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The Greek-born Papadopoulos, 72, joined the board of directors of publicly held pharma company Biogen in 2008, rising to the Chairman position in June 2014. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Exelixis, Inc., a drug discovery and development company that he co-founded in 1994 and is 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 its acquisition by Hoffman-La Roche in 2011, serving as the Chairman of the board during 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. Papadopoulos retired as Vice Chairman of Cowen & Co., LLC, a financial services company, in 2006, 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.
Most recently, in October 2020, Papadopoulos closed a $100 million raise in a SPAC as he seeks a biotech partner to go public through a reverse merger. The SPAC, called Eucrates Biomedical Acquisition, priced at $10 per share and each share comes with one-third of a warrant that can be used to buy shares at $11.50 each.
More recently, Papadopoulos has been in the news as Biogen tries to improve the prospects of its FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatment, Aduhelm. Meanwhile, Samsung Biologics recently announced plans for a $2.3B buy-out of Biogen’s stake in their joint venture, Samsung Bioepis.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Papadopoulos was among the signatories in a pledge initiated by Ovid Therapeutics CEO and former Teva Pharmaceutical CEO, Jeremy Levin, which announced their intention to stop doing business with Russian companies.
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 Ph.D. 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. He maintains his affiliation with NYU as an adjunct associate professor of cell biology.
29. CONSTANTINE IORDANOU
$273 MILLION (WallMine)
New York University (Engineering); Married, 3 children
Constantine ‘Dinos’ Iordanou, 71, was president, CEO and Chairman of the board of Arch Capital Group, Ltd, a Bermuda-based insurance/reinsurance global entity until 2018.
The son of a policeman, Iordanou was born in Cyprus, the eldest of six children. In an interview with Risk & Insurance, Iordanou recalls that in the house of his father “you were expected to work hard and make something of yourself. All of the kids had jobs after school. The money they earned was theirs for pocket money – but sometimes it was needed to help the family cover its grocery bills.”
When Iordanou was 17, he boarded the SS Queen Anna Maria to the United States by himself. After 17 days, he arrived in America and called his father who asked him whether he had gotten a job already and whether he had registered for school – not whether he was OK. Iordanou settled in Astoria, NY with one of his uncles. His first job was pumping gas at a Shell station; he also washed dishes in a nursing home, drove a cab, and worked as a cook. Iordanou ended up working his way through New York University, earning a BS in aerospace engineering (and playing on the school’s soccer team!) before entering the insurance industry as a trainee at American International Group (AIG). He started working upwards of 80 hours a week – not because it was asked of him, but because he wanted to.
According to Risk & Insurance, Iordanou’s big break came after the passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1976, which called for closer governance of hazardous waste disposal. Iordanou was given the responsibility of creating an environmental liability group at AIG. It was after this that Hank Greenberg, then AIG chairman, noticed him. In 1987 he moved on to Berkshire Hathaway, where he worked his way up to heading their commercial casualty operations. From March 1992 through December 2001, Iordanou served in various capacities for Zurich Financial Services and its affiliates
Iordanou then joined Bermuda-based Arch (NASDAQ: ACGL) in December 2001 as its president and member of its board of directors. In 2003, Iordanou was appointed president and CEO of Arch Capital Group, Ltd. and five years later he was appointed chairman of the board. In 2015, Fortune Magazine named him as one of its businesspersons of the year. He retired from the company in March 2018, his stated reasons for retiring were to spend more time with his grandchildren, focus on philanthropy, play golf, travel for leisure, and many other activities.
Iordanou is also a director at Verisk Analytics, Inc. and has served as chairman of the American Insurance Association (AIA) and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR). He is a founding member and lifetime trustee of the Pancyprian Association of America which was established in 1975. He is also a founding member of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism.
In September of 2020, the Bank of Cyprus added Iordanou to its board of directors. Additionally, in December, Iordanou and another longtime industry executive, Greg Hendrick, launched a Bermuda-based private equity backed insurer and reinsurer, Vantage Risk. Private equity firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman, together with Vantage’s management, have invested $1 billion in the company.
