Ricardo Salinas Pliego, Mexico’s ‘Uncle Rich’ Tweets His Wealth as Others Guard Privacy

Ricardo Salinas boasts of his riches and mocks critics online, sharing posts of his helicopter, plane and yachts with more than 1.2 million Twitter followers

Ricardo Salinas speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami.
By Daniel Cancel
March 07, 2023 | 10:09 AM

Bloomberg — At a time when billionaires go to great lengths to conceal their whereabouts and wealth from the public, Mexico’s Ricardo Salinas is a rare exception.

Salinas, a retail and media magnate with a reputation for playing hardball with rivals, openly flaunts his riches and mocks critics online, sharing posts of his helicopter, plane, yachts and ranch with more than 1.2 million Twitter followers. He recently posted a video offering players of his professional soccer team Mazatlan $300,000 to split among themselves if they won.

“We didn’t win but we had a lot of fun,” Salinas wrote. “That’s what money is for, to have a great time.”

A golfer and lover of cigars and cognac, Salinas, 67, is a fervent believer in Bitcoin and retweets crypto advocates like El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and MicroStrategy Inc. co-founder Michael Saylor. He openly argues with sports reporters from ESPN and calls others “idiots.” He’s also adopted the nickname “Tio Richi,” or “Uncle Rich,” and has analyzed Scrooge McDuck for his blog.

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Salinas, who’s worth $11.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, inherited a retail business from his family and ventured into media through TV Azteca.

He later built Banco Azteca, a lender that focuses on lower-income clients and handles tens of billions of dollars in remittances each year, mostly from the US. At his Elektra stores, he also offers loans and installment payment plans to clients who buy everything from household appliances to clothes, computers and furniture. In recent years his group has begun to assemble and market cheap motorcycles, as well as sell high-speed internet through a fiber-optics business.

Salinas is known as a sharp-elbowed negotiator. Unafraid of litigation, he’s battled with local tax authorities, business rivals and bondholders alike.


His TV Azteca is currently locked in a dispute with creditors over $400 million of defaulted notes. He and a TV Azteca board member agreed in 2006 to pay a combined $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting any wrongdoing. He decided to delist his companies from US markets after the incident.

Still, the chairman of Grupo Elektra has amassed a fortune that makes him the third-wealthiest Mexican, according to the Bloomberg index, trailing telecom magnate Carlos Slim, 83, and mining tycoon German Larrea, 69.

Both are markedly more media shy than Salinas. While a non-verified Slim account on Twitter has amassed nearly 403,000 followers, it’s never posted a message. Larrea, who is among bidders for Citigroup Inc.’s local retail banking unit, is so low-profile there are hardly any public photographs of him.

“Billionaires rarely flaunt their wealth — if anything, keeping the vast inequality they represent a secret is part of how they avoid public scrutiny,” said Carl Rhodes, dean of the business school at the University of Technology Sydney, who is writing a book on the politics of billionaires.


He said it’s not “entirely clear” why Salinas would choose to engage in such displays, but “one hypothesis is that it is used to demonstrate that he has earned it on merit so he deserves it.”

Luciano Pascoe, a spokesperson for Salinas, said the billionaire is worth more than the Bloomberg index estimates, without providing details, and is showcasing his fortune “because that’s simply what he wants to do.”

“It’s a well-earned fortune and is an example of inspiration for those who want to prosper and be successful in their lives,” Pascoe said in an email.


Late Monday, after Bloomberg News sent questions about this story, Salinas posted a Twitter poll asking whether he should be more discreet about his wealth on social media. More than 80% responded he should stay the same as before.

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Salinas is showing off his huge fortune in a developing country where the latest government data show 43.9% of Mexicans lived in poverty in 2020. Extreme poverty stood at 8.5% of the population.

In recent months, Salinas posted pictures of poker games with friends, private concerts, a walking tour of his rural estate, a new plane he received from “Santa” and his helicopter waiting to take him to his plane for a trip to Uruguay.

Once there, he posted photos with fellow billionaire Alejandro Bulgheroni at his Bodega Garzon vineyard and having lunch with President Luis Lacalle Pou, “a great liberal.”


Aside from his Twitter fans, Salinas has another 342,000 followers on Instagram, 582,000 on Facebook and 63,600 subscribers to his YouTube channel as of March 6.

Salinas posts against communists and ripped Bank of International Settlements head and former Mexican central banker Agustin Carstens for saying that crypto had lost the battle against fiat currency.

One of his followers once said he was their favorite “millionaire.” Salinas replied with laughing emojis.


“Billionaire, please,” he said. “Don’t make me poorer with a stroke of the pen.”

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