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “Since becoming our Chair in 1995, Roy has remained my hero and role model. We will continue to strive to live up to the standard Roy has set of using science to change the practice of medicine and improve lives.”
And there you have it: Dr. Pindaros Roy Vagelos may have officially retired from his post as Chairman of Regeneron – marking the end of an era after a 29-year run – but he has definitely not slowed down. Last year around this time, he and his wife, Diana, announced a $175 million gift to Columbia University to create the Vagelos Institute for Biomedical Research Education. Of the gift, he said it was “our honor to give back.” Since then, the Vageloses have given an additional $83.9 million transformative gift to the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences – the largest single gift ever made to the School and among the largest in Penn’s history. Their total support to Penn Arts & Sciences now stands at $239 million and represents an extraordinary investment in innovation and basic science.
Dr. Vagelos was born in Rahway, NJ in 1929 – just before the infamous stock market crash. In 1943, about 20 years after Vagelos’ parents had emigrated to the U.S. from Asia Minor, Herodotus and Marianthi bought a restaurant (then known as Estelle’s Luncheonette), where Vagelos and his two sisters worked during their adolescence. According to the Columbia University Magazine, the family ate dinner there six nights a week. Vagelos, described as a “violin-playing, sports-loving math whiz at Rahway High,” worked behind the counter every day after school as a soda jerk, a dishwasher, and potato peeler. It was at this restaurant that Vagelos was first introduced to Merck. With the company’s headquarters just a few blocks away, scientists would come have lunch at Estelle’s and speak with the Vagelos family members.
Although he first described himself as ‘not at all interested in education’ – Vagelos eventually earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in 1950 from the University of Pennsylvania. He then went on to earn a medical degree from Columbia University in 1954. After an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (1954-56), he joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. At NIH from 1956 to 1966, he served in the National Heart Institute, holding positions in cellular physiology and biochemistry – first as senior surgeon, then as head of Comparative Biochemistry. And thus started his decades long career.
In 1966, Vagelos joined the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine as chairman of its Biological Chemistry Department where he founded the division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Since then, he has had a long and distinguished career in healthcare, and particularly in pharmaceuticals.
It was in 1975 that Dr. Vagelos left academia to join Merck, which he led with great distinction both as a scientist and as a visionary corporate leader, first as Senior Vice President for Research, and starting in 1984 as CEO. Merck was very respected under his leadership, having been voted ‘America’s Most Admired Corporation’ in the annual Fortune magazine poll for seven consecutive years. During Vagelos’ tenure there, Merck developed the cholesterol-lowering statins, MEVACOR and ZOCOR. Vagelos is sometimes called the father of ‘pharmacophilanthropy’ for his decision that Merck contribute the drug MECTIZAN for free to treat millions of Africans with river blindness.
After retiring from Merck in 1995 (due to the company’s rule that CEOs retire at age 65), Vagelos was approached by biotech company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. From that point, until June of 2023, he served as chairman of the company, which employs almost 10,000 people. It was this later career move that catapulted Vagelos to billionaire status.
The Vageloses’ philanthropic impact spans prestigious academic institutions. At the University of Pennsylvania, they spearheaded elite undergraduate programs and funded cutting-edge research initiatives, including the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories. Their generous contributions, totaling $101.6 million (not including the most recent $83.9M donation), facilitated breakthroughs in energy research and life sciences. The Vageloses’ commitment to addressing climate change echoes their belief in prioritizing global challenges. Their leadership extends to Columbia University Medical Center, where their recent $250 million donation catalyzed debt-free education. The College of Physicians and Surgeons was renamed in honor of the Vagelos family. The Vageloses continued support for education exemplifies their dedication to fostering innovation and access. In another recent gesture, they donated $15 million to advance biology and biomedical sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. The Vageloses’ profound impact on academia underscores their vision for empowering future generations and advancing scientific discovery on a global scale.
The author of several books, including an autobiography (‘Medicine, Science and Merck’), as well as more than 100 scientific papers, Vagelos was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences in 1972 and to the American Philosophical Society in 1993. In addition to holding several board seats, Vagelos has received honorary degrees from 14 institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and Washington Universities. In an interview with Kathimerini, Vagelos joked that he never really retired and likely works just as much now as when he was at Merck.
Vagelos has been married to his wife, Diana (née Touliatos) for almost 70(!) years – having met on Columbia’s campus in 1951 when Vagelos was in medical school and Diana was a student at Barnard. They visit Lesvos and Kefalonia regularly since they have family on both islands. The couple lives in New Jersey and have four children and several grandchildren.