Iordanou has previously served as a trustee of Roosevelt University and the College of Insurance and Risk Management. His awards include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (1999).
Iordanou is married to Marianne Iordanou and they have three children. In May of 2018, Iordanou and Marianne received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Our Lady of Mercy Academy for his philanthropic efforts and in May of 2016 by the PanCyprian Association, whose president, Philip Christopher, said that they were honoring him in particular because he never forgot his roots. Christopher said, “he has been a trustee of our association from day one and as CEO of Arch, he went to Cyprus and opened an office there employing 20 Greek Cypriots. Hopefully other companies will follow.”
28. JENNIFER ANISTON
$300 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
TELEVISION AND FILM
New York’s School of Performing Arts
Born to Nancy Dow (a direct descendant of the royal House of Stuart of Scotland – making her a royal) and Greek-born daytime soap opera star John Aniston (originally Yiannis Anastassakis) of Days of Our Lives fame, Jennifer Aniston spent a year of her childhood in Greece getting to know her father’s family. Of course, Aniston herself is known internationally, rising to huge success with her role as Rachel Green on the evergreen sitcom, Friends (1994-2004), which earned Aniston a then-record $1 million per episode for the last three seasons of the show. As the show continues to thrive in reruns and streaming – its recent move to HBO Max costing an impressive $425 million – Aniston has built an ever-evolving career and fortune. Her course can be described in terms of her own filmography as going from Friends to Friends with money.
Honored with numerous accolades including a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy Award and two SAG Awards, Aniston continues to appear in films and on TV, showing of her skills in a body of work that has provided many layers to her original ‘girl-next-door’ image. In 2018, Aniston made her Netflix debut with the musical comedy Dumplin. In 2019 she begun starring alongside Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell in the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show (earning $2M per episode).
Aniston began her professional training as a drama student at New York’s School of Performing Arts – a division of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts. In 2015, Aniston told Collider that although she had a love for the theater growing up in New York City, her parents were pretty strict on her time in front of the television. “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.”
While she was at school, Aniston thought there was something wrong with her – she thought she was ‘stupid’ – but was later diagnosed as dyslexic. She went on to appear in various off-Broadway productions, television series and films, until 1994 when Friends came along.
Besides her lucrative acting career, Aniston is in demand as a spokeswoman for brands such as Aveeno and Vitamin Water.
The actress has also been a director and producer in recent years. She directed one of five segments that made up the cable TV movie Five (2011), which focused on women living with breast cancer and was one of 100 artists and other public figures to narrate the documentary film Unity (2015), which “investigates human existence and interconnectivity.” She received her own Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in February 2013 – the first actor from Friends to be honored with a star.
Aniston has assisted and worked with many charities like Rain (an anti-sexual assault organization), St. Jude’s, and various cancer-fighting organizations. She was also named GQ magazine’s first ever Woman of the Year in 2005 and was Ellen Degeneres’ very first guest for the very first episode of The Ellen Show in 2003.
Aniston’s personal life is often a source of media attention, especially her relationships with actors Brad Pitt, whom she first met on a blind date and later married from 2000 to 2005, and Justin Theroux, whom she wed in 2015, although the couple announced in 2018 that they were divorcing. 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’.
Aniston is a well-known activist and a philanthropist. She has donated generously to different philanthropic organizations such as Doctors without Borders, AmeriCares, Feeding America, Clothes Off Our Back, EB Medical Research Foundation, OmniPeace, Project A.L.S., Friends of Al Faro, and many others. Aniston has also contributed appreciably to the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, and has hosted shows like Stand Up For Cancer and It Can’t Wait. Most recently, she quietly donated $1 million to Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the United States in an ongoing effort to make a difference in the Black Lives Matter movement. She also put a nude portrait of herself up for auction to help raise money for coronavirus relief. The portrait sold in June for $16,250.
