Real estate is a hot commodity in the United States. Though the U.S. is one of the world’s largest countries, spanning 2.27 billion acres, land is a resource with a fundamentally fixed limit. And as with any limited resource in high demand, land is expensive. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a single acre of crop land – to say nothing of commercial or residential real estate – was worth an average of $5,050 in 2022, an all-time high, up 14% from 2021.
The federal government owns some 640 million acres, or 28% of land area in the United States, according to congressional reports. Much of that land is open to the public, and its usage, ostensibly, serves the public good. In contrast, there are millions of acres in the U.S. that are privately owned. A large portion is held by a handful of individuals and families who are beholden to no one’s interests but their own. (Here is a look at how much land in each state is owned by the federal government.)
Using data compiled by the individual retirement account firm Madison Trust Company in its report Who Owns the Most Land in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. identified the top private landowners in the United States. The 25 individuals and families on this list are ranked by the total acres of land they own. Leased land was not considered.
The individuals and families on this list own a combined 24.3 million acres, larger than the size of several states, including Indiana, Maine, and South Carolina. Much of the land owned by the people on this list is used for business enterprises, including agriculture, lumber production, and ranching.
The largest landowners in the U.S. include heirs to family fortunes and successful business entrepreneurs. Some of them rank among the wealthiest people in the world. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns a reported 420,000 acres in Texas, is worth $122 billion, making him the third richest person in the world. Thomas Peterfly, who owns 581,000 acres in Georgia and Florida, founded the electronic trading platform Interactive Brokers and is worth $27.1 billion, making him the 49th richest person in the world. (Here is a look at the city in every state with the most billionaires.)
Click here to see which people own the most land in America.
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