2021 marks the third year that I am spearheading this incredible project. In the long, glorious history of the United States, a nation of immigrants, there are reasons why Hellenes are among the cream of the crop.
How did they get there?
Who are those Greeks?
We have done a great job of cataloging the great success of the history of our people but there is no reason that it should stop in the modern era. Since our Greek-American fathers and forefathers arrived on the American shores, they have created – through blood, sweat and tears – empires, and amassed great wealth for themselves and their families. They have instilled in us, the younger generation, a great sense of pride and relatedness – regardless of whether we have met these high-net individuals first hand. Their stories, their hardships are familiar to us all. Although many of those on this list have appeared in previous issues, their tales never lose their luster. Year after year, I can’t help but feel a renewed admiration for our people, our culture, our perseverance, and our work ethic. This year has been an especially difficult one, but again, the Hellenes in America today are the gold standard of how a community supports each other and persists no matter the challenges and obstacles faced.
While we may subconsciously think that the American Dream is nothing more than a fairytale from the past, I encourage you to read the biographies of those featured carefully. Many of them were met with incredible hardships along their way to wealth and success; some of them not amassing their fortunes until well into their 50s or 60s.
Among the many things that sets Greek-Americans apart from other cultures is our commitment to family and our principles. It is noteworthy that despite achieving great success, the individuals on this list were able to instill the same ideals that they grew up with in their children – whether or not they were able to make it home for family dinner every night or not. Many of the sons and daughters of these high-net individuals have continued the legacy of their parents – often bringing it to new heights with fresh ideas, but also maintaining a respect for tradition.
America’s genius has always been its ability to attract the world’s brightest minds and hardest-working people and have them live alongside each other to advance the common good – while at the same time maintaining and advancing the history, culture and religion of the countries they came from. Our list proves that Greeks have been contributing mightily to the American success story for as long as they have been coming to these shores in the hopes of a better life for themselves and for their families. This courage is the indispensable kindling needed for the patented American entrepreneurial approach to work, a culture that creates jobs and fortunes.
Our community is blessed to have individuals such as the ones listed below – regardless of whether they hail from Greece, Cyprus, or are ‘homebred’ here in America – as role models. Many of the people on our list are in their 80s and 90s and still go to their offices every day – and frankly, they have no plans of slowing down. So, while the numbers associated with their net worths may be the most ‘fun’ part to skim in this issue, it is by far the least valuable. Contrastingly, what is most valuable is each person’s unique – but also incredibly familiar story. Many of you may be surprised at how much we all have in common and I wouldn’t disregard the fact that you may get some ideas or inspiration on what steps to take next in your own lives and careers, regardless of what stage you might currently be in.
Although countless hours were spent researching the various individuals featured on our list, we are aware that this list is not all encompassing (some individuals do not like to be in the public eye), and that the net worth of the individuals are approximations (i.e., the stock market’s daily fluctuations may cause some people’s net worth to change minute by minute). This is a ‘problem’ that is not unique to The National Herald but also to Forbes, for example, which is widely regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of such rankings.
We as a community of Greeks and Cypriots stand proudly by our fellow countrymen and women and salute their massive accomplishments in a land far away from the homeland as they keep their Hellenic roots strong. We invite you, once again, to enhance this list by letting us know of any information – including, perhaps, a particular Greek-American we may have overlooked – so that this Special Edition can continue to get better and better, year after year.
And so, without further ado, these are the selected 50 Hellenes on The National Herald’s list this year, άξιοι!
50. ALBERT BOURLA
$30 MILLION (TNHE)
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Biotechnology of Reproduction); Married, 2 children
This year’s list will end with hope, survival and newfound optimism as Dr. Albert Bourla rounds off our wealthiest Greeks in America.
Dr. Bourla is a Greek business executive and veterinarian, who currently serves as the chief executive officer of the American pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer. He is known for his push for aggressive timelines in Pfizer’s development of a vaccine against COVID-19 and is credited with helping with the development of that lifesaving vaccine.
