Special Report

50 Least Powerful People in the World

A lucky few possess great fame, wealth, and influence. Even fewer manage to hold on to these positions of power without mishap. Such great heights are often quite perilous, and for every large-scale success, there is often an equally epic fall.

24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of 50 well-known individuals around the world who have recently experienced a precipitous loss in stature. These individuals, be they influential political figures, powerful executives, or successful athletes, have each fallen a great distance from their peak — some by their own doing and some as a result of circumstance.

This loss of power can have very different negative outcomes, depending on the position the person held. For politicians, the worst kind of failure is often an image crisis that can damage a campaign for reelection or even destroy a career. For an athlete, losing a high-stakes game, sustaining a crippling injury, or being disgraced by a personal scandal can often be career ending. Executives, who are responsible for the financial health of their organizations, have a great deal to lose as well either through poor business decisions or through bad judgement in other areas.

Click here to see the 50 least powerful people in the world.

In all cases, these people’s losses in stature lead either to a loss of work, income, or even, in the case of corruption and other criminal charges, to a loss of freedom altogether. The manner in which these failures occurred vary considerably.

For example, politician Sheldon Silver likely earned his current level of disgrace as he was recently sentenced to over a decade in prison on corruption, money laundering, and fraud charges. For other fallen politicians, however, uncontrollable forces likely explain their decline better than personal failings. In the most recent presidential primary race, for instance, Jeb Bush had the name recognition, financial status, powerful connections, public support, and any number of other political advantages. Yet, he utterly failed to clinch the Republican nomination, largely due to the phenomenon of Donald Trump.

As the face of their organizations, corporate executives are beholden to shareholders as well as the general public. In some cases, an executive’s bad business strategy and risky decisions have earned his or her position on this list. Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, for instance, deliberately misled her clients.

On the other hand, some executives and bureaucrats listed here have seen the power of their positions erode beneath their feet through no fault of their own. The U.S. Postmaster General and the head of OPEC each once had enormous influence. Due to technological developments and supply shifts in the global economy, each of these individuals have considerably less power today than they might have had years ago.

Athletic careers take downward turns along equally disparate paths. Rising football star Johnny Manziel was poised to become a champion. Due mostly to his inappropriate and reckless behavior, however, he swiftly embarrassed himself and his team. He may never play NFL football again. UFC champion Ronda Rousey’s fall from grace is another story entirely. A single devastating knockout brought Rousey down from her then seemingly unbeatable peak. While her loss of stature was indeed massive, it was also likely inevitable.

To identify the 50 least influential people in the world, 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of as many well-known individuals around the world who have recently experienced a precipitous loss in stature as possible. Of these individuals, we attempted to select those who fell the furthest from the greatest height.

Correction: In a previous version of this article we wrote that Dilma Rousseff had been in power since 2003. In fact, she assumed her office in 2011. 

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