5 Richest People In North Carolina

Fun fact: North Carolina is home to some of the richest people in the U.S. and the world. Each of the five richest people in North Carolina has a net worth of more than $2 billion, rich enough to be on the Forbes Billionaire list. Together, they hold almost $21 billion.

To put that in perspective, North Carolina’s state budget for the fiscal year 2024-2025 is $30 billion. The median (middle, not average) household income in NC was $66,186, or about $5,500 monthly in 2023. The least rich person of the top five richest North Carolinians makes about $183 million monthly.

How the richest North Carolinians become so rich

What do the richest North Carolina residents do to make so much money? Two are in the software business, one is a game developer, another is a property developer, and one started a clinical trial and research firm.

They have one thing in common: They started their own businesses and then developed them into profitable money-making firms.

North Carolina’s 5 richest people

1. James Goodnight—Net worth: $7.4 billion

James Goodnight is the co-founder of SAS, a data analytics software firm. He and John Sall (also on the list) met at North Carolina State University, where Goodnight was a Ph.D. student. Together, in 1976, they founded SAS as a software company to analyze agricultural data. SAS has grown and diversified and is now working with AI. Goodnight remains the head of the company. Eighty years old, he lives in Cary, NC, where he and Sall founded the Cary Academy.

While $7.4 billion is a lot of money and qualifies him for the top spot in North Carolina, he does not even make the list of the 100 richest persons in America. He’s number 102. Worldwide, he ranks number 305 on the Forbes Billionaires list.

2. Tim Sweeney—Net worth: $4.7 billion

Tim Sweeney, also of Cary, NC, is the co-founder and CEO of Epic Games. His company is best known for creating Fortnite, a super popular game with more than 400 million players worldwide.

Sweeney started the company in Maryland in 1991 as Potomac Computer Systems. He released the first video game, ZZT, and the company took off. Sweeney, now 50 years old, moved the company to Cary, NC, in 1999 and changed the name to Epic MegaGames Inc.

Sweeney ranks as the 580th richest person in the world.

3. John Sall—Net worth: $3.7 billion

John Sall met up with James Goodnight at North Carolina State University (see above) and cofounded SAS. Sall, now 73 years old, was a graduate student studying statistics at the time. Today, SAS’s customer base includes government agencies and banks. The company boasts over 83,000 customers.

According to the Forbes list, Sall is the 766 richest person in the world.

4. Roy Carroll—Net Worth: $2.9 billion

Roy Carroll is the founder and CEO of the Carroll Companies, a real estate development and management company. Doing business primarily in the southeast, the Carroll Companies purchase inexpensive land and develop it into single-family units, apartments, self-storage, or industrial complexes.

At 61 years old, Carroll lives in Greensboro, NC, and is known as the ‘Guru of Greensboro’. The company employs nearly 400 people.

Carrol comes in at number 1,027 on the Forbes richest people in the world list.

5. Dennis Gillings—Net Worth: $2.1 billion

Originally from the UK, Dennis Gillings lives in Durham, NC. Gillings founded Quintiles Transnational in 1982. His dream was to make clinical drug trials faster and more efficient. The company name changed to IQVIA in 2017. Gillings had stepped down as CEO and then retired from the board of IQVIA in 2018.

Gillings ranks as the 1,434th richest person in the world.

How much is a billion dollars?

It’s hard for us regular people to imagine a billion dollars, much less $2.1 billion or $7.4 billion. As mentioned, the median (middle, not average) household income in North Carolina is $66,186.

How long would someone making the median income in North Carolina have to work to make $1 billion? If you could save all of your income starting in 2024, it would take you just under 15,109 years to save that much money. You’d have $1 billion in the year 17132.

If you are being paid North Carolina’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, you’d have to work 66,312 years to earn $1 billion.

Another way to look at it is how much you would receive if you were paid $1 billion annually. One billion dollars a year breaks down to:

  • $83,333,333 a month
  • $19,230,769 a week
  • $3,846,153 a day (a five-day workweek)

Maybe it’s time to start your own business or win big with the launch of North Carolina sports betting.

About the Author

Walter Yuhl

Walter (Way) Yuhl is a freelance writer and business professor. Way has written for the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff Business News, Bangkok University, and Shandong University of Science and Technology as well as edited content for the U.N., Thailand International airports, and other organizations. He has worked with Cantena Media since 2019.