              1. JAMES S. CHANOS

Florida
$400 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
INVESTMENTS
Yale University (Economics & Political Science); 4 children

Photo: istock

Dropping more than 10 spots this year, we have James Chanos. Dubbed the ‘LeBron James of short selling’, ‘Wall Street’s most distinguished bear’, and even the ‘Darth Vader of Wall Street’, James S. Chanos is undeniably a figure of resilience and success. Hailing from Milwaukee, WI, Chanos was born to a second-generation Greek immigrant who owned a dry-cleaning business. In the 1960s, his father, a part-time investor, sparked Chanos’ fascination with the stock market, laying the foundation for a lifelong engagement with finance. Throughout his high school years, Chanos uniquely blended his enthusiasm for basketball with a keen interest in financial literature, setting the stage for his future endeavors. His journey continued at Yale University, where he majored in economics and political science and explored options trading.
Chanos stumbled into the finance sector during his time at Gilford Securities in 1982, where his investigation into Baldwin-United’s accounts uncovered fraudulent activities, leading to the company’s bankruptcy and propelling Chanos’ career forward. In 1985, he established Kynikos Associates (named after the Greek word for ‘cynic’), which grew to become the largest exclusive short-selling hedge fund globally. As Kynikos’ president, he managed its growth, opening offices in New York and London and overseeing a team that handled $1.5 billion in assets. Chanos is celebrated for his sharp insights, notably predicting Enron Corporation’s downfall in 2001, which garnered him recognition from financial circles.
Despite achieving billionaire status, Chanos remains dedicated to uncovering and benefiting from market downturns, including those involving Boston Chicken, Conseco, and Tyco International. In 2020, he strategically shorted several firms, including Luckin Coffee Inc., Wirecard AG, and The Hertz Corporation, showcasing his continued acumen in the field. His expert analyses are frequently highlighted in the media, establishing him as a shrewd financial analyst with a gift for precise forecasts.
In the fall of 2023, after 38 years of remarkable success and significant impact on the financial world, Chanos made the pivotal decision to shutter Kynikos Associates. This decision marks the conclusion of an era for the hedge fund, which had become emblematic of Chanos’ innovative strategies and profound insights in short selling.
Beyond his financial endeavors, Chanos engages in philanthropy, supporting entities like the Washington ‘Oxi’ Day Foundation and holding trusteeships at educational and cultural institutions such as The Nightingale-Bamford School and The New-York Historical Society. He also imparts his wisdom at Yale University, teaching a course on the history of financial fraud. Outside the professional realm, Chanos treasures his annual visits to the Greek island of Mykonos, embracing his Greek roots.

                1. MARTHA STEWART

New York
$400 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
ENTERTAINMENT
Barnard College (Architectural History); 1 child

Stewart, Martha – Gage Skidmore

Here are three very surprising facts about Martha Stewart that many likely did not know: she is now 82 years old, she was once worth more than a billion dollars (in fact, she was reportedly America’s first self-made female billionaire) – but now that number has been more than halved, and she has Greek roots from the island of Kos!
Stewart was the second of six children and grew up in a working-class Polish family in New Jersey. However, at a fundraising event at the Olympic Towers in 2006 she surprised the audience by disclosing that she is of Greek descent (as reported in the National Herald by Liana Sideri). Stewart’s maiden name is Kostyras and her father’s family traces its roots back to the island of Kos in the Dodecanese. She said she had been to Kos and expressed her fondness of the island: “On my father’s side, a long time ago, I found out that I’m Greek, from the beautiful island of Kos. The family ultimately ended up in Poland. I have been to the island of Kos, and I saw the legendary sycamore tree under which Hippocrates is said to have authored his famous Hippocratic oath.”
She paid for her college tuition by taking modeling jobs in New York City and eventually married law student Andrew Stewart in 1961 (divorced 1990). The couple had one daughter, Alexis, who was born in 1965.
After graduating, Stewart worked as a stockbroker at a small Wall Street firm until she and her family moved to Connecticut. She launched her first catering business in 1976 and five years later published her first book, ‘Entertaining’. Following continued success with more books, Time Publishing Ventures teamed up with Stewart in 1990 to publish a monthly magazine: ‘Martha Stewart Living’ – which she eventually bought with the proceeds from her household furnishings merchandising arrangement with Kmart (Martha Stewart Everyday). She then began a syndicated television show with the same name which aired for over a decade.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1999 with Stewart as the chairman and CEO making her a billionaire (briefly) – the company struggled to turn a profit during the following decade, however. Stewart was convicted of insider trading and spent five months in prison (where she reportedly made baked apples and flan for her fellow inmates) followed by five months of home detention. Nevertheless, she persevered and went back to TV. Earlier this year, CNN produced a docu-series ‘titled ‘The Many Lives of Martha Stewart’, which explores the life and career of Stewart. Stewart also just launched her very own MasterClass called ‘Think like a boss, live like a Legend’ – adding to her digital presence, which includes a successful podcast.
Following her highly publicized friendship with Snoop Dog, Martha has tipped her toe in the industry of cannabis – joining a Canadian marijuana company as an advisor. Most recently, they collaborated with the popular lighter brand Bic on the ‘Best Buds Bags’ – handbags that feature the Big EZ Reach Lighter in the bag clasp. Martha also launched a line of CBD-infused gummies which she said Snoop helped inspire. She also made headlines as she became the (oldest ever) Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover Star in 2023.

