Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Barbara Carlson Gage are the richest Minnesotans

Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Barbara Carlson Gage have done pretty well in what's called the "daughter business."

The two women, heiresses to the Carlson hospitality fortune, are the richest people in Minnesota, according to Forbes magazine, which yesterday released its annual list of the richest people in America.

As it turns out, a fortunate birth is Minnesotans' best chance to get wealthy: The next-richest person in the state behind Nelson and Gage was Whitney MacMillan, heiress to the Cargill, Inc. food fortune.

Work your way far enough down the list, and you'll finally locate some self-made Minnesotans. But they're literally hundreds of millions of dollars behind these lucky ladies. And, as Forbes points out -- in the way that only Forbes can -- this was an awesome year to be rich in America.

The top of Forbes' list, which it's calling, "The Forbes 400: A Banner Year for the Richest in America," contains few surprises.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, as usual, tops the rankings with an estimated 59 billion goddamn dollars. Coming in significantly behind Gates -- but still way better off than you -- is investment maven Warren Buffet, who has something like $39 billion to his name. Gates and Buffett famously have pledged to give away as much of their preposterous bank accounts as possible, leaving minimal amounts to their own children.

Apparently, Minnesotans kind of like to go the other way on that: Carlson Nelson, who inherited the Carlson Companies from her father, Curtis Carlson, and Gage, who runs the gigantic Carlson Foundation charity, each have around $3 billion, thanks to their last name.

That gigantic amount still leaves them way back, tied for the No. 117 richest in America. Man, America must be really rich these days!

Even better, Carlson and Gage are pretty much  at retirement age: According to the Business Journal, Barbara's 69, and Marilyn's 72, meaning they can finally think about kicking off their shoes and enjoying themselves.

Whitney MacMillan, the 82-year-old heiress to the Cargill, Inc. cash, comes in at No. 150 with $2.6 billion.

Coasting in at No. 212, with a lot less dough than any of those gals, is Best Buy founder Richard Schulze, who's got around $2 billion. Behind him comes Stanley Hubbard, of Hubbard broadcasting, with $1.9 billion (good enough for No. 227), and Glen Taylor, communications magnate and Minnesota Timberwolves owner, with about $1.8 billion, at No. 242.

So, there you have it, Minnesota. Your best way to strike it rich in this state is to be somebody's daughter -- preferably if Pops had a few billion to spare.

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