Born and raised in Thessaloniki to Sephardic Jewish parents who were among the 2,000 (of the 50,000 living in Salonika) that survived the German invasion of Greece during the Holocaust, Bourla began his career in Greece. He earned his doctorate in the biotechnology of reproduction at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki's Veterinary School before taking on the role as Technical Director in the Pfizer Animal Health Division in Greece. Since then, Bourla has lived and worked in eight different cities, in five different countries. In an exclusive interview with TNH, Bourla had this to say about his native Greece: “No matter how many times I move around or where I live, Greece will always be my home. Let's not forget that I lived in Greece into my thirties, so I had a whole life in Greece. I still have all my Greek friends and every summer I return and enjoy meeting up with everyone. I am honored to be Greek and it’s very much a part of who I am. It is a privilege to lead Pfizer at such a pivotal time in our company’s history – and the history of global health in general. I hope, in some small way, it may inspire others to know that they can move around and lead others and still be who they are.”
During his more than 25 years at Pfizer, Bourla has built a diverse and successful career, holding a number of senior global positions across a range of markets and disciplines. Prior to taking the reins as CEO in January 2019, Albert served as Pfizer’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) beginning in January 2018, responsible for overseeing the Company’s commercial strategy, manufacturing, and global product development functions.
In 2020, Bourla was ranked as America’s top CEO in the Pharmaceuticals sector by Institutional Investor magazine. He is on the executive committee of The Partnership for New York City, a vice president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, a director on multiple boards – Pfizer, Inc., The Pfizer Foundation, PhRMA, and Catalyst – and a trustee of the United States Council for International Business. He is also a member of the Business Roundtable and the Business Council.
Bourla is committed to his Salonika roots and economic cooperation between the U.S. and Greece. According to the National Journal, he has led Pfizer’s effort to help Greece’s economic recovery; he has organized vaccine donations, medical aid for refugees, and more than $1 million in medicine to help uninsured patients; he has established a new tech hub in his hometown, the Pfizer Artificial Intelligence Center, that will provide around 200 jobs; and he has directed Pfizer’s participation in the Thessaloniki International Fair.
Dr. Bourla now lives in New York with his wife, Myriam, and the rest of their family.
49. ART ZAFIROPOULO
$40 MILLION (NetWorth Labs)
Northeastern (Engineering); Married
New on our list this year is Arthur Zafiropoulo. Born to Greek parents in a suburb of Boston, Zafiropoulo grew up in a relatively poor environment – saying that although his parents worked ‘very, very hard,’ they were never able to buy their own home. Nevertheless, he attended Northeastern University where he majored in engineering. In an interview with Semi.org, Zafiropoulo described where his interest for engineering may have come from: “When I was growing up, my father was very interested in cars…and mechanical engineering. He later became a watchmaker. When he first started working in the U.S., he worked at a clothing store called Scott’s. It was a high end store where he designed clothes for [President] Roosevelt, the Pope, and a number of other [famous people]. But when the industry shifted from manual designs to automation, cutting clothing with band saws, he decided to leave. During the same time, he was working as a jeweler, repairing watches at home. He was mechanically inclined – so he opened a jewelry store and progressed from that point. I guess between the cars and his knowledge of mechanical configurations it sort of just rubbed off on me. Engineering was an important part of my life, and I think mainly from him.”
Noted for both his leadership skills and technical expertise throughout the semiconductor industry since 1965, Zafiropoulo became president of Ultratech Stepper (now Ultratech, Inc.) in 1990, and in 1993 led the management buyout and subsequently drove one of the industry’s most successful IPOs. Ultratech is known as a multinational company that developed, manufactured, and marketed photolithography and laser thermal processing. He served as Chairman and CEO of the company until recently.
In addition to holding several U.S. and foreign patents, Zafiropoulo has led numerous private and public high-tech companies resulting in industry recognitions including SEMI’s first Bob Graham Award for Marketing Excellence and induction into VLSI Research’s Semiconductor Industry Hall of Fame. He serves as Director Emeritus of the Board of Directors for SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International), a global trade association representing the semiconductor, flat-panel display equipment and materials industry.
