No. 14: Robert Rowling
Net Worth: $4.9 billion
When Bob Rowling makes the news, there’s typically a conservative cause somewhere in the story. Last year, reports placed him and his company, TRT Holdings, among the top givers to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC, to the tune of $6 million. A longtime donor to Rick Perry, he resigned from his Perry-appointed spot on the UT Board of Regents after throwing his support to Kay Bailey Hutchison before the 2010 governor’s race. And he first made headlines in the nineties, after purchasing the Omni hotel chain and dropping on-demand porn from in-room amenities. Rowling tried lawyering before joining his dad’s oil and gas company, in 1981. During the bust they expanded, then cashed out big to Texaco—$476.5 million—in 1989, at which point the younger Rowling diversified. The Omni chain came in 1996, followed by Gold’s Gym in 2004, and both have grown steadily since. Now, through generous giving to the University of Texas, the family name is on the east side of Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium and will soon be on a new 458,000-square-foot hall at the McCombs School of Business.