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JK Rowling fell off Forbes billionaire list partly for charitable giving – but wasn’t first

“Harry Potter author JK Rowling is the first billionaire to fall off the Forbes billionaire list because of charitable giving,” reads a meme shared on Facebook in South Africa.

It was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

Causes and organisations

Rowling contributes to a number of charities. 

Her Volant Trust supports a range of causes and organisations. Rowling also founded and heads the international children’s charity Lumos, and is a past patron of both the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Maggie’s Centres for Cancer Care.

Since 2009 she has continued to support research on multiple sclerosis through the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic. Rowling also works with Dyslexia Action, English PEN and Shannon Trust.

These are just a few of her charitable commitments. 

One of the youngest on Forbes list

The Forbes billionaire list is updated annually. It’s just one of many Forbes wealth lists, which include the Richest People in Tech and Richest People in Cryptocurrency

In 2004, Rowling made headlines when she was declared one of the youngest people on the Forbes list of the world’s super-wealthy, with a net worth of $1 billion. Back then she ranked at 552 on a list of 587 billionaires.

In 2012 she fell off the billionaires list after donating an estimated $160 million to charities. Forbes reported that Britain’s high tax rates also contributed to her losing her billionaire status.

According to Forbes, Rowling is still “the highest-paid author in 2019”, even though most of her earnings no longer come from book sales. In 2019 she made $92 million.

Is she the first? 

In 2011, the year before Rowling left the list, Forbes reported that Jon Huntsman Sr was removed from the rich list after his wealth was reduced by donations to his cancer foundation. He later made it back on the list.

Rowling’s contributions to charities and UK taxes have cut her wealth back into the millions. But she is not the first billionaire to fall off the Forbes list as a result of charitable giving. – Africa Check


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