27. P. ROY VAGELOS
$368 MILLION (Wallmine)
University of Pennsylvania (Chemistry); Married, 4 children
Dr. Pindaros Roy Vagelos, now 92 years old, 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 United States 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 as a 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 Vagelos family members.
Vagelos 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.
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 then 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. Since then, he has served as chairman of the company, which employs more than 9,000 people and has been outperforming its market and analysts’ expectations on the success of its COVID and other treatments. It was this later career move that catapulted Vagelos to billionaire status.
Vagelos served as chairman of the University of Pennsylvania board of trustees from 1994 to 1999. He has funded three of the university’s most elite undergraduate programs: the Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences, the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, and the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research. His charity work at the University of Pennsylvania includes sponsoring scholarship/study programs as well as the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories. Between 2005 and 2013, the couple contributed $31.6 million to Penn for studies in energy research and the life sciences. In April of 2019, the couple added to that sum by contributing an additional $50 million in order to build a center to connect scientists and engineers who are focused on energy-related solutions. (In an interview with Kathimerini in 2020, Vagelos said that climate change is a much greater problem than the pandemic.) It was the largest gift in the history of the School of Arts and Sciences. In 2020, the couple donated an additional $20 million to be used towards the new $173 million 110,000 square foot state-of-the-art laboratory space which was finally approved a few months ago. Construction is slated to commence in March 2022 and should be completed by the fall of 2024. As The National Herald reported in May 2016, the Vageloses’ philosophy is simple: “giving back.”
Vagelos is also the founding chairman of Columbia University Medical Center’s board of advisors, and chaired the center’s capital campaign, which passed its target of $1 billion. In 2010 the Vagelos couple contributed the lead gift to Columbia University Medical Center for a new medical and graduate education building. Seven years later, it was announced that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would be renamed the Columbia University Roy and Diana Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in recognition of a $250 million gift given by Vagelos to the college. A substantial part of the donation ($150 million) would be used to endow a fund that will help eliminate student loans for medical students who qualify for financial aid. It was the first medical school in the country to adopt a financial aid policy that guarantees debt-free graduation for its students. Altogether, the Vageloses have been responsible for about $450 million in philanthropy to Columbia’s medical school alone. In late 2021, Vagelos and his wife, Diana, contributed an additional $15M gift to the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
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. He also serves as co-chairman of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, is a trustee of The Danforth Foundation, Inc., and a director of PepsiCo, Inc., the Prudential Insurance Company of America, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.
Vagelos has received honorary degrees from 14 institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and Washington Universities. He also currently serves on the boards of the National Math and Science Initiative and The Nature Conservancy. 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 (nee Touliatos) for almost 65 years. 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.
26. MICHAEL PSAROS
$425 MILLION (TNH)
Georgetown University (Business); Married, 3 children
Michael Psaros, 54, is a co-founder and co-managing partner of KPS Capital Partners, LP, one of the world’s leading private equity firms, managing assets worth approximately $12B. KPS makes controlling equity investments in manufacturing and industrial companies across a diverse array of industries, including basic materials, branded consumer, healthcare, and luxury products, automotive parts, capital equipment, and general manufacturing. Under its ownership, KPS has transformed over 50 businesses into world-class, industry leading companies and has saved over 50,000 jobs.
The aggregate revenue of companies in the KPS Portfolio companies currently exceed $15 billion, operating 163 manufacturing facilities in 26 countries, and boasting a workforce of approximately 43,000.
Psaros is the son of George and Mary Ann Psaros and grandson of four Greek immigrants from Chios and Halicarnassus (Bodrum) in Asia Minor. He grew up in Weirton, WV, where the lifeblood of the town was the Weirton Steel Division of National Steel. Psaros’ father was a senior executive in the steel mill, and his great-grandfather worked in the open hearth furnaces. In 1983, union steelworkers voted to purchase the company with the help of investment banker Eugene Keilin, renaming it Weirton Steel. The buyout saved the town, and inspired Psaros to think about how management and labor could work together to revitalize manufacturing in America. Psaros subsequently co-founded his own private equity firm, KPS Capital Partners, LP, in partnership with Keilin and David Shapiro.
