Three San Antonio residents made Forbes’ recent 2022 list of the world’s billionaires, the annual and imperfect venture to map out the richest people on the planet. And since last year, all three experienced windfalls worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Forbes calculates the list primarily using stock prices and exchange rates to determine the individuals’ net worth on a single day in March, but it also takes into account the value of some real estate, art and more. The list is only an estimation, and the magazine cautions that it is always incomplete.
The three San Antonio billionaires on the 2022 list are Christopher “Kit” Goldsbury, the local investor behind the Pearl who made his fortune selling Pace Foods to Campbell Soup Company; James Leininger, a medical device company owner who has left a sizable impact on the state’s conservative politics; and Red McCombs, the former owner of the San Antonio Spurs whose car dealerships propelled him to become a civic and business leader in San Antonio.
This year’s list didn’t include three other San Antonians who have previously appeared on the list. They are Charles Butt, the chairman and CEO of H-E-B; Rodney Lewis, an oil and natural gas magnate; and Graham Weston, the youngest of the bunch most famous for launching Rackspace and reshaping downtown as a developer. Here’s a roundup of some of the city’s richest citizens, and where they landed (or not) on this year’s Forbes list.
Christopher ‘Kit’ Goldsbury (No. 1,645)
Goldsbury saw his fortune grow a cool $100 million over the last year by Forbes’ calculation. His total wealth was estimated at $1.8 billion.
The former salsa magnate’s most widely recognized mark on San Antonio is likely the Pearl, which was developed with the backing of his private equity firm, Silver Ventures. The firm has been involved in high-end hotels like the Westin Riverwalk and the Hotel Contessa, and it also invests in middle-market food companies.
But Goldsbury’s path to wealth started with a marriage. Two years after marrying the daughter of Pace Foods’ founder, he joined the company and rose through its ranks to become its president roughly a decade later. The company was sold to Campbell Soup for $1.12 billion in 1994.
Goldsbury had by that time separated from his wife, Linda Pace, a collector who founded San Antonio’s Artpace and died in 2007. Goldsbury also heads the Goldsbury Foundation, and has been a major donor for a conservative group called Tea Party Patriots.
James Leininger (tied for No. 1,729)
The title for San Antonio’s second-richest person is shared by Leininger and B.J. “Red” McCombs.
Leininger, also known as “Doctor Jim,” saw his fortune grow by $200 million in 2021, now totaling $1.7 billion, according to Forbes.
Leininger made his fortune as the founder of medical devices company Kinetic Concepts, which focuses on wound care. The company was bought by private equity firm Apax Partners in 2012 for $6.3 billion, when Leininger was the largest shareholder. He also invests through a venture firm called MedCare Investment Funds, which manages $1 billion in assets.
Leininger has sought to exert a libertarian pull on state government through the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank he founded in 1989. The foundation has pushed for public school vouchers, criminal justice reform and encouraging free enterprise and fossil fuel production. He also has donated millions to state political candidates.
Leininger also holds a small stake in the San Antonio Spurs.
Red McCombs (tied for No. 1,729)
In terms of net worth, McCombs has followed Leininger’s trajectory almost exactly for the last few years. In 2021, his wealth grew by $200 million, putting him at a total of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes.
Billy Joe McCombs, who got his nickname from his hair color, was the son of a mechanic in West Texas. He moved to San Antonio in 1958 to start a car dealership that would one day become the Red McCombs Automotive Group. McCombs was one of the original owners of the Spurs franchise, having helped bring the team to San Antonio in 1973.
He was also a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, today known as iHeartMedia, the largest radio station group owner in the United States by both number of stations and by revenue. The company was acquired in a leveraged buyout in 2008 for $26.7 billion by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners.
McCombs has served in leadership positions at Southwestern University and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the University of Texas at Austin’s business school bears his name. He once held a sizable stake in the controversial military contractor formerly known as Blackwater.
He pursues philanthropy through the McCombs Foundation. A $30 million donation to MD Anderson from McCombs and his wife in 2005 created the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer.
Charles Butt (unranked)
The grandson of H-E-B’s founder hasn’t made the Forbes’ list since 2015, but it’s not because he’s not a billionaire. In 2016 the magazine began cutting individuals whose families share their fortune, like the Butts.
In 2020, Forbes calculated the family’s net worth at $17.8 billion, making the Butts the 15th wealthiest family in the country. Charles Butt took reins as the company’s CEO and chairman in 1971. He owns it alongside his sister and two nephews. The company is estimated by the magazine to employ around 140,000 individuals and to have an annual revenue of $32.8 billion.
Founded in 1905, H-E-B is Texas’ largest private company.
He makes philanthropic grants through the Charles Butt Foundation, which has a focus on public education.
Rodney Lewis (unranked)
Lewis founded Lewis Energy Group, of which he is the CEO. He dropped off Forbes’ ranking in 2019, before which he had an estimated fortune of $1.3 billion.
Lewis grew up in Laredo and purchased his first oil well for $13,000 in 1982. Over the following decades he’s acquired 500,000 acres in the Eagle Ford Shale, making his company one of Texas’ biggest gas producers.
He is thought to be the largest owner of air-worthy World War II fighter planes. He also owns the world’s largest single-masted yacht, which with a 292-foot tall mast cannot sail under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
In years past Lewis and his wife pursued philanthropy through the Rod and Kim Lewis Foundation, such as providing furnishings for the Lewis Energy Academic Center at Laredo Community College.
Graham Weston (unranked)
Rackspace founder and downtown developer Graham Weston made an appearance on Forbes’ list in 2013, when his net worth was estimated at $1.3 billion, before dropping off. His current net worth is unclear, but court filings last year connected to divorce proceedings stated that Weston has more than $1 billion in assets and income.
The bulk of the San Antonio native’s original fortune came from Rackspace, which he founded as a web-hosting service. He left in 2006, 10 years before it was bought for $4.3 billion by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. He also co-founded Geekdom, the downtown tech startup incubator. Since leaving Rackspace, Weston has emerged as a major downtown developer. His firm Weston Urban‘s projects in recent years have included developing the Frost Tower and renovating the Rand Building.
Outside of his business dealings, Weston co-founded nonprofit Community Labs to ramp up COVID-19 testing in the city. He also pursues philanthropy through his 80/20 Foundation.
Charles Butt, the Charles Butt Foundation, Red McCombs Automotive and the 80/20 Foundation are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.