Must be nice, right?

As per reports from the Denver Post, Colorado's eight billionaires have acquired $9.7 billion in new wealth since last March - quite the contrast to the hundreds and thousands of Coloradans who lost their jobs, homes and livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the last year.

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Although acquiring any piece of the $9.7 billion must've added a pretty penny (or a few) to each billionaire's already large fortune, nobody made more money between March 18, 2020 and last Thursday (Mar. 18, 2021) than Charlie Ergen, the co-founder of Dish Network and EchoStar; according to data from Forbes, Ergen was worth $5.4 billion last March and is now worth $10.7 billion.

After adding about $5.3 billion to his fortune in the past year, Charlie Ergen is now the richest person in Colorado.

Many have compared the economic downfall of 2020 to events that transpired during the Great Recession; Markus Schneider, a professor of economics at the University of Denver, says that although similar, what occurred economically as a result of the global pandemic was somewhat different than what occurred during the Great Recession.

The stock market has soared since plummeting in the early stages of the pandemic last March, bringing investors large gains even as unemployment rates remain well above pre-pandemic levels.

“As has become painfully clear, the stock market is not, in fact, the economy,” Schneider said. “Recently they are trending quite differently and yes, in a downturn like this if you’re relying on income from work then you’re in a much more vulnerable position.

“This is where the pandemic is very different from the Great Recession,” he added. “During the Great Recession, things happened in financial markets and therefore, of course, the stock market also declined rather rapidly.”

Below are some of the other Colorado billionaires who added to their already-massive fortunes during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Ken Tuchman, founder of Englewood-based TTEC - made $1.8 billion over the last year, now worth $3.1 billion
  • John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media - made $2.3 billion over the last year, now worth $8.1 billion
  • Pat Stryker, medical technology heiress and Colorado’s richest woman - made $900 million over the last year, now worth $2.9 billion
  • Gary Magness, media heir - made $500 million over the last year, now worth $1.6 billion

To Chuck Collins, a scholar at the progressive Institute for Policy Studies and author of several books on income inequality, this global pandemic has proven that billionaires are blatantly ostracized from the rest of the economy.

“I was watching billionaire wealth during the Great Recession in 2008-2009, when the total assets of the Forbes 400 went down for four years, declined with the fortunes of everyone else and didn’t recover to 2007 levels until 2013,” he said. “So, I thought (last year) that the economy’s going to get hammered, wealthy people are going to feel the pain like others, and that is clearly not the case.”

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