Psaros is a leading philanthropist and activist for Hellenic and Orthodox causes. He is the Vice Chairman of the Friends of St. Nicholas, the organization responsible for rebuilding the St. Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero (www.StNicholasWTC.org). He is also the Chair of the Administrative Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and serves on its Executive Committee. He formerly served as Treasurer, where he led a transformational financial and organizational restructuring of the Archdiocese resulting in a balanced budget and a commitment to accountability and transparency. Psaros is Archon Ostiarios of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, where he serves on its National Council. He currently serves as Treasurer of the St. Andrew Ecumenical Patriarch Fund. He is also a founding member of FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Leadership 100 and the Executive Board of The Hellenic Initiative, and he is a proud member of AHEPA. Psaros also supports the Washington ‘Oxi’ Day Foundation and GAEPIS.
Psaros received the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence, the Homeric Award from the Chian Association, the Socrates Award from AHEPA, the Humanitarian Award from the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund, the Executive of the Year Award from the Hellenic American Bankers Association, the Hellenic Heritage Award from the Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, the Phidippides Award from Hellenic Public Radio (Cosmos FM), and was recognized by the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
Psaros serves on the Board of Directors of Georgetown University. Late in 2021, in honor of His-All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and during His visit to the university, Psaros announced a new endowment, commenting: “On this historic visit by His All-Holiness to Georgetown University, my family is honored and humbled to announce the creation of ‘The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Endowed Orthodox Chaplaincy, Endowed by the Michael Psaros Family.’ The Orthodox Ministry at Georgetown will now last forever.” He and his wife created The Michael and Robin Psaros Endowed Chair in Business Administration at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, where he also serves as Vice Chairman of its Board of Advisors. He also serves on the Board of the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy.
The Psaros Family donated a newly created Orthodox Iconostasis and accompanying Iconography for use in the Copley Crypt Chapel at Georgetown University and Psaros was honored by the Georgetown University Wall Street Alliance at its gala in New York City.
Psaros is the Executive Producer and underwriter of the documentary short film, PISTEVO, about the centrality of iconography in the Orthodox Christian Faith, which may be viewed at www.theartofbelief.org. The film has been viewed in over 20 countries by tens of thousands of the faithful. PISTEVO won The Award of Excellence at the IndieFEST Film Awards.
24. JOHN GEORGES
$500 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
FOOD SERVICES, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, PHILANTHROPY, MEDIA
Tulane University (Management); Married, 3 children
An entrepreneur in multiple industries, an avowed philanthropist, and a strong supporter of Hellenic causes, John Georges, now 61, was born in New Orleans to Anita and Dennis George. Originally from Greece, John’s father immigrated to the U.S. after serving in the Greek Resistance and the Royal Greek Air Force during World War II.
Georges is Founder and CEO of Georges Enterprises, a company based in Elmwood, LA, specializing in acquiring and growing businesses. It invests in food vending, grocery distribution, video/arcade entertainment, restaurants, and media outlets. His Louisiana-based conglomerate includes Imperial Trading Co., a national food distribution for convenience stores headquartered in New Orleans and regional offices in twelve states and several other businesses. Georges Enterprises began as Imperial Trading in 1916, a wholesale grocery distribution company founded by Georges’ maternal grandfather. Georges started out in the family business at a young age, sweeping warehouse floors when he was 11 and making deliveries by the time he was 15. Under his leadership, this family company expanded its sales from $29 million to over $1 billion and operating more than 50 businesses today.
Georges is very involved with both Louisiana public life and the community of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Then the president of the New Orleans Greek Orthodox Community, he hosted Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he visited New Orleans in October 2009. He was also instrumental in rebuilding the Greek community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – raising over $4 million in just three months. Everything was “a wasteland,” he told TNH in 2015, “and we rebuilt everything in 90 days – it was a miracle.” Most recently, Georges became a member of the 13-person board of the Friends of St. Nicholas, a not-for-profit organization with the exclusive responsibility for the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church and Shrine.
