Billionaires In ...This elite group of 10 tech moguls, hedge-funders, athletes and entertainers are hovering under billionaire status with a strong chance of breaking into the Forbes 400 ranks this decade.
Former Chicago Bulls wonder earned $90 million in salary during his playing career. Most of his fortune now derives from endorsement deals with his biggest sponsor, Nike; he raised his stake in the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats to 80% this year.
Avatar, the 3-D movie he directed, was a giant leap forward in cinematic special effects. It also earned $2.7 billion at the box office and is the bestselling Blu-ray disc of all time. His older films, including Titanic, have earned a combined $3 billion.
Angrier shareholders will cheer when Irani, the third-highest-paid U.S. CEO of the past decade, sets a future retirement date this fall. He'll still get paid like a prince for years. Irani's $600 million in Oxy shares could benefit from a potential 1-billion-barrel find near Bakersfield, Calif., and high oil prices.
Ackman may get control of Manhattan's giant apartment complex Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. His Pershing Square Capital Management, with a partner, picked up $300 million of its junior debt and launched a foreclosure proceeding, but they may get beaten out by more senior creditors. A judge is set to rule soon. Whatever happens, the hedge fund tycoon has raised his profile.
Chicago investor is cofounder and 30% owner of the fastest-growing company ever, Web phenom Groupon, which updates its online audience about deep discounts on products and services. His venture fund, Lightbank, has stakes in 11 companies, including two now public ones: Innerworkings and Echo Global Logistics. As for being outed as an almost-billionaire: "It's a good thing and a bad thing."
His TV show about nothing has earned $2.7 billion in 12 years and could take in $200 million more a year, thanks to syndication payments. Seinfeld has spent some of his portion buying up New York real estate and has a four-car garage (in Manhattan!) for his fleet of vintage motors. The cash-rich star may need another hit: The Marriage Ref wasn't it.
The Hollywood producer's blockbuster franchises, like Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure, have generated $9 billion at the global box office, with more to come. TV hits include the CSI franchise, Without a Trace and Amazing Race. (Photo: Phil McCarten/UPI/Newscom)
Love-him-or-hate-him leader of Internet's most popular gaming site, Zynga, named for his late bulldog. Pincus' fourth startup, it grosses some $500 million from virtual goods and promotions with 7-Eleven, Target, MTV. "FarmVille," "FrontierVille" and "Zynga Poker" are its most popular games.
Cofounder of Napster and Plaxo, Parker was the Silicon Valley veteran who joined Facebook in 2004 as its founding president and helped it navigate initial funding. He left in 2005 for venture capital but still has a 4% stake. Justin Timberlake plays Parker in the upcoming film The Social Network.
(Photo: Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images for Burda Media)