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Thanks partly to the pandemic, Donald Trump has dropped off the Forbes 400 list

Former President Donald Trump holds a Save America rally in Perry, Ga., in September. Trump is unlikely to take falling off the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans in stride.
Peter Zay
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump holds a Save America rally in Perry, Ga., in September. Trump is unlikely to take falling off the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans in stride.

Former President Donald Trump has reportedly long been obsessed with the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans — specifically, his place on it. So, he's unlikely to be pleased with its latest iteration — which doesn't include him at all.

It's the first time in 25 years that Trump hasn't made the annual list, which debuted in 1982.

Forbes reports that while the former president, who ranked No. 339 in 2020, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, "he is down $600 million since the start of the pandemic."

The magazine says that while many sectors thrived as a result of COVID-19, "big-city properties — which make up the bulk of Trump's fortune — have languished."

For the fourth year in a row, Trump nemesis Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon who flew into space aboard his Blue Origin company's rocket this year, topped the list, with an estimated net wealth of $201 billion. Another space pioneer, Elon Musk, is runner up with $190.5 billion — almost three times his net wealth a year ago, thanks largely to the increased market value of his auto and alternative energy company, Tesla. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg comes in third, and Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, is at No. 4.

As for Trump, if the past is any example, he is unlikely to take lightly the news that he's off the famous list.

In 1985, Trump "invented a fake persona to lie about a transfer of wealth from his father," according to Forbes. "Forbes fell for that ruse — taking Fred Trump off the list and listing Donald alone. But five years later, we published an explosive story, uncovering the trouble brewing inside Trump's empire," the magazine said.

Beginning in 1996, Trump secured a spot among the 400 and remained there for 25 years. However, Forbes says, "things took a turn for the worse the year he won the presidency. After five years of dropping in the rankings, he's now off the list entirely."

But the magazine says it didn't have to be that way. Senior editor Dan Alexander writes: "If Trump is looking for someone to blame, he can start with himself. Five years ago, he had a golden opportunity to diversify his fortune. Fresh off the 2016 election, federal ethics officials were pushing Trump to divest his real estate assets. That would have allowed him to reinvest the proceeds into broad-based index funds and assume office free of conflicts of interest."

If, according to Forbes, Trump had "managed to avoid capital gains taxes" and instead taken his $3.5 billion when he became president and reinvested it in the S&P 500, it would have been worth about $7 billion by September, keeping him comfortably on the list at No. 133.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.