West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who is expected to announce that he’s switching from the Democratic to Republican Party, is a billionaire who made his fortune in coal and farming.
The New York Times is reporting that Justice, who won as a Democrat last year despite Trump overwhelmingly carrying West Virginia, is expected to switch parties at a rally alongside Trump on August 3 in Huntington, West Virginia.
What’s Jim Justice’s net worth?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Justice Is Worth More Than $1.5 Billion
There’s no question that Justice is extremely wealthy. In fact, Forbes Magazine estimates his net worth at $1.59 billion as of August 2017. His full name is James Conley “Jim” Justice II.
Forbes quoted him as saying, “I got plenty of money to just hang out and do what I want to do. But I don’t think that’s what the good Lord put me here to do. I’m supposed to do something here. And if I don’t, I don’t think God above is going to be happy with me.”
Justice is the richest person in West Virginia. Celebrity Net Worth puts his net worth at almost $1.7 billion.
2. Justice Owns Coal Mines & Resorts but Got His Start in Farming
According to NPR, Justice is a “resort and coal mine owner.”
Justice is “a West Virginia native who makes his money from corn, timber and coal,” reports The Washington Post.
According to The West Virginia Encyclopedia, Jim Justice was “born April 27, 1951, in Charleston to James Conley Justice and Edna Ruth Perry Justice. He grew up in Raleigh County and attended the University of Tennessee, later transferring to Marshall University where he received his bachelor and master’s degrees.”
Justice got his start in business after graduating from college.
“Justice became involved in the family business. In 1977, he started Bluestone Farms, an operation that grew to more than 50,000 acres in four states and is the largest grain producer on the East Coast,” the site reports.
Justice’s website says that Justice “graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1969, attended Greenbrier Military Academy as a post graduate. Governor Justice went to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and was captain of the golf team for two years before earning his undergraduate degree and a Masters in Business Administration.”
The Governor “joined his family’s business in 1976. Because of his strong interest in nature and the outdoors, he started Justice Family Farms in 1977 in beautiful Monroe County, West Virginia,” the bio says.
Today, Justice is “the largest farmer east of the Mississippi River,” the bio reports. “He is a long-time member of the National Corn Growers Association and a seven-time national corn growing champion. Jim, a passionate sportsman himself, developed Stoney Brook Plantation, a 15,000-acre hunting and fishing preserve in Monroe County, West Virginia. In 2016 Jim and his great bird dog companion, Lilly, bagged 73 grouse in our Mountain State.”
3. Justice Is Credited With Saving a Historic Resort Named Greenbrier
Justice is well known for his role in rescuing a prominent resort in West Virginia.
“Justice is celebrated in West Virginia for saving the historic and luxurious Greenbrier Resort, a major economic driver for the surrounding region,” reported NPR, which added that he owns coal mines throughout West Virginia and Appalachia, but they “have a history of safety violations.”
In an op-ed, Justice told voters he “turned The Greenbrier right side up and created new jobs by bringing the PGA Tour to West Virginia, the New Orleans Saints training camp to the state, the NBA, world-class concerts, and many other ventures that the ‘experts’ said were impossible.”
The Post described the Greenbrier as a “sprawling, 710-room, white-lace-and-petits-fours icon of American history.”
3. Justice Touted His Business Experience on the Campaign Trail
Justice argued to voters that he was best equipped to deal with the state’s budget issues because of his business acumen.
“I am not a career politician; I am a career businessman,” he wrote in an op-ed that ran in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “I’ve stepped up to take on tough projects and turned them around. I rescued The Greenbrier from bankruptcy when it was bleeding $1 million a week for 38 consecutive weeks. The Greenbrier faced an uphill slog, and it wasn’t an easy fix, but now it is thriving.”
He noted: “Similarly, the coal business is facing tough times. I’ve reopened coal mines that other companies walked away from and that folks thought would stay closed forever. I did it by bringing the right people together, making smart investments and cutting the dead weight.”
4. Justice Has Expanded Into Many Different Businesses & Once Sold His Coal Mines to a Russian Company
It’s not hard to see why Trump and Justice might get along. Both are wealthy entrepreneurs who have developed hotels. However, coal has played an important role in Justice’s business growth.
“After the death of his father in 1993, Justice became the president of Bluestone Industries and Bluestone Coal Corporation,” West Virginia Encyclopedia reports.
“Bluestone, now known as the Justice Companies, also oversees farmland in multiple southern states,” reports Celebrity Net Worth. A 2012 profile in the Register-Herald reported that Justice was one of the world’s richest people and noted “the re-branded Justice Companies maintains coal operations in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and active farmland in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and South Carolina.”
However, he’s diversified his holdings.
“Over the next 15 years, the Justice operations expanded to include numerous businesses, including Christmas tree farms, cotton gins, turf grass operations, and golf courses. In 2009, Justice sold the family’s coal operations in West Virginia to Mechel, a Russian company, and in 2015 bought the operations back for about a penny on the dollar,” according to the encyclopedia.
5. Justice Volunteers as a Coach & Is Married With Two Children
When he’s not running his businesses and the state of West Virginia, Justice can be found on sporting fields.
“He coaches both the girl’s and boy’s local high school basketball teams” in his West Virginia community, according to Celebrity Net Worth. “He has coached basketball teams of all ages for the past 36 years and is currently the head girls and boys basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV,” his bio says.
He’s married to Cathy Justice, and they have two children, Jill and Jay. Best friends since high school, according to Justice’s bio, he and Cathy have been married for more than 40 years.
Their children are “James (Jay) C. Justice, III, a Virginia Tech graduate who runs the Justice family’s coal and agriculture operations, and Dr. Jill Justice, a graduate of Marshall University and The Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. Jill is now president of Greenbrier Hotel Corporation and practices at the Greenbrier Clinic,” the bio says. Both Justice children are married.