                  1. JENNIFER ANISTON

California
$320 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
TELEVISION AND FILM
New York’s School of Performing Arts

Jennifer Aniston arrives at the 30th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

It’s hard to believe that Jennifer Aniston is 55 – her killer workouts and Cretan genes are certainly keeping her looking young. Boasting a net worth of $320M according to Celebrity Net Worth, Aniston, the highly accomplished Greek-American actress and producer, has had another busy year. Born to Nancy Dow, a direct descendant of the royal House of Stuart of Scotland, and Greek-born actor John Anastasakis (Aniston), known for his role on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, Aniston spent a year in Greece during her childhood getting acquainted with her father’s family in Crete. Interestingly, Greek Ancestry reported that Aniston’s great-grandfather fought in the Cretan Revolt of 1878 against the Ottomans.
Aniston’s breakthrough in the entertainment industry came with her iconic portrayal of Rachel Green on the sitcom Friends (1994-2004). For the final three seasons, she earned an unprecedented $1 million per episode. In 2018, Aniston made her Netflix debut with the musical comedy ‘Dumplin’. In 2019 she began starring alongside Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell in the Apple TV+ series ‘The Morning Show’ (earning $2M per episode) – which is still ongoing today. In 2023, she starred in and produced ‘Murder Mystery 2’, the sequel to the 2019 comedy/mystery, and is reportedly working on the third film in the series. Her ongoing success is reflected in the numerous awards she has received, including a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy, and two SAG Awards; she also received her own Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in February 2013 – the first actor from Friends to be honored with a star.
Besides being a talented actress, Aniston has also ventured into directing and producing. Her influential persona has made her a sought-after spokesperson for brands such as Aveeno, Vitamin Water, and most recently, functional fitness brand, Pvolve.
Before her acting career, Aniston attended New York’s School of Performing Arts. Despite her father’s reservations, Aniston followed her passion for acting and defied his advice to become a lawyer. “I was hell-bent because my dad was just begging me not to be in the industry. He said, ‘I do not want your heart broken. The rejection is brutal. Please, please, please don’t do that. Become a lawyer,'” she said. “That was my one rebellion. I was hoping that I was going to make it so that I could prove him wrong.”
Aniston is also renowned for her philanthropic work. Over the years, she has made significant contributions to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, AmeriCares, and Feeding America, among others. She has also been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and has hosted charity shows like ‘Stand Up For Cancer’ and ‘It Can’t Wait’.
According to the Evening Standard, Aniston is ‘real-life’ friends with fellow Greek, Rita Wilson (featured supra), and is part of her ‘regular dinner crew’.

                    1. STELIOS PAPADOPOULOS

New York
$278 MILLION (WallMine)
BIOTECHNOLOGY
New York University

Papadopoulos, Stelios – YouTube

The Greek-born Stelios Papadopoulos, 74, has been referred to by some as ‘the godfather of biotech’. He joined the board of directors of publicly held pharma company Biogen in 2008, rising to the Chairman position in June 2014. However, in June 2023, Papadopoulos stepped down from his position in order to comply with the company’s mandatory retirement age policy.
Papadopoulos is the founder of six different companies including Eucrates Biomedical Acquisition Corp. (which he founded in 2020). He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Exelixis, Inc., a drug discovery and development company that he co-founded in 1994. He is also the Chairman of Regulus Therapeutics, Inc., a life sciences company. He co-founded Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in 2000 and was a member of its Board of Directors until it was sold to Roche in 2011 for $230M, serving as the Chairman of the board in 2011.
From 2003 to 2018, Papadopoulos served as a member of the board of directors of BG Medicine, Inc., a publicly-held life sciences company. In 2006, Papadopoulos retired as Vice Chairman of Cowen & Co., LLC, a financial services company, after six years with the firm where, as an investment banker, he focused on the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. Prior to joining Cowen, he spent 13 years as an investment banker at PaineWebber, Inc., where he was most recently Chairman of PaineWebber Development Corp., a PaineWebber subsidiary focusing on biotechnology. He joined PaineWebber in 1987 from Drexel Burnham Lambert where, as an analyst in the Equity Research Department, he covered the biotechnology industry. Prior to Drexel, he was the biotechnology analyst of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
In the not-for-profit sector, Dr. Papadopoulos is a co-founder and Chairman of Fondation Santé, a member of the Board of Visitors of Duke Medicine, and a member of the Global Advisory Board of the Duke Institute for Health Innovation.
Papadopoulos holds an MS in physics, a PhD in biophysics and an MBA in finance, all from New York University. Before going to Wall Street, Dr. Papadopoulos was on the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology at New York University School of Medicine.

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