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Wednesday October 4  1:12 PM EDT

Forbes 400 Poorest Americans

By Brian Briggs

It's that time of year again when Forbes takes a look at the poorest 400 Americans by net worth poor_man.jpg (13591 bytes)as of September 30th, 2000.  Once again the list is dominated by internet investors.  It also took a lot less this year to make the list with Greg Franks at #400 with a -$26,000,000 net worth.  Several names are off the list this year as bankruptcies cleared off a lot of last year's top contenders.  On this year's list there were 217 internet stock speculators, 87 compulsive gamblers, 54 drug users, 28 overclockers and 4 compulsive shoppers.  We'll profile the top 3 poorest Americans starting with William Draper II:


William Draper II: -$1.34 billion William didn't even make the list last year but, his bet on Priceline at the beginning of March paid off big when Priceline's stock plummeted at the end of September.  His highly leveraged bet lost $235,000,000.  "It probably wasn't a good idea to take that 14th mortgage out on the house, but I had a really good feeling about Priceline and the chart looked good," said Draper.  Draper's other picks were just as fortuitous and catapulted him to the top of the list.  William spends most of his time contemplating whether bankruptcy or suicide is a more preferable solution.

Scott Ellis:  -$894 million - Scott parlayed a gambling and Beanie Baby addiction to make it to #2 on this year's list.  "I owe a lot of people a lot of money, most of them not so nice people," said Scott.  When Scott isn't running from his bookie he's on the prowl for the latest Beanie Babies on eBay.

Bernie and Evelyn Johnson: -$638 million - Another internet stock winner is Sanitation Engineer Bernie Johnson. His big bets on Kana Communications and CDnow paid off big to make it to #3 on this year's list.  Bernie is talking to lawyers about declaring bankruptcy, and wishes those "damn credit card companies" would stop calling him about getting paid.  It also helped that Bernie's wife Evelyn is a compulsive shopper, "It's really easy to get credit these days.  I have over 164 platinum cards that are maxed out!"

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