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NATIONAL REPORT — The number of billionaires across the globe dipped in the past year, but three convenience store industry giants still secured spots on Forbes magazine's 2016 The World's Billionaires list.
According to the 30th annual guide to the world's richest people, there was a total of 1,810 billionaires, down from a record 1,826 a year ago. Their aggregate net worth: $6.48 trillion, $570 billion less than last year.
The United States still leads the world with 540 billionaires — including the No. 1 seed, Bill Gates.
Leading the way in terms of c-store industry billionaires are Tom and Judy Love at the No. 205 spot, with a net worth of $5.9 billion. Among just U.S. billionaires, the couple holds the No. 72 position.
They leased their first gas station in Watonga, Okla., in 1964 for $5,000. A few years later, they launched a convenience store. Today, Oklahoma City-based Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores is a national chain with more than 300 locations in 39 states.
This is not the couple's first time on the list. According to Forbes, Tom and Judy Love landed at the No. 418 spot in 2015's billionaires ranking.
Also making a repeat appearance this year is Alain Bouchard, the executive chairman of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., based in Laval, Quebec. He sits in the No. 638 spot overall, with a net worth of $2.7 billion. He holds the No. 13 spot in Canada.
Bouchard began the convenience store company with one Quebec store in 1980 and served as president and CEO until September 2014, growing the business by acquiring competitors like the Circle K convenience store chain in 2003 and Scandinavian fuel and retail giant Statoil in 2012. In 2015, Couche-Tard acquired The Pantry Inc., adding approximately 1,500 stores in the Southeast. One month ago, it purchased Topaz Energy Group, with 444 gas and convenience stations in Ireland.
According to Forbes, Bouchard ranked No. 737 in 2015's global billionaires ranking.
Rounding out this year's convenience store industry billionaires is Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J, who ranked No. 771 on this year's overall list with a $2.3-billion net worth. He is ranked No. 277 in the U.S.
Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America, with more than 650 retail locations. The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 65,000 parking spaces for trucks, 4,400 showers and more than 4,000 diesel lanes offering diesel exhaust fluid at the pump.
Haslam is also owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns. He was ranked No. 663 by Forbes in 2015.
Haslam's father began the travel stop company in 1958 and his brother Bill, the current governor of Tennessee, served as president until 1999. Bill Haslam also ranks among the 2016 World's Billionaires with a net worth of $1.6 billion.