New Orleans, LA

The richest person in New Orleans

Luay Rahil
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, Forbes published its annual list Forbes 400, which ranks the richest Americans by their net worths. The 400 richest Americans saw their combined wealth increase 40% over the last year, to $4.5 trillion. Almost all are richer than last year.

Today, I will uncover the richest person in New Orleans, Louisiana.

According to Forbes Magazine, only one billionaire on the Forbes 400 considers Kentucky home. Her name is Gayle Benson, with a net worth of $3.8B. She is the 300 richest person in the country.

Who is Gayle Benson?

Gayle Benson is an American billionaire, businesswoman, and the owner of two premier sports franchises. She is a charismatic woman who knows how powerful she is, but you will never hear her saying it.

She speaks with confidence and carries herself with grace. She is humble and loves New Orleans.

She was born across the river in Old Algiers.

Gayle Benson was born on January 26, 1947, and grew in Algiers, a historic neighborhood, the only Orleans Parish community west of the Mississippi River.

Gayle started her career in receptionist and secretarial positions before buying and renovating homes with her second husband, Thomas Bird. In 1987, The couple got divorced, but Gayle continued doing business under Gayle Bird Interiors, Ltd.

In 2004, She married Thomas Benson and stayed married to him until he died in 2018, and for the last four years of his life, he was in a legal battle with his daughter and his grandchildren over his decision to shift control of some assets from his daughter and her children to Gayle Benson.

Bloomberg reported that "The grandchildren, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, had been involved in running parts of the family businesses. The dispute culminated in a mental competency hearing, where a New Orleans judge held that, despite "memory lapses," Benson was able to manage his affairs."

After his death, she became the principal owner of The New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association and the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League.

Gayle, 74, has no heirs.

Gayle Benson has exceptional leadership skills and a powerful presence in the local community. She committed to contributing to the growth and improvement of the Gulf South region.

According to, since 2007, Gayle and Tom Benson's foundation has donated more than $100 million to local organizations, including Catholic schools, universities, and hospitals.

Since Gayle has no heirs, the plan for her empire has been one of the best-kept secrets in the country. Finally, however, there are indicators that the Saints will be sold.

Jeff Duncan wrote, "When Gayle Benson dies, the Saints will be sold. The proceeds — likely billions of dollars — will be given away through charities to benefit the people of New Orleans. And team executives are already working to ensure that whoever buys the Saints will keep them in the city."

Gayle said, "I can't take it with me. God gives us gifts, and this is a gift. I am a steward of this (organization). And we help other people with it. My wish is to scatter all the good and gifts that God and Tom have given me to this city and community."

If you had Gayle's money, what would you do?

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