Many Americans Expect to Become the ‘Billionaire Next Door’

“I wanna be a billionaire so bad…The world better prepare for when I’m a billionaire,” Bruno Mars sang in his 2010 video hit, “Billionaire.”

Forget the saying about the hidden “millionaire next door.” Get ready for sleuth billionaires.

A new Harris poll reveals just how many want to—and believe—they can achieve this prized status.

Sixty percent of Americans want to become a billionaire, and 44% think they have what it takes to become one.

This lofty status is even more pronounced among cryptocurrency investors, 71% of whom believe they can become this wealthy, the “Americans & Billionaires Surveyfinds.

So, what has spurred the fascination with this ultra-exclusive class, which counts among its most esteemed members Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, President Trump, Kim Kardashian and LeBron James?

The pandemic and lopsided recovery have favored big businesses and a lucky few who gambled on such ventures as home gyms, home schooling, video streaming or home office apps. COVID-19’s K-shaped recovery has produced “one of the greatest wealth transfers” in history, as CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer puts it, with the collective wealth of billionaires skyrocketing by $2.1 trillion, or 70%, in the aftermath of COVID.

Love ’em/Hate ’em

Americans are divided over their feelings towards billionaires, with 65% and 63% regarding them as helping accelerate innovation and as good for society—yet nearly half, 46%, believe billionaires make it more difficult to achieve the American Dream.

Young people also are more likely to think that billionaires stand in the way of their personal dreams, with nearly 60% of Gen Z respondents, and 46% of respondents in general, feeling this way.

Similarly, a significant level of animus exists towards billionaires, particularly when it comes to their acquisitions. With Musk’s attempted purchase of Twitter dominating the news, 42% of Americans believe of this financial class should not be allowed to purchase a social media platform, and 28% believe billionaires should be banned from posting on social media altogether.

‘Pay Your Fair Share’

With wealth inequality at an historic level in the nation, nearly half of Americans, 47%, feel there should be some sort of limit on wealth accumulation, and 65% don’t think billionaires pay their fair share of taxes.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a frequent critic of the super rich, has often argued for increased taxation of the upper class, saying, “We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period.”

The debate over taxing the wealthy has taken place for years, with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts being a vocal advocate for taxing billionaires, even going as far as selling a campaign mug saying, “Billionaire Tears” during her 2020 campaign for president.

In addition to higher taxes on the rich, Americans believe billionaires should also pay their fair share in terms of philanthropy. Seventy percent believe billionaires should be doing more to improve society and aren’t, in fact, doing enough, with 76% of Boomers maintaining that billionaires have a responsibility and should give back more to society.

‘Build Assets, Generate Income’

Despite the mixed feelings about the super-rich, the fact that over 40% of Americans believe they have the tools necessary to become billionaires means a large segment of the population has high aspirations—to put it mildly.

However, believing you have the tools available to become a billionaire, and having that rare skillset, are two different things.

The data continues to show a cloudy economy for consumers, as wages are not keeping up with inflation; auto and medical debt remains at all-time highs; and household savings rates are at their lowest levels since The Great Recession.

The reality is that 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and nearly 40% do not have $400 in emergency savings at their disposal, causing a record number of American workers to take two full-time jobs to keep up with inflation.

Owner of Florida based Opta Financial, Freddie Rappina, tells CNBC that if one wants to become a billionaire, more action is needed than just investing.

Rappina maintains that the surest way to achieve wealth is to invest, build assets, and use those proceeds and assets to generate income. As he puts it: “Investments don’t make you rich; income makes you rich.”

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