Most recently, Zafiropoulo joined PrinterPrezz's board of advisors. The company’s mission is to bring more ideas for innovative medical devices to market faster, connecting medicine and manufacturing in an effort to become the first ‘Medifacturing’ company in the world. By developing advanced medical devices using processes that combine expertise in 3D printing, orthopaedics, semiconductor and nanotechnologies, PrinterPrezz’s ultimate goal is to provide medical solutions that enable people to enjoy active lives longer.
Zafiropoulo established an endowed faculty chair in engineering (with a $2.5 million gift) at Northeastern University. He is also founder and owner of the successful Ferrari dealership of Silicon Valley, one of the largest in North America.
48. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
$43 MILLION (TNHE)
Columbia University (Political Science); Married, 2 children
George Stephanopoulos was born to first-generation Greek-American parents, Nickolitsa and Robert George, in Massachusetts but grew up in Cleveland, OH. He attended Columbia University and in 1983 won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Stephanopoulos’ father is a Greek-Orthodox priest and dean emeritus of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City. His mother was the director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America National News Service for many years.
Stephanopoulos reportedly long considered entering priesthood but ended up in politics and media. After beginning his career in Washington, D.C., he worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of fellow Greek-American Michael Dukakis in 1988 and then served as an aide to an Ohio Congressman. Stephanopoulos later helped with Bill Clinton’s 1991 presidential campaign. After the election, he became White House Communications Direct, and later, the Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy. In 1999, he published his memoir, All Too Human: A Political Education (an account of the 1992 and 1996 Clinton campaigns and of Clinton’s first term in office), which became a New York Times best-seller.
Stephanopoulos joined ABC News in 1997 as an analyst for This Week. Today, he serves as ABC’s News’ Chief anchor as well as an anchor of Good Morning America and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. For more than a decade, his range and expertise have played a pivotal role at the network – garnering him three Emmys, a DuPont, three Murrows, and two Cronkite Awards. In September 2016, Stephanopoulos was also featured on a €1 Greek postage stamp, along with other notable Greek-Americans.
In the spring of 2020, Stephanopoulos announced that a few weeks after his wife Alexandra (Ali) Wenworth, an actress and comedian, contracted COVID-19, he did as well. He was largely asymptomatic.
Stephanopoulos married Ali in 2001 at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity where Stephanopoulos’ father performed the ceremony. The two were engaged after only dating for two months. According to the New York Times, Stephanopoulos openly mentioned during their wedding that, "I knew within 24 hours, I would not ever dare risk losing her." The couple has two daughters: Elliott Anastasia and Harper Andrea.
47. CRISS ANGEL
$50 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos was born on December 19, 1967 in the Town of North Hempstead, NY, to Dimitra and John Sarantakos. His father owned and ran a successful restaurant and doughnut shop.
Angel became interested in magic around the age of seven after his aunt Stella showed him a card trick. After graduating from high school, Angel opted not to go to college. Instead, he chose to follow the path of being a professional magician. He educated himself by going to public libraries frequently where he studied magic, music, mysticism, and even martial arts. He practiced his trade in relative obscurity until he caught a big break in 1994 – appearing in a major prime time television special titled Secrets.
Angel’s popularity grew exponentially, so he decided to venture to the A&E Network to launch a reality show. Criss Angel: Mindfreak debuted on the A&E Network in 2005 and stayed on the air until 2011. The shows were shot in Las Vegas and featured Angel performing a number of mesmerizing illusions. The illusions often gave off a sense of danger and this contributed to the popularity of the program.
Angel’s live performance illusion show titled Criss Angel Believe at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas generated $150 million dollars in tourist revenue for the city in 2010. In 2018 he was ranked number three on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid magicians.
Angel and his brothers J.D. and Costa founded the BELIEVE Charitable Foundation in 2007 in the loving memory of their father John who passed away in 1998. The foundation works for the benefit of children, especially those suffering from debilitating illnesses and diseases. He also actively supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Angel won the International Magician Society's Magician of the Decade title in 2009 and Magician of the Century title in 2010. He is the only magician to have won the Merlin Magician of the Year twice. In 2017, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Angel holds the records for longest time submerged underwater (24 hours), the longest body suspension (5 hours, 42 minutes), and the fastest straightjacket escape (2 minutes, 30 seconds).