In April 2013, Georges Enterprises acquired The Advocate – a Baton Rouge daily newspaper with a New Orleans edition and websites covering nearby towns Ascension and Acadiana – which is the largest newspaper in Louisiana, and a 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner for what the Pulitzer committee called “a damning portrayal of the state’s discriminatory conviction system, including a Jim Crow-era law, that enabled Louisiana courts to send defendants to jail without jury consensus on the accused’s guilt.” In May 2019, Georges’ New Orleans Advocate purchased The Times-Picayune and the accompanying nola.com website from Advance Local, merging the two papers and websites. The Advocate continues to serve as a home delivered newspaper in the New Orleans metro area. At the beginning of the pandemic, in March of 2020, the newspaper announced that it would be furloughing some employees and cutting staff hours. However, the Advocate also announced that Georges would be paying the health care premiums of the furloughed employees.
A notable campaign financier, Georges unsuccessfully ran as an independent for Louisiana Governor in 2007, and as a Democrat for New Orleans Mayor in 2010.
A firm believer in education and entrepreneurship, Georges founded the Lemonade Day – a community event that gives children an opportunity to learn the inner workings of running a business – in Louisiana. The event has helped more than 5,000 children become entrepreneurs.
Georges is also on the board of The Hellenic Initiative, and he and his wife Dathel are involved in numerous other philanthropic endeavors. Among other positions, Georges is a member of the Order of St. Andrew, Leadership 100, and AHEPA, as well as Trustee for the National World War II Museum, Member of the Board of St. Augustine High School, Past President of the Young Presidents Organization of Louisiana, past member of the Tulane University President’s Council, the University of New Orleans Foundation, the LSU Medical Foundation Board, Jefferson and New Orleans Business Councils, New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, World Trade Center and the Chamber of Commerce.
At the height of the Covid pandemic, Georges decided that Mardi Gras could not be missed as a result of the coronavirus. So, he invested in a $1.2 million project that took the celebration to the worldwide web. The free online event (“Mardi Gras for All Y’All”) gave its viewers an up-close, virtual experience with floats, music, costumes and stories detailing the history, culture and traditions behind the Mardi Gras season.
Georges and his wife, Dathel Coleman, have three children: Zana, Liza, and John Jr.
24. MARCUS A. LEMONIS
$500 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Marquette University (Political Science); Married
It is probably poetic that the life story of Marcus Lemonis is a quest of finding a home, and his success is owed to the business of being outdoors. The CEO of Camping World, Gander RV, and Good Sam enterprises was born in Lebanon during the civil war in the country, and was abandoned at an orphanage shortly after his birth. He finally found himself in a family when he was adopted in 1974, by parents Leo and Sophia Lemonis, a couple of Greek and Lebanese heritage, respectively, who lived in Miami, Florida. This Greek-Lebanese search for a better life in the United States found its impressive results in Lemonis success as a businessman and TV personality, who returns to our list this year.
Now 48, 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. During his time at Marquette University, he served as the president of the Student Athletic Committee and organized clothing drives for the homeless in Milwaukee. At the young age of 22, he ran for the Florida House of Representatives and was 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. Then he took 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.
In his current leadership role with Camping World Holdings, Inc., Good Sam Enterprises, and Gander Mountain Company, Inc., Lemonis controls an empire with cumulative revenue of over $6.5B, specializing in recreational vehicles and retail networks centered on the outdoors – hunting, fishing and camping. In addition, last year 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’.
Talking to the Behind Her Empire podcast, Lemonis said he is constantly inspired by his mother who “always felt… that women rule the world.”
In December, and as part of his The Great American Tip-Off initiative, to which he pledged $1 million to kickstart a call to action for rewarding hard-working Americans during the holiday season, Lemonis visited his high school, the Christopher Columbus High School, where he announced that every employee would be given a check for an $18,000 bonus. He followed that up with a $30,000 tip to the workers at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar, which he gave jointly with Amy Schumer. 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 will provide 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.
