16. Oklahoma : Harold Hamm
Visionary fracking pioneer Harold Hamm had a tough year. In November 2014, the judge presiding over his divorce from second wife Sue Ann ordered him to fork over $1 billion, with $320 million due by December 31 and the rest to be paid in installments of about $7 million a month. Hamm wrote a check for $975 million, which his ex deposited in mid-January. By all accounts he got off easy–many speculated Hamm would take a hit of $3 billion to end his 26-year marriage (she’s appealing the court order). Meanwhile, falling oil prices cut 50% from the value of his Continental Resources (he owns 72%).
When we published the 2014 Forbes 400 list last Fall, Hamm was worth $18.7 billion. In February 2015, he was down to $12 billion. But he’s not worried. “I’ve seen this six or seven times,” he tells FORBES. The 13th child of Oklahoma sharecroppers, Hamm grew up poor. “My biggest advantage is that I was born with no advantage.” First entry to the oil industry was as a teenager, pumping gas and changing tires. Today Hamm’s Continental produces 200,000 barrels of oil per day, most of it from North Dakota.