As a result of COVID-19, Criss Angel had to cancel his long-hosted show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. However, Angel is in the works of developing a virtual crossover of EDM music and his trademark showmanship. He is also said to be partnering with Franco Dragone (the creative mind behind Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion’s “A New Day”) on a revolutionary new project to open later in 2021.
Angel has two children, Johnny Crisstopher (2014) and Xristos Yannis (2019). His first born was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia – a form of cancer. Unfortunately, in December of 2020, Angel announced that his son Johnny Crisstopher’s cancer had returned after a few months of remission. In May, Angel donated $250,000 worth of food (enough to sustain 100 families for six to eight weeks) and show tickets to families at Cure4TheKids – a non-profit organization that treats children battling cancer.
46. TOMMY LEE
$74 MILLION (TNHE)
Married, 2 children
Born Thomas Lee Bass in Athens in 1962 to American Oliver Bass and Vassiliki Papadimitriou, a 1957 contestant in the Miss Greece beauty pageant, he is best known throughout the hard rock/heavy metal world as Tommy Lee. He received his first drum when he was four years old, and grew up listening to classic hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, the Sweet, Van Halen, and Cheap Trick. Drummers John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Alex Van Halen of Van Halen are two of his biggest influences.
Two of Hollywood’s most glamorous women of the 1980s and 1990s, Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson, were married to Lee (not at the same time!). He was a founding member and the drummer for Motley Crue, one of the definitive bands of heavy metal/hard rock.
Lee formed Motley Crue in 1981 along with lead singer Vince Neil, Bassist Nikki Six, and guitarist Mick Mars. The band soared to great heights in the 1980s, capitalizing on the birth of music television on channels such as MTV and later VH1. Lee embarked on a solo career in the 1990s, briefly returning to Motley Crue for a reunion, and then resuming his solo career, which has included albums and extensive touring.
Lee lived the life of a typical rock star of the times, including bouts of alcohol and drug abuse, and even trouble with the law. He has been married four times, his second and third wives were the well-known actresses Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. He and Anderson have two children. From 2014 to 2017, Lee was engaged to Greek-German singer Sofia Toufa. Ever the Greek romantic in search of love, Tommy Lee wed for the fourth time in 2019 to internet personality and former Vine comedian Brittany Furlan.
His bad boy image notwithstanding, Lee is a staunch supporter of animal rights and avidly involved in the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In December of 2019, Lee sent a letter to Minister for Agricultural Development and Food, Makis Voridis, blasting the “sickening abuse” of donkeys and mules that are used on the island of Santorini to take tourists and belongings around the island, calling for the practice to stop.
From 2014 to 2015, Lee rejoined Motley Crue for a special “Final Four” tour, during which they would give their adoring fans what they want most – seeing the original members live one last time – and then promised to have legal papers drawn to formally end their joint touring in the future. Lee then left Motley Crue and told Rolling Stone in 2016 that "it was really cool to finish where we started. We accomplished everything we set out to do."
In early 2018, Kerrang! reported that Machine Gun Kelly, the rapper and actor, would portray Lee in a Motley Crue biographical film. The Dirt (with a 7/10 rating on IMDB) was released on Netflix in the first half of 2019. Most recently, on October 16, 2020 Tommy Lee released his third solo album, titled “Andro”. Lee also famously threatened to leave the United States and permanently move to his country of birth, Greece, if former President Donald J. Trump won a second term in November of 2020.
45. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
$70 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Giannis Sina Ougko Antetokounmpo, 26, is a Greek professional basketball player for the NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks. His nationality, in addition to his combination of size, speed and ball-handling skills earned him the nickname ‘Greek Freak’.