23. TOM HANKS & RITA WILSON
Married, 4 children
Greek is as Greek does, to paraphrase one of Tom Hanks’ most famous movie lines, and it is safe to say, even without considering their honorary Greek citizenship, that this couple is decidedly Greek! Though most of the people included in this list are Greek immigrants or Greek-Americans of various generations, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks combine a personal journey to find a better future in the United States with the matching quest to build a meaningful connection with Greece in the everyday. Wilson was born to a Greek mother and a Bulgarian Muslim father, who immigrated to the United States in 1949. In the States, Wilson’s father converted to the Greek Orthodox faith, in which Rita Wilson was raised. Before marrying her in 1988, Hanks himself, who is of Portuguese and English ancestry, converted to the Greek Orthodox faith, as well. One of the most recognizable actors internationally, with his films grossing an estimated near $10B worldwide, in 2021 Hanks starred in the Apple TV+ streamer Finch, with upcoming films including Elvis, slated for release in June, Pinocchio, and Asteroid City. Meanwhile, Wilson has starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi, recently released on HBOMax, and can also be seen in the Paramount+ series 1883.
Always considering himself a philhellene, Hanks received his Greek citizenship just before the close of 2019 by Greece’s former President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Under Greek law, honorary naturalization may be granted to people “who have provided exceptional services to the country or whose naturalization serves the public interest.” The initiative first came from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had met Hanks and discussed 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 (whose mother was an ethnic Greek born in Albania), owns property on Antiparos, and has quietly supported several initiatives for Greece including helping victims of the area of Mati following the devastating fires outside of Athens in 2018. The Guardian reported that Hanks, by his own admission, “is an ardent admirer of all things Hellenic.” The star has been visiting the country for years, spending nearly every summer on the Aegean island of Antiparos where he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have a home.
Wilson is believed to have played a crucial role in his 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 Hanks said: “I’ve been Hellenic now for the better part of 32 years. Greece is a haven…the land, the sky, the water, it’s good for the soul. It’s a healing place, particularly if you get into that fabulous, fabulous Greek schedule of sleeping until noon, staying up until three o’clock in the morning, and arguing in a taverna until 3 AM. It’s just the best life one can have.” Two weeks after President Pavlopoulos granted Hanks honorary Greek citizenship, his offer was extended to Wilson and the two children they share together – Chester and Truman (Hanks has two more children from his previous marriage). Wilson and Hanks attend St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church in Los Angeles and according to John Sanidopoulos’ blog, Hanks’ spiritual father was Father Robert Stephanopoulos, whose son is the well-known political commentator and TV host, George Stephanopoulos.
22. ANGELO K. TSAKOPOULOS
$600 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
California State University – Sacramento (Political Science & Business); Married, 6 children
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 travelled 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 family, before eventually continuing west to the San Joaquin Valley in California. Along the way, Tsakopoulos worked as a shoe shine boy and a farm hand. 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. While attending school, Tsakopoulos supported himself as a waiter and real estate salesman, foreshadowing his highly successful career in real estate development.
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’.
Tsakopoulos and his family have also been dedicated supporters of civic and community causes. Tsakopoulos has lived his life expressing his belief in the Greek idea of ‘paideia’ – education – 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, 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 with a tribute that became a permanent part of 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. Democratic presidential candidates aside, a few of the major recipients include former California Governor Gray Davis, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (now Vice President), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 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. 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.
21. ARTHUR T. DEMOULAS
$675 MILLION (MassLive; 2018 figure)
Bentley College; Married, 4 children
The Demoulas family is one of America’s richest families and usually appears on our list as a whole. However, given the family (legal) feud that has splashed headlines over the past few years, we have decided to feature only Arthur T. Demoulas in this year’s edition.
Arthur T., born in 1955, attended Andover High School, where he played football. He spent his younger years working in the family business and joined the DeMoulas Super Markets Board of Directors after his first year at Bentley College. He worked his way up to vice president of the company and in 1989, after the board rejected his proposal to start a pharmacy division, Arthur T. founded Lee Drug. In 1990, he sold the chain of nine stores to Walgreens.
