A few people and families own more than 100 million acres of land in the United States. However, a media tycoon is America’s largest landowner. John Malone has 2.2 million acres, mostly in four states: Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and Wyoming. Some of this land is used for cattle ranches. The ownership puts him just ahead of another media tycoon. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, who owns 2.0 million acres. Their holdings are about twice the size of the state of Rhode Island.
Malone made his money in telecom and media. He built and owned part of Tele-Communications. He sold that company to AT&T in 1999 for $50 billion. According to Forbes 400, his net worth is $6.5 billion, which places him 75th on the list.
Malone has been a player in the media world for decades. Known as the “cable cowboy,” he owns or has held positions in Liberty Media, Discovery Communications and the Atlanta Braves. He also had ownership in Liberty Global, which is probably the largest cable company in the world, with an estimated 29 million subscribers.
Malone also owned about a third of News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch.
Malone’s education includes a bachelor of arts degree from Yale and a master’s in electronic engineering from New York University.
How did we determine Malone’s position as the largest landowner in America?
Using data from The Land Report magazine’s 2018 Land Report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 50 largest private landholders in the United States. Estimates are based on information from published reports, online databases, tax records, and information provided by various landowners, and include only rural land holdings.
All told, the 50 individuals, families, and heirs on this list own over 31 million acres — or about 1.4% of the country’s total landmass. For reference, 1 square mile is equal to 640 acres. This ranking is current as of the end of 2018.
The vast majority of the land held by the individuals and families on this list is located in states west of the Mississippi River. The most common exceptions to this rule are parcels located in Maine and Florida. While this list only includes privately held land, nearly all of it serves some commercial purpose — from farming and ranching to logging and renewable energy production.
Not only do the private land holdings on this list often generate income for their owners, but also real estate itself is a valuable commodity. Not surprisingly, many of the people on this list rank among the wealthiest Americans
Given the size of Malone’s holdings, he is unlikely to be topped in the near future.
Here are all the 50 largest landholders in America.