Business

Meet the Five Richest People in Colorado Today

Pat Stryker is based in Fort Collins.
Pat Stryker is based in Fort Collins. Bohemian Foundation
The just-released 2020 edition of the Forbes 400, which tracks the wealthiest people in America, includes five Coloradans — the same quintet that made the list in Westword's first post on the subject, published back in 2014.

Since then, however, there have been some changes. The richest Colorado billionaires have jockeyed for position over the years, occasionally winding up in different slots nationally and when it comes to state bragging rights. And according to Forbes, all five are worth less today than they were at this time in 2019.

Not that anyone needs to create a GoFundMe page for any of them. Their estimated net worth currently ranges from $2.6 billion to $10.1 billion.

Arguably the most famous name on the roster is Phil Anschutz, who branched out from oil into other forms of energy as well as entertainment, hospitality and publishing, including the Denver Gazette, a news website that's set to debut on Monday, September 14. Also making headlines of late is cheese-magnate James Leprino, who's being sued by two of his nieces in a battle involving the family business, Leprino Foods (the site of a COVID-19 outbreak back in April). They're joined by "cable cowboy" John Malone, Dish Network's Charlie Ergen and Fort Collins-based philanthropist Pat Stryker.

In what order did they land? And how much money have they lost over the past twelve months? Here are their respective entries in the Forbes 400, including capsule descriptions from Forbes and their previous rankings.

Pat Stryker accepting a 2014-2015 Service Above Self award from the Rotary Club of Fort Collins. - ROTARY CLUB OF FORT COLLINS
Pat Stryker accepting a 2014-2015 Service Above Self award from the Rotary Club of Fort Collins.
5. Pat Stryker

REAL TIME NET WORTH as of 9/10/20: $2.6B
2020 Forbes 400 ranking: No. 339

"Pat Stryker is a philanthropist and founder of Bohemian Foundation, which supports music, community, global and civic programs. The healthcare heir has given $225 million to charity over her lifetime, primarily through the foundation. Her grandfather founded Stryker Corp., which sold $14.9 billion worth of medical equipment in 2019. In 2016, she and her brother, Jon Stryker, gave a combined $10 million to fund the nation's first memorial to the victims of racial terror lynchings. In September 2017, her foundation offered to match Coloradoans' donations to hurricane relief up to $3 million."

2014 Forbes 400 ranking: 324
2015 Forbes 400 ranking: 293
2016 Forbes 400 ranking: 264
2017 Forbes 400 ranking: 248
2018 Forbes 400 ranking: 354
2019 Forbes 400 net worth: $2.9 billion

A stand-in graphic for the camera-shy James Leprino. - WESTWORD FILE IMAGE
A stand-in graphic for the camera-shy James Leprino.
Westword file image
4: James Leprino

REAL TIME NET WORTH as of 9/10/20: $3B
2020 Forbes 400 ranking: No. 278

"James Leprino owns the world's largest mozzarella cheese maker, with $3.5 billion in estimated annual sales. His Leprino Foods is the exclusive supplier of cheese to Domino's, Papa John's and Pizza Hut. After graduating high school in 1956, he started working with his father full-time at his market. In 1958, after larger chain grocery stores had forced the Leprino market to close, the Leprino Foods cheese empire started with $615. Today, Leprino Foods has more than 50 patents. Those innovations are essentially how Leprino created the "pizza cheese" that Americans eat today."

2014 Forbes 400 ranking: 194
2015 Forbes 400 ranking: 211
2016 Forbes 400 ranking: 232
2017 Forbes 400 ranking: 264
2018 Forbes 400 ranking: 179
2019 Forbes 400 net worth: $3.6  billion

John Malone is known as the Cable Cowboy. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
John Malone is known as the Cable Cowboy.
YouTube file photo
3: John Malone

REAL TIME NET WORTH as of 9/10/20: $6.6B
2020 Forbes 400 ranking: No. 95

"Nicknamed the Cable Cowboy, John Malone is known for his penchant for media deals and complicated corporate structures. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Malone built up cable TV firm TCI as right hand man to founder Bob Magness (d. 1996). Malone became the CEO of TCI 1973 at 29 years old, then sold the firm to AT&T for more than $50 billion in 1999. His Liberty Media, which owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team, closed a $4.4 billion acquisition of auto-racing league Formula 1 in January 2017. In 2018, Malone retired from the boards of telecom giant Charter Communications and entertainment firm Lions Gate."

2014 Forbes 400 ranking: 60
2015 Forbes 400 ranking: 68
2016 Forbes 400 ranking: 61
2017 Forbes 400 ranking: 56
2018 Forbes 400 ranking: 67
2019 Forbes 400 net worth: $7.3 billion

Charlie Ergen is the man behind Dish Network. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
Charlie Ergen is the man behind Dish Network.
YouTube file photo
Charles Ergen

REAL TIME NET WORTH as of 9/10/20: $9.3B
2020 Forbes 400 ranking: No. 54

"Charlie Ergen is the cofounder and chairman of satellite TV provider Dish Network and satellite communications company EchoStar. Ergen first began selling satellite dishes out of the back of a truck in Colorado in 1980. He took Dish public in 1996. Today, it boasts over 11 million subscribers. EchoStar, which has some two dozen satellites in space, was spun off from Dish in 2008. As a condition of the Sprint-T-Mobile merger in 2020, Dish is building a 5G network to cover at least 70% of the U.S. by 2023."

2014 Forbes 400 ranking: 26
2015 Forbes 400 ranking: 28
2016 Forbes 400 ranking: 28
2017 Forbes 400 ranking: 30
2018 Forbes 400 ranking: 44
2019 Forbes 400 net worth: $10.8 billion

Phil Anschutz, right, with Jack Vickers at the dedication of a Boys & Girls Club in Denver circa 2013. - FREE LUNCH PHOTOGRAPHY
Phil Anschutz, right, with Jack Vickers at the dedication of a Boys & Girls Club in Denver circa 2013.
Free Lunch Photography
1: Philip Anschutz

REAL TIME NET WORTH as of 9/10/20: $10.1B
2020 Forbes 400 ranking: No. 50

"Over five decades, Philip Anschutz has built fortunes in oil, railroads, telecom, real estate and entertainment. He owns the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and a third of the Los Angeles Lakers, plus the arena in which they play, the Staples Center. His Anschutz Entertainment Group operates more than 100 arenas and concert venues worldwide. On 300,000 acres he owns in Wyoming, Anschutz aims to build one of the world's biggest wind farms. He started testing his business acumen early: a six-year-old Anschutz sold Kool-Aid on a nearby college campus using a wheeled stand he built."

2014 Forbes 400 ranking: 40
2015 Forbes 400 ranking: 43
2016 Forbes 400 ranking: 39
2017 Forbes 400 ranking: 35
2018 Forbes 400 ranking: 40
2019 Forbes 400 net worth: $11.5 billion
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts