Personal Finance

You may have bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket with dreams of becoming a billionaire.

It turns out many individuals are reaching that level of wealth the old-fashioned way.

The total number of billionaires is growing, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, reaching 2,158 individuals worldwide in 2017, a new study shows.

Billionaire wealth grew by 19 percent to $8.9 trillion in 2017 — the largest increase historically, according to the latest report on billionaires from UBS and PwC.

That surge comes largely from two places: Asia, specifically China, and the U.S.

The U.S. added 53 new billionaires in 2017 — a 4 percent increase — bringing its total to 585. That represents $125 billion in total wealth.

But China’s billionaire population grew at a faster clip — two new billionaires per week. The country added 106 new billionaires over the course of the year, while 51 fell off the list, “illustrating the risks of doing business in China,” the report said.

As a result, China added 55 net new billionaires for a total of 373 in 2017. In 2006, the country had just 16 billionaires.

Right now, the Americas region is still in the lead when it comes to total billionaire wealth.

But Asia, in total, now has more billionaires than the U.S. And within a few years, its billionaire wealth is also poised to surpass the U.S.

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One reason for that is the growing Asian tech industry.

China currently has 67 companies with unicorn status — start-ups valued at over $1 billion — compared to 119 in the U.S.

In 2017, China created more self-made billionaire entrepreneurs, with 89 versus 30 in the U.S.

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