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Telling Fortunes

No. 16: John Paul Dejoria

Age: 69Home: AustinNet Worth: $4 billion

A lifelong salesman who grew up dirt poor in L.A.’s Echo Park, DeJoria was going through a divorce and living out of his car when he and celebrity hairstylist Paul Mitchell started John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980. They had two things going for them: the quality of the shampoo (it was single-application; no more rinse and repeat) and DeJoria’s sales ability. From an initial investment of $700, John Paul Mitchell Systems now sells $1 billion annually, in 87 countries. But that’s only the beginning. In 1989 DeJoria decided America needed a premium tequila and co-founded Patrón Spirits. His buddy Clint Eastwood featured Patrón in a film, his other buddy Wolfgang Puck served it in his restaurants, and today it sells nearly 2.4 million cases a year. Committed to environmental and social causes, DeJoria also started a jewelry company that sells only conflict-free diamonds. Among his charitable priorities are saving whales, teaching impoverished Appalachian families to grow their own food, and sheltering abused Austin kids. He even wrote a letter once that persuaded Wheel of Fortune to stop awarding furs.


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