In Bentonville, the Walton family models their Arkansas stronghold with millions of dollars

In early September 2021, at the top of the magazine’s annual list of 400 billionaires Forbes, were the “Usual suspects” : Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Elon Musk (Tesla), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft) … And then, from eleventh place, the “usual strangers”: Jim Walton, Alice Walton and Rob Walton, in their seventies all three with a fortune of 68 billion dollars (60 billion euros). Going down the rankings, we find three more Waltons – Lukas, Nancy, Chrysty – for a total of $ 34 billion. The addition is quickly made: in September 2021, the Walton family was the richest in the United States, with a fortune of $ 238 billion, ahead of Jeff Bezos (200 billion).

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Strangers in Europe, who are not across the Atlantic. Walton like… Walmart: Jim, Alice and Rob are the children of Sam Walton (1918-1992), the founder of Walmart supermarkets, created in 1962, in the depths of Arkansas, in the small town of Bentonville. From this region of the Ozarks, on the borders of Missouri and Oklahoma, Sam Walton and his successors conquered America and then the planet: with his 2.3 million employees worldwide, 11,000 stores including 4 600 in the United States, Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States and the world.

Resistance against Amazon

Above all, the multinational is organizing resistance against Amazon, with some success, since its figure is still higher than that of the world leader in Internet sales (570 billion dollars in turnover against 470 expected for Amazon in 2021) and that it showed better results than expected. The firm also made the fortune of the Waltons, who still own 40% of this company valued at 400 billion dollars, in particular because their father had sold them his titles when they were of little value, paying a minimum inheritance tax.

The story begins in Bentonville, Arkansas, for which there is a direct flight from New York. On arrival, everything is Walton, everything is Walmart: in the airport lobby, the University of Arkansas advertises the MBA (Master of Business Administration) which bears Walton’s name; on the road to the airport, immediately, three gigantic Walmart warehouses; the boulevard is called Samuel-Walton while the aparthotel bears the name of South Walton Suites. And in the city center, on the pretty sunny square, is the Walmart Museum, to the glory of the founder.

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