The Demoulas’ family supermarket empire began in 1917, when Greek immigrants Athanasios (Arthur) and Efrosine Demoulas opened a small market selling fresh lamb in Lowell, MA. In 1950, the original store model was revamped and premiered as the DeMoulas Superette. Arthur turned the business over to his two sons, George and Telemachus (Mike) in 1954. The following year, the Superette tripled in size and became DeMoulas Super Market. Over the next 17 years, the two brothers converted the lamb shop into a successful grocery chain of 15 stores. The brothers each signed a will naming the other as executor of his estate, and reportedly agreed to divide the business equally between their two families in the event of one of their deaths. Both brothers had four children, and both named a son Arthur, after their father.
From their youth, both cousins (George’s son Arthur S. and Mike’s son Arthur T.) followed their fathers in the family business. In 1971, George, then 51, died unexpectedly while vacationing in Greece with his family. Mike continued to expand the chain and began opening stores under different names, including Market Basket. Tensions began brewing between the two families and erupted in the 1990s, when it came to light that Mike had been secretly shifting his brother’s half of the company assets into his own name after George’s death. Two decades of lawsuits followed with Mike’s son Arthur T. and his family on one side and Arthur S. on the other. The fight became extremely bitter with the two Arthurs openly saying in court and in public that they hated each other.
In 2013, Arthur S. gained control of the Board of Directors and proceeded to fire Arthur T. from his position as CEO six months later. As a result, thousands of Market Basket workers and their customers took to the streets to protest and boycott the family-owned supermarket and to demand that Arthur T. be given his job back. According to reports, the company lost around $400 million that summer. After seven weeks of negotiations, Arthur T. was back as CEO. The settlement included Arthur T.’s $1.6B cash buyout of Arthur S. and the rest of George’s heirs (according to Forbes).
Despite those difficulties, the business has flourished. Over the past decade it added approximately 30 new stores, a new perishable/produce distribution center, and has doubled its sales. Today, the Tewskbury-based DeMoulas Market Basket, Inc. owns 86 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, employs over 26,000 people, and earned $5.3 billion in sales in 2019. The company also announced two store openings in Rhode Island scheduled for opening next year. Market Basket company was ranked by Consumer Reports as the second-best among all national supermarket chains, behind Wegmans. It was also ranked number 79 on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies in 2018. 2022 brought another great recognition of Market Basket’s quality experience, as the company ranked 3rd in the annual Retail Preference Index, which surveyed 10,000 American households. This leading performance is made even more impressive by the fact that Market Basket, with its 86 stores, is third only to juggernaut Amazon, and H.E.B., a chain operating close to 350 stores in Texas and Mexico.
MIT published an article in 2019 titled The High Road Approach to Worker Compensation which said of Demoulas and Market Basket: “Despite having more than 70 locations throughout New England, and revenue in the billions, Arthur T. had built a culture more like a mom and pop store. The CEO memorized the names and birthdays of employees. He visited workers when they were sick.” Most recently, as a result of the coronavirus, Cost Cutters, a hair salon in Nashua, NH, told its employees it was planning on closing its doors. Crystal Jordan, a hair stylist that worked at the salon for 21 years, decided to contact the head of the company that owned the building the salon was located in. She said she was surprised when Arthur T.’s receptionist returned her call and told her to hold for the CEO. According to the Union Leader, the salon was able to negotiate a lease agreement that would enable them to stay in their current location.
According to the Lowell Sun, two foundations – the Telemachus and Irene Demoulas Family Foundation with $61 million in assets and the Demoulas Foundation with $30 million in assets – have donated millions to Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools, camps, hospitals, the Boston Ballet, the Boston Museum of Science, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, MA, Bentley University, and Boston College. The greatest beneficiary, however, is the Lowell Plan, an economic development organization for the city, which has received well over $10 million in the last decade.
Arthur T. Demoulas lives in Lowell with his wife Maureen, with whom he has three daughters and a son.
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