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Garmin co-founder is only one from KC area to make Forbes 400 mega-rich list

Min Kao, co-founder and chairman of Olathe-based Garmin Ltd., ranked among the Forbes 400 richest Americans.
Min Kao, co-founder and chairman of Olathe-based Garmin Ltd., ranked among the Forbes 400 richest Americans. File photo by The Star

Garmin co-founder Min Kao — alone among Kansas City area residents — landed on this year’s Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.

Kao has outlasted other area billionaires whose fortunes have not grown fast enough to keep up with the top-400 ranking. Neal Patterson, CEO of Cerner Corp., and Gary Burrell, Kao’s co-founder at Olathe-based Garmin, each fell off the ranking last year.

This year’s ranking stops at $1.7 billion in net worth. Kao, who is Garmin’s executive chairman, ranks No. 246 with a $2.7 billion fortune.

Wichita resident Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries, shared the No. 7 spot with his New York-resident younger brother, David. Each is worth $42 billion, according to Forbes.

The Koch brothers had ranked No. 5 in 2015 but this year fell behind Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, with fortunes of $55.5 billion and $45 billion.

Philanthropist Bill Gates kept his No. 1 spot, with $81 billion. But others moved up and ahead of the Kochs. Omaha, Neb., investor Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 with a $65.5 billion net worth. Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos ranked No. 2 at $67 billion.

Another notable downgrade: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fell to No. 156 from No. 121, with a net worth of $3.7 billion, down $800 million from 2015. Forbes pegged Trump’s loss of financial stature to a softening real estate market in New York.

Curtis Tate of McClatchy’s Washington bureau contributed to this report.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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