A bona fide NBA superstar, and the NBA's reigning two-time Most Valuable Player, whose fame has reached most corners of the world, Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece to Nigerian immigrants from Lagos. Although he and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically receive full Greek citizenship as the Greek nationality law abides by the jus sanguinis. For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo was effectively stateless, having no papers from Nigeria or Greece. After gaining Greek citizenship in 2013, his family Hellenized their surname from Adetokunbo to Antetokounmpo to more closely follow Greek spelling rules. Giannis grew up in the Sepolia neighborhood in Athens and due to harsh working conditions for immigrants in Greece, he and his brothers helped his parents financially by hawking items on the street.
Giannis’ basketball journey began in 2007, when he was first introduced to the sport. Within three years, he was playing on local club Filathlitikos’ youth squad. In 2011, he was called up to the senior squad of Filathlitikos which competed in the Greek Basket League (Third Division) before the team was promoted to the Greek A2 League (Second Division) for the 2012-2013 season.
In 2013, Antetokounmpo declared himself eligible for that year’s NBA draft where he was selected in the first round with the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. At the conclusion of his rookie season, Giannis was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. After continuing to impress despite his young age, on September 19, 2016 Antetokounmpo signed a four-year $100 million contract extension with Milwaukee. The contract reflected the superstar that Giannis had become and the faith that the Bucks had that he would only get better. In his seven NBA seasons to date, Antetokounmpo has been selected five times as an NBA All-Star, an All-Star Captain (twice), and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. Right before the close of 2020, he signed another five-year extension with the Bucks – reportedly worth $228 million.
In addition to his exploits at the club level with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, Giannis is a proud member of the Greek Men’s National Basketball Team. Giannis is one of four brothers born to Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo. His father Charles passed away following a heart attack at the age of 54 in Milwaukee, WI.
Giannis is an active member in the Milwaukee metro-area philanthropic community and has never forgotten his Greek roots. He gives back to Greece whenever possible and is the poster-child of Greek tourism, Aegean Airlines, recycling initiatives, and most recently pandemic safety in Greece. He also announced that he will be funding an indoor basketball court near Mati, east of Athens, where 100 people lost their lives in an infamous fire, so that the community can continue to heal following the losses sustained. In Greece, Giannis is contributing to the growth of basketball for the youth by organizing basketball tournaments and revitalizing, as well as creating, basketball courts in his native neighborhood of Sepolia in Athens.
Giannis is currently unmarried, though he is in a relationship with former Rice University volleyball standout Mariah Riddlesprigger, who gave birth to their son, Liam Charles on February 10, 2020. Three of Giannis’ brothers play basketball professionally: Thanasis for the Milwaukee Bucks (alongside Gianni); Kostas for the Los Angeles Lakers; and Alexandros for the UCAM Murcia of the Spanish Liga ACB.
44. TINA FEY
$75 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
University of Virginia (Drama); Married, 2 children
With a celebrity star continuing to rise with no peak yet in sight, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, known to the world as Tina, added to her net worth in 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Fey’s maternal grandmother, Vasiliki Kourelakou, emigrated to the United States by herself in 1921 from the village of Petrina. Although Fey’s father was not Greek, Zenobia (nee Xenakis), her mother, spoke Greek at home with her children and took them to church every Sunday. Knowing from an early age that she was destined for a career in comedy, the native Pennsylvanian (from the predominantly Greek suburb of Upper Darby), now 50, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) more than twenty years ago. She had a successful stint on the show’s consistently popular Weekend Update mock news segment, where she brought up her Greek heritage on more than one occasion (in one episode, she poked fun of the retirement age in Greece by proclaiming: “What did you say? Retire at 54? Really? Αλήθεια? Greek people in America work the register at the diner until they die…”)
Also a writer and producer (she was the first female head writer in SNL history), Fey has won nine Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Producers Guild Awards, and seven Writers Guild of America Awards. In 2010, she was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the award. Fey created, wrote for, and starred in the multi award-winning sitcom 30 Rock (it received 112 Emmy nominations in total). Fey also co-created the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011 and was proclaimed the best comedian of the 21st century by The Guardian
She has appeared in (or voiced) numerous feature films including Martin & Orloff (2002), Mean Girls (2004), Baby Mama (2008), The Invention of Lying (2009), Megamind (2010), Date Night (2010), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016), Wine Country (2019) and most recently, Soul, where she voiced the co-lead role in the Pixar fantasy comedy adventure.
