J.B. Pritzker is running for Illinois Governor this year, funding his campaign mostly out of his own pocket. He’s worth $3.5 billion, is the 5th riches person in Illinois, and so far has spent $49.2 million on his campaign. Governor Bruce Rauner is also spending millions on his campaign, making the race already one of the most expensive governor races in history, with November still months away. Pritzker’s family is one of the wealthiest in the United States, with most of their money coming from hotels, though Pritzker has also made significant money investing in technology startups.
Here’s everything you need to know:
1.He’s Worth $3.5 Billion, Much of it From Investing in Tech
J.B. Pritzker is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, according to Forbes. He founded Pritzker Group Venture Capital in 1996. The firm invests in enterprise software and e-commerce services, as well as emerging technology companies. Since it’s founding, the firm has invested in more than 100 companies, including SinglePlatform, which was acquired by