American politics has witnessed a steady infusion of billionaires and one more billionaire who has joined the fray is J. B. Pritzker. Pritzker first made his name and fortune in the business world. The lifelong progressive later took up several positions in the Democratic Party. Pritzker is now the Governor of Illinois having defeated the Republican incumbent in November 2018. So, who really is he and what amount of fortune did he amass before going into public service? All these and more questions about the billionaire cum governor are answered.
J. B. Pritzker’s Background
Jay Robert Pritzker was born on the 19th of January 1965 in Atherton, California. His father’s name is Donald while his mother’s name is Sue. He also has two elder siblings namely Penny and Anthony. Pritzker holds a degree in political science from Duke University. He also studied law at Northwestern University and was enrolled in the Chicago and Illinois bar. J. B. Pritzker inherited his progressive views from his social activist of a mom. He, therefore, became a democrat at an early age and worked on the campaigns of several Democratic candidates. He also worked for several congressional democrats and founded an organisation aimed at attracting young people to the party.
J. B. Pritzker first contested for public office in 1998, aiming to join the House of Representatives. He, however, could not scale the primaries and finished 3rd.
The businessman made his second attempt in 2018, running for the Governorship of Illinois. This second coming was a success as he comprehensively defeated the incumbent to emerge Governor of Illinois in November 2018. Pritzker was sworn in January 2019 and has used his tenure to advance the progressive views he has always cherished.
The governor has repealed a law which placed restrictions and bans on abortions. He has also signed a law fortifying gun control measures and improving the state’s health insurance program. Additionally, Pritzker, who proudly describes himself as the son of refugees, is at the forefront of the immigration battle in the United States. He has expanded access to welcome centres for refugees and immigrants. He has also banned state and local law enforcement from collaborating with the dreaded federal institution, ICE.
What is J.B. Pritzker’s Net Worth?
J.B. Pritzker has a net worth running into billions of dollars. This has earned him the record of the wealthiest governor in the history of the United States. He is also the 2nd wealthiest politician to ever hold public office in America. The first place honours go to Michael Bloomberg; the billionaire founder of Bloomberg L.P. who served as the mayor of New York for 11 years.
So, how did Pritzker make his fortune? The governor primarily amassed his wealth from two sources namely, family inheritance and personal business endeavours. J. B. Pritzker hails from the family that owns the Hyatt Hotel chain. His paternal uncle, Jay, initially purchased the Hyatt hotel while his dad, Donald, took over the management. Donald Pritzker was able to turn the Hyatt Hotels from just six branches to 777 properties. The Hyatt Hotel Corporations is now the 5th largest hotel chain in the world. It has properties in about 54 countries and is valued at $8 billion.
Pritzker also made his fortune from his own business ventures. The governor had teamed up with his elder brother, Anthony, to establish a successful private equity firm known as Pritzker Group. Pritzker Group now owns and runs several industrial firms. The company also has investments in several companies including SpaceX (Elon Musk’s rocket firm), and Dollar Shave Club (a startup that was sold to Unilever for $1 billion in July 2016).
J B Pritzker is also the founder of 1871. 1871 is a non-profit small business incubator based in Chicago. It has helped entrepreneurs create 1,000 new companies and 11,000 new jobs. The initiative has also repositioned Chicago amongst the top ten tech startup hubs in the world. All these ventures has boosted the Governor’s net worth to a whopping $3.4 billion.
Asides his exploits in business and politics, Pritzker has also made a name for himself with his philanthropic gestures. The governor and his wife have donated millions of dollars to several educational institutions. One of them is Northwestern University which received a gift of $100 million in October 2015.
Pritzker is also the chairman of an institution dedicated to teaching about the holocaust as well as other genocides in world history. Additionally, the governor is passionate about early care and education. He supports organisations which provide quality care and learning programs for kids starting from birth to the age of five.