In 2011, she released her memoir, Bossypants, which topped The New York Times Best Seller list for five weeks and garnered her a Grammy Award nomination. Fey also created the musical adaptation of Mean Girls, which premiered on Broadway in 2018, and earned her a Tony Award nomination. Fey also executive produced one of the first original series for NBCU’s streaming platform, Peacock. Girls5Eva is a comedy about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s that reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot. She also executive produced the NBC sitcom Mr. Mayor and is working on another (animated) series, Mulligan, for Netflix.
Fey takes on many causes, including having done benefits and fundraisers for various charities including Autism Speaks and Mercy Corps, a global relief and development organization trying to end world hunger. She is also vocal about gender roles in America, having told Town & Country magazine in 2016 that, when she hears that this might be a great time for women in comedy, she responds: “No, it's a terrible time. If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.”
Most recently, Fey, along with her frequent sidekick Amy Poehler hosted the 2021 Golden Globe Awards with the pair airing their MC duties via web from opposite coasts.
In 1994 Fey began dating Jeff Richmond, a pianist who later became a composer on 30 Rock. They married in a Greek Orthodox ceremony on June 3, 2001. They have two daughters, Alice, born September 2005, and Penelope Athena, August 2011.
43. HOWARD LORBER
Greek-American magician Criss Angel. (Photo via Facebook)
$89 MILLION (WallMine)
REAL ESTATE, INVESTMENTS, FOOD
Long Island University; Married, 2 children
Although his name may not sound Greek, Howard Lorber, new on our list this year, has Greek roots and is an advocate for our community.
Lorber is the Chairman of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms with over 7,000 employees, and the President and CEO of Vector Group Ltd. and its wholly owned subsidiary, New Valley, LLC. In addition to these roles, Lorber also serves as the Executive Chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Inc., which is headquartered in Jericho, NY.
In 2017, Lorber received a Presidential appointment to serve as Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In an interview with Leaders Magazine, Lorber discussed his family history and why he was interested in becoming the Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. “My grandmother and grandfather were Greek Jews born in Thessaloniki. Greece had 100,000 Jews and 50,000 of them lived in this area of Greece. Ninety-five thousand of those 100,000 Jews were killed. In Thessaloniki, 48,000 of the 50,000 were taken to Auschwitz and murdered. Luckily, my grandparents were able to come to the United States years before World War II. I remember my grandmother telling me that my grandfather died so young because he had lost his will to live as a result of every single relative and every person he knew having had been murdered. When I looked at getting involved in the museum, those whom I’d spoken to who had been involved in the past all described the experience as life-changing. I then accepted the opportunity to become the Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.”
Lorber was honored with the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award by the ‘Oxi’ Day Foundation, which highlights the courage of the Greeks during the Holocaust.
42. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
George Stephanopoulos. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
$100 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
University of Cambridge (Economics); 2 children
Back on our list this year, Arianna Huffington has doubled her net worth since the last time she was featured. Catapulted to fame by her (married) namesake news site, Arianna has proven to be a true, modern, (Greek) Renaissance woman – or, “the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus,” as she was once described.
Huffington, nee Ariadne Anna Stassinopoulos, was born in 1950 Athens, Greece, to Elli (a Red Cross worker) and Konstantinos. She was raised by her mother in a one-bedroom apartment with her sister, Agapi. Her father was a newspaperman. During World War II, when Germany occupied Greece, he was publishing an underground newspaper but was eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp where he spent the rest of the war. Afterwards, he recovered at a sanatorium in Greece where he met Arianna’s future mother, who was recovering from TB.
In a 2010 interview published on the website Inc., Arianna said she got her knack for relationships from her mother: She was capable of having an impersonal relationship with anybody. “The delivery man would arrive at the house, and she'd say, ‘Sit down; have something to eat.’ As a result, I find it very easy to connect with people. And that's part of the Huffington Post. I'm bringing in voices – some well-known, some not – and providing a platform.”
