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Battle of billionaires: Pritzker and pal of Rauner make Forbes’ cut

Former Gov. Bruce Rauner, left; Gov. J.B. Pritzker, center; Hedge fund founder Ken Griffin, right.
Left to right: Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democrat J.B. Pritzker and hedge fund manager Ken Griffin. Sun-Times file photos.

With an estimated fortune of $3.4 billion, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker is the fifth-richest person in Illinois.

But Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pal Ken Griffin is the richest with a cool $8.5 billion.

That’s according to Forbes’ latest rankings of the wealthiest 400 Americans. Fourteen Illinois residents made the list and this year’s cutoff of $2 billion — a bit too rich for Rauner’s blood. The governor didn’t make the list.

Rauner, who has previously estimated his net worth at $500 million, reported a joint taxable income of $73 million with first lady Diana Rauner in 2016.

Both Rauner and Pritzker are self-financing their gubernatorial bids. Rauner has already kicked in $50 million this time, and Pritzker $28 million.

Rauner is getting help from the state’s richest man — and the country’s 52nd richest person overall, according to Forbes. Griffin has donated $33,589,295.18 to Rauner’s political fund since 2013 — $20 million of that last May.

Ken Griffin | Photo courtesy of Citadel
Ken Griffin | Photo courtesy of Citadel

It was a billion-dollar year for the founder and CEO of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel. Griffin’s net worth was estimated at just $7.5 billion on last year’s list, when he came in at No. 57 nationwide.

Pritzker — who ranked No. 5 in Illinois and No. 219 nationally — was not the only member of his high-profile family to crack this year’s list. Other heirs and heiresses of the Hyatt hotel fortune in the top 400 include Thomas Pritzker at $3.7 billion, Jean “Gigi” Pritzker at $2.7 billion and Penny Pritzker at $2.6 billion.

A fifth Pritzker who was on last year’s list — Jennifer Pritzker — fell out of the top 400. Taking her spot among Illinois’ wealthy was newcomer Rishi Shah, the co-founder of Outcome Health, whose worth is estimated at $3.6 billion, placing him 206th overall.

The other spots held by Illinoisans are perennial faces on the list, including investment mogul Sam Zell ($5.1 billion), casino developer Neil Bluhm ($3.3 billion), and Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner ($2.7 billion).

Nationwide, Microsoft founder Bill Gates tops this year’s list with a fortune valued at $89 billion. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is second and investor Warren Buffett is third.