“I know I could beat Hillary Clinton. And if it was me versus Trump, I would crush him,” Cuban said, according to the network (which airs Shark Tank reruns). He even had a platform, focusing on “income inequality, college debt [and] overly complex taxes, and cybersecurity.”
Alas, Cuban killed the speculation a few hours later (“I just don’t have the temperament, at least not at this point, to be a politician.”) But given how well Donald Trump, who says he is worth TEN BILLION DOLLARS, has done in the GOP presidential race, it seems Americans might be open to the idea of a billionaire outsider as our next president.
Here’s a look at some of the super-high net worth names who might consider throwing their hats in the ring--either competing for one of the major party nominations or as a third-party or independent candidate.
1. Michael Bloomberg
Net Worth: $37 billion
Bloomberg served as mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, and he’s a perennial presidential campaign flirter, although he never winds up running. Currently, he’s CEO of Bloomberg LP. He’s been both a Democrat and a Republican, and urged the recruitment of a moderate third party candidate in the past. If any billionaire candidate were actually to jump into the 2016 race, it might well be him.
2. Howard Schultz
Net Worth: $2.9 billion
Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has been mentioned many times as a potential candidate on the Democratic side, but he seemingly closed the door on a presidential run, at least for now, in an August op-ed. That said, his wording--”I have no intention of entering the presidential fray”--wasn’t exactly iron-clad.
3. Bill Gates
Net Worth: $79.2 billion
Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and a worldwide philanthropist, would be uniquely positioned. However, he rejected the idea in 2012: “I decided the philanthropic role is where my contribution would be more unique, and so that is what I will work on the rest of my life,” Gates said. “I actually think, maybe I’m wrong, that I can have as much impact in that role as I could in any political role. In any case, I would never run for political office.”
4. Warren Buffett
Net Worth: $66.7 billion
You can certainly find a lot of people saying that the Oracle of Omaha should run for president, but he hasn’t shown much interest in running, and in fact donated tens of thousands of dollars (of course, a tiny fraction of his net worth) earlier this year to the super PAC, Ready for Hillary.
5. Larry Page
Net Worth: $34.2 billion
Co-founder of Google and CEO of the soon-to-be Alphabet, Page would be an intriguing candidate--but there really are no indications he’d ever consider it. (Interestingly, for every other billionaire on this list, I could find at least an internet page somewhere suggesting they should run. I couldn’t find anything suggesting Page should run.)
6. Oprah Winfrey
Net Worth: $3 billion
Let’s start with the fact that Winfrey’s early endorsement of Barack Obama might have been worth 1 million votes in the presidential nominating contest--and ultimately might have made the difference in the 2008 election. Winfrey was once the most influential woman in the world, and might be a formidable candidate. However, her past refusals when it comes to a potential candidacy have been pretty straightforward: “People say ‘never say never,’ but when it comes to politics, I can say never.”
7. Eric Schmidt
Net Worth: $9.1 billion
The former CEO of Google and now executive chairman of Alphabet, Schmidt has been outspoken on political issues like net neutrality and privacy. Schmidt is a Democrat, and the closest thing to his expressing an interest in running for office seems to be a 2014 article about an Occupy Wall Street protestor wanting to draft him to serve as “CEO of America.”
8. Sheryl Sandberg
Net Worth: $1.17 billion
As Facebook’s chief operating officer--and perhaps even better known to the general public as a result of her bestselling book, Lean In, and media appearances--she has to be on anyone’s list of the most influential executives in Silicon Valley, if not in American business as a whole. Previously, she was a top executive at Google, but she also has a history of public service--she was chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Sandberg’s husband died earlier this year, of course, and there’s no indication she’s in a hurry to leave Facebook. However, it wouldn’t be a complete shock to see her consider a run down the road.
9. Jeff Bezos
Net Worth: $50 billion
He already bought The Washington Post, so why not run for president? While it’s hard to rule him out, Bezos seems 100 percent focused on Amazon. Moreover, his personal political activity has been limited. In 2012, Bezos and his wife donated $2.5 million in support of a same-sex marriage referendum in the state of Washington. (That referendum passed, but of course it’s been superseded by the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year).
10. Mark Zuckerberg
Net Worth: $42.5 billion
To start with, Zuck can’t run until 2020 because he’s only 31 years old and the Constitution requires that the president be at least 35. It’s also difficult to imagine him leaving the company he founded in 2004--but one never knows. It would be fascinating to see how Americans, more than half of whom use Facebook, would react to Zuckerberg in politics.
There are quite a few other people who could be on this list, but who don’t make it for various reasons.
Elon Musk, the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla Motors, and one of the co-founders of PayPal, is worth $13.6 billion and would be part of any such conversation--except that as a naturalized American citizen (he was born in South Africa and is also a Canadian citizen), he’s not eligible to run.
The same impediment applies to Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google, who’s worth $34.3 billion. He was born in the former Soviet Union, so he’s currently ineligible. (Although these are billionaire entrepreneurs we’re talking about, so one imagines that if they wanted to run for president, the idea of running a campaign to change Constitutional law might look like nothing more than a pesky little prerequisite to them.)
Other also-rans who might or might not run: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, whose 92-person family is worth about $1.6 billion (they’re the heirs to the Target department store fortune); Apple CEO Tim Cook (worth about $785 million); Elizabeth Holmes, the reclusive 34-year-old CEO and founder of Theranos (net worth: $4.6 billion); and even David Koch, a major donor to conservative causes who actually was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice-president in 1980.
Be the way, we’ve never had a billionaire president. Our wealthiest president, in inflation-adjusted dollars, might come as a surprise. According to The Atlantic, George Washington, whose net worth was the modern equivalent of $525 million, holds that distinction.