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Kanye West is the richest Black American, bank finds

Rapper-slash-fashion designer Kanye West is now the wealthiest Black American ever, according to an estimate from Bloomberg News that places his net worth at well beyond $6 billion. 

That figure includes West's Yeezy clothing and shoe deal with Adidas and Gap, which investment bank UBS valued at $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion. Bloomberg also estimated that West has $122 million in cash or stock, along with a $110 million music catalog and $1.7 billion in other investments. Sales of Yeezy's Adidas sneakers grew 31% during the coronavirus pandemic to annual revenue of nearly $1.7 billion last year, netting West $191 million in royalties, Bloomberg said in citing UBS. 

West's status as a billionaire is a far cry from where the Chicago-born college dropout found himself five years ago. West, 43, told BET News that he was $53 million in debt in 2016. About $16 million of that came from trying to get Yeezy up-and-running, West said. 

His fortunes finally turned after Yeezy launched. Forbes reported that West negotiated an 11% royalty on his Adidas Yeezy shoes. He eventually generated $150 million in income during Yeezy's first 12 months of existence, according to Forbes. West signed a 10-year deal with Gap for Yeezy clothes and shoes.

As Yeezy continued to gain steam, its success caught the attention of West's then-wife Kim Kardashian. Kardashian tweeted about how proud she was of West turning around his fortune. Forbes declared West a billionaire last April, listing his net worth at $1.3 billion.

West joins a small crowd of Black U.S. billionaires, a list that includes filmmaker Tyler Perry, rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter), Charlotte Hornets owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey. 

In its latest estimates, Forbes placed Winfrey's net worth at $2.5 billion. Former Goldman Sachs executive Robert Smith has a $5.2 billion net worth and World Wide Technology founder David Steward is worth an estimated $3.7 billion, Forbes said.

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