Stassinopoulos left Greece for Great Britain during her teens and studied at the University of Cambridge before moving to the U.S. in 1980. The following year, she released an acclaimed biography of one of the world’s opera greats – Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend.
Stassinopoulos eventually married Michael Huffington, who held a position in the U.S. Department of Defense, and the couple had two children. The two later divorced, but Arianna kept his last name.
In 2005, Stassinopoulos (now Huffington) launched the online site The Huffington Post, serving as its co-founder and editor-in-chief. In March of 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post Media Group for $315 million (the company is now owned by BuzzFeed). In 2016, she announced that she was leaving the company in order to start Thrive Global, a health and wellness venture. She has authored 15 books, including Thrive where she makes an ‘impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world’ – after her own experience of collapsing as a result of exhaustion and lack of sleep while she was president and editor of the Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington also tipped her toe in the film industry and executive produced Valley of the Boom, a docuseries about the tech boom of the 1990s that was released in 2019.
Huffington has been named to the Forbes Most Powerful Women list as well as the Most Influential Women in Media list. She was also named to Time Magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people and The Guardian’s Top 100 in Media list.
41. GEORGE SCANGOS
FILE – In this Feb. 26, 2019 file photo, Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer, prepares to testify before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug prices, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
$110 MILLION (WallMine)
If there was one thing to celebrate in 2020, it was science and those behind it. George Scangos joins several other elite Greeks on our list this year whose intelligence, strength, and perseverance helped us all get through one of the hardest, if not the hardest, year of our lives.
Scangos, 72, is the president, chief executive officer and director of VIR Biotechnology, a clinical-stage immunology company focused on combining immunologic insights with cutting-edge technologies to treat and prevent serious infectious diseases. Prior to joining VIR, Scangos served as the chief executive officer of Biogen Inc., a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of serious diseases. He also held leadership positions at Exelixis and Bayer Biotechnology. Before joining Bayer Biotechnology in 1987, Scangos was a Professor of Biology at Johns Hopkins University.
Scangos grew up in the working class Greek neighborhood of Lynn, MA. He spoke no English when he entered elementary school and according to Forbes, didn't like science until he fell in love with biology at Cornell.
As of January 2021, VIR has an antibody in phase 3 testing for COVID-19, which the company is developing with GlaxoSmithKline. According to Fierce Biotech, the partners have an additional antibody to treat the virus in preclinical studies, and VIR is working with RNAi pioneer Alnylam on an siRNHA treatment for the virus as well. Although VIR seems to be lagging other players in the antibody race, Scangos seems confident his company’s approach will yield a more effective treatment. In the interview with Fierce Biotech, he said: “When the COVID outbreak began, we isolated antibodies from COVID patients. But it was antibodies from SARS patients that were critical to landing on the best treatment. The rationale was that any antibody against SARS that is also able to neutralize COVID must recognize a shared ‘epitope’, the region of the antigen that elicits the immune response.” According to VIR’s scientists, that epitope, which VIR and its partner are targeting, is less likely to mutate and more likely to be vital for the functioning of the virus. It is also worth noting that the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the world's largest biotech trade association, tapped Scangos in March of last year to head its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 is not the only disease Scangos and his team are focusing on. The company has teamed up with Gilead Sciences to test its hepatitis B treatment. They have also been focused on influenza A. In the interview with Fierce Biotech, Scangos emphasized the importance of companies like his own that are focused on finding solutions to infectious diseases. He said: “There are so many infectious diseases, both in the developing world and the developed world, that need better therapies. The need for new treatments is even more obvious now with COVID.” Never forgetting about his roots, Scangos participated in an online video conference with other executives of top pharmaceutical firms and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss creating a strong and competitive pharmaceutical sector in Greece.
Dr. Scangos currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Cornell University and the Board of Overseers of the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Scangos received his BA in Biology from Cornell University, a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and was a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University.
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