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Who Knows the Most About Money?

February 17, 2006

Bill Gates has enough money to buy lunch for every person on Earth. If Oprah Winfrey converted her fortune into dollar bills and lined them up end to end, they'd wrap around the world five and a half times. You can't argue with either person's success. But great wealth doesn't always correspond to great understanding of money--Gates and Winfrey are successful because of other talents, not necessarily because they really grok greenbacks.

The winner, Warren Buffett, won by a landslide. More than 44% of our readers chose the "Oracle of Omaha" as the man who knows the most about money.

Buffett, 74, probably won a lot of those votes for being a self-made man, and for building his $40 billion fortune from scratch. He filed his first income tax return at age 13, reporting revenue from a newspaper delivery job. Even then, he had an eye for finance, claiming a $35 deduction for his bicycle.

Over the years, Buffett became a champion of value investing, took over Salomon Brothers following the trading scandals in the late 1980s, and built his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, into a behemoth. Its current market capitalization of over $135 billion makes it bigger than AT&T, IBM or Google. Today he's one of the most respected financiers and market savants in the world.


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