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The World’s Best Rags to Riches Stories


We all love some good rags to riches stories, don’t we? The following are a few great tales of people who moved from humble situations to becoming some of the riches people on the planet.

Simon Patiño

You might not have heard about this guy before but I find his story to be absolutely fascinating. I first came across his legacy while travelling in Bolivia. Some of the country’s finest houses in different cities were built by him and after some research I discovered that he was once one of the richest men in the world. His rags to riches story begins in the bleak mining area around Oruro. He was a dirt poor miner who benefitted enormously from a deal that went wrong. Legend has it that he had to go and collect a $250 debt for his company. The person who owed the money managed to persuade him to accept the title deeds to a rocky piece of land instead of money.  His bosses were furious and fired him. Patiño decided to work the land and after a few years he discovered one of the richest deposits of tin on the planet. He was classed as one of the 5 richest men in the world round about the time of WWII and was known as the Andean Rockefeller and the Tin King. In an inflation adjusted list of the richest people in history this man from the humblest of background came in at number 28, ahead of people like Warren Buffet and Jean Paul Getty. In this list his wealth (in 2007 terms) was worked out at over $80 billion.

JK Rowling

You may know the author of the Harry Potter series of books as JK Rowling but she was born as Joanne Rowling. While she was writing her famous books about the boy wizard she was a broke single parent living on state welfare benefits and wrote chunks of her books in cafes around her home city of Edinburgh in Scotland. Now, she is said to be worth $1 billion and is one of the wealthiest people in the UK, thanks to millions of books sold and lucrative film rights.

Andrew Carnegie

When discussing the great rags to riches stories you will commonly hear about another Scot; Andrew Carnegie. He was born in Scotland but moved to the US and was a driving force behind the enormous expansion of the steel industry here. As well as being enormously wealthy he also left a lasting legacy as a philanthropist who believed that money should be used to make society better for everyone. He arrived in North America at the age of 12 with his poor family. After starting out in menial jobs he quickly began to build up an impressive business empire before selling the Carnegie Steel Company for a figure which is about $13.5 billion in today’s money. The number of buildings which bear his name show how willing he was to spend his fortune on good causes.

Oprah Winfrey

This lady is now worth something like $3 billion and her wealth is growing all the time. In addition to this massive fortune she can lay claim to titles such as the first black billionaire in history and the wealthiest African American in the 20th century. All of this came after a poor background in which Oprah was born to a single mother and suffered a series of personal tragedies. She overcame it all to become a millionaire by the time she was in her early thirties.


All of these inspirational rags to riches stories show us that these things can happen in real life.  Sometimes it requires exceptional talent or a lot of hard work but sometimes it comes down to being in the right place at the right time and making some smart decisions.

10 Responses to The World’s Best Rags to Riches Stories

  1. moneystepper says:

    Awesome – everyone loves a rags to riches story. I’d never heard of Simon Patino – that’s a pretty cool story!

  2. The great thing about a rags to riches story is that it gives people hope that anyone can do it….all you need is that ONE great idea, right?

  3. I love rags to riches stories or even just riches stories. There’s a show called “How I Made My Millions” that I’m slightly obsessed with. Inspiration!

    • Robert Bell says:

      I think I have seen that show as well Stefanie. Some people just seem to have a huge drive to make money which gets them through anything.

  4. I have followed JK Rowling’s story and how Harry Potter brought her to where she is now. The story featured on Oprah (the be-all when it comes to inspiration about believing in the impossible) about how her manuscript was salvaged from the trash bin by one of the publishing company’s assistants and thought the story was great. I hope Rowling shared some of her blessings to that assistant.

  5. Rags to riches stories give the average person a belief thats its also possible for them to achieve success with hard work and determination. J.K Rowlings story sure stands out maybe because most of us has actually witnessed her trnasformation and followed her books with baited breath…simply inspirational.

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