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Elon Musk, Lebron James, and Rihanna are among the billionaires with the largest Twitter followings. … [+] Each of them use Twitter differently.

Gracelynn Wan for Forbes

Elon Musk has gained 17 million Twitter followers since April, when he first announced plans to buy the social media company. But there is one billionaire who still has even more followers than he does.

Oh, the power of an enormous Twitter following paired with an enormous fortune. Elon Musk—the world’s richest person—has 99.5 million Twitter followers who are exposed regularly to his rants and musings. He uses Twitter as a publicity tool (journalists regularly rush to cover whatever he says) and as a bully pulpit, complaining about regulators (including the Securities and Exchange Commission), people he doesn’t like (that “pedo guy,” a term Musk used in 2019 to describe Vernon Unsworth, a British cave diver who helped rescue a trapped junior football team in Thailand. Unsworth sued for defamation and lost) and politicians. President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, to whom he tweeted, “I keep forgetting you’re still alive” have all been the subjects of his gripes. Sometimes he even tweets about things he supports, such as the Republican party and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Recently he’s also been tweeting about Twitter, the company he offered to buy for $44 billion in April (back when he had 17 million fewer followers) and then soon after began complaining that Twitter is undercounting the percentage of accounts that are automated bots and won’t give him data to make an independent assessment before closing the acquisition. Could he be souring on the sector he’s perhaps about to be part of? In mid June he tweeted, “Is TikTok destroying civilization? Some people think so.” Followed by another tweet: “Or perhaps social media in general”.

There’s one billionaire who has even more Twitter followers than Musk: popstar and entrepreneur Rihanna, who Forbes named a billionaire in 2021, based largely on her stake in popular cosmetics line Fenty Beauty—a line that she intermittently hawks to her 106.8 million followers. In early May she posted a tweet with a video of her pregnant self applying a Fenty Beauty face mask and lotion, labeling it “and that’s on self care bih.” (Rihanna gave birth to her first child in mid May, with boyfriend rapper A$AP Rocky.) According to social media analytics website Socialblade.com, Rihanna is the fourth most followed person on Twitter after Barack Obama, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. Musk has the sixth most followers, right after Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Rihanna is one of several celebrities as well as a Shark Tank judge and a tech CEO who rank among the nation’s most followed billionaires. But wealth doesn’t always correlate with popularity on the platform. Jeff Bezos, the world’s third richest person, has 4.7 million followers—5% of Musk’s total. Some near the top of the Forbes list, such as Alphabet cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, don’t have Twitter accounts under their names. Others don’t seem to like tweeting. Warren Buffett (currently No. 9 in the world) has 1.7 million followers but last tweeted in 2016—about the livestream of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. Larry Ellison, cofounder and chairman of software firm Oracle and currently the seventh richest person in the world, has around 116,000 followers and only tweeted once, back in 2012—boasting about Oracle’s many enterprise applications “in the #cloud”.

One billionaire with a high Twitter following doesn’t appear on this list because he’s no longer on the platform. Twitter announced on January 8, 2021—two days after the riots on the U.S. Capitol—that it had permanently suspended former U.S. President Donald Trump’s account, which at the time had 88.8 million followers, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” after a review of his then-recent tweets. Trump now shares his views on the Truth Social platform.

Here are the top ten billionaires with the largest following on Twitter. Net worths are as of Friday, June 24, 2022:

1. Rihanna

Followers: 106.8 million

Net worth: $1.4 billion

Here’s a list where Elon Musk is not No. 1. Popstar and entrepreneur Rihanna has more Twitter followers than any other billionaire. That makes for a built-in audience for her tweets about products from cosmetics company Fenty Beauty—a joint venture she formed with French luxury goods firm LVMH—and lingerie line Savage x Fenty. Plus she shares images from fashion shoots—including her Vogue cover in April, when Rihanna was visibly pregnant with her first child (she gave birth in May).

2. Elon Musk

Followers: 99.5 million

Net worth: $234.5 billion

Long before Musk bid $44 billion to buy Twitter in April, he was a very active tweeter, on a vast range of topics—commenting on Tesla’s plans and SpaceX’s rocket launches. He often tweets multiple times each day, brings up seemingly random topics and shares memes about everything from clean energy to artificial intelligence to making fun of Twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde.

