15 Billionaires Who Were Once Dirt Poor


15. Kenny Troutt

AFRICANGLOBE – Wealth tends to create more wealth, but a rich background is not the only way to the top. Some of the world’s wealthiest people started out dirt poor.

All from humble beginnings, these 15 people not only climbed to the top of their industries but also became some of the richest people in the world.

Although the rich do get richer, these rags-to-riches stories remind us that through determination, grit, and a bit of luck anyone can overcome their circumstances and achieve extraordinary success.


Kenny Troutt, the founder of Excel Communications, paid his way through college by selling life insurance.

Net worth: $1.7 billion (as of Sept. 2013)

Troutt grew up with a bartender dad and paid for his own tuition at Southern Illinois University by selling life insurance. He made most of his money from phone company Excel Communications, which he founded in 1988 and took public in 1996. Two years later, Troutt merged his company with Teleglobe in a $3.5 billion deal.

He’s now retired and invests heavily in racehorses.

Kenny Troutt