Musk also uses Twitter to punch against people he disagrees with, including recently denouncing Democrats for being too far left. Last week five SpaceX employees were reportedly fired for their role in penning and sharing an open letter condemning Musk’s Twitter activities.

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3. Kim Kardashian

Followers: 72.7 million

Net worth: $1.8 billion

Kardashian was called out by many as tone deaf earlier in the pandemic after tweeting in October 2020 that she “surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.” Nowadays, while some of her most-liked tweets are of vacation photos or references to the Hulu series The Kardashians, the reality TV star and savvy businesswoman is tweeting early and often about a brand new skincare line she’s launched, SKKN BY KIM.

4. Bill Gates

Followers: 59.6 million

Net worth: $124.9 billion

The Microsoft cofounder’s tweets showcase his current passions, starting with philanthropic work by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including efforts to address climate change and global health crises. A voracious reader, he also shares his favorite books, highlights inspiring people he meets with and sometimes voices his opinion on politics. In May he tweeted that the reversal of Roe vs. Wade “would set us back 50 years and disproportionately impact the most vulnerable women in society.”

5. Lebron James

Followers: 51.6 million

Net worth: $1 billion

James—a new entry to the billionaire ranks—tweets under the handle @KingJames. He likes to retweet and comment, often about his appearances off the court. He’s retweeted about the new Netflix movie Hustle—with Adam Sandler starring as an NBA scout; James is one of the movie’s producers. He also just unveiled a new media company with tennis pro Naomi Osaka, which got some of his Twitter love. The first NBA player to become a billionaire while still playing also uses Twitter to praise other athletes’ success, especially those from teams owned by Fenway Sports Group, where he is an investor. In May when Liverpool FC won the FA Cup final, James enthusiastically tweeted “YESSIR!!!!!! WE ARE THE #EmiratesFACup WINNERS!!!!!!!”

6. Oprah Winfrey

Followers: 43.2 million

Net worth: $2.5 billion

Winfrey is one of just a handful of people known by her first name alone—and that’s her Twitter handle: @Oprah. Her carefully curated tweets broadcast what’s going on in her media empire, whether it’s a new Oprah book pick from @oprahsbookclub, an interview with gun control advocate David Hogg for @OprahDaily (the rebrand of O Magazine), or a plug for her own book.

7. Kanye West

Followers: 30.8 million

Net worth: $2 billion

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The author of multiple posts that went on to be viral memes, West has not tweeted since November 2020. His last posts are photos of him voting for himself in the 2020 presidential election. Prior to that, West would tweet, sometimes multiple times per day; his most viral tweets included calling comedian Dave Chapelle a modern-day Socrates, sharing a photo of musician The Weeknd’s Nutty Professor Halloween costume, and telling fans to write him in when voting for U.S. president in November 2020.

8. Tim Cook

Followers: 13.5 million

Net worth: $2 billion

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Cook has 7.5 million more followers than the Apple company account, which currently posts just one tweet. The Apple CEO, who’s worth an estimated $1.9 billion, tweets about upcoming products and shows him meeting with Apple employees. Cook is known for tweeting on different heritage months and holidays, like Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Ramadan. But his tweets with the most attention from followers include meeting the cast of AppleTV’s Ted Lasso and sharing memories of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.

9. Richard Branson

Followers: 12.6 million

Net worth: $3.9 billion

The British billionaire leader of the Virgin Group conglomerate, Branson uses Twitter to promote brands from air travel to media to fitness facilities. He doesn’t shy away from commenting on politics, in recent weeks backing gun control policies and sharing support for people displaced in Ukraine. He also periodically shares ocean scenes from his retreat in the British Virgin Islands.

10. Mark Cuban

Followers: 8.7 million

Net worth: $4.7 billion

Cuban’s profile is currently full of tweet replies to posts thanking him for his online wholesale pharmacy, Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, for helping provide lower cost medicine. Cuban launched the company in January with the goal of bypassing middlemen for more than 100 medications, including the leukemia drug imatinib (a generic version of Gleevec), currently priced at $14.40 per month at Cuban’s pharmacy versus its estimate of the $2,502.60 retail price. He also invites followers to present NFTs on his digital gallery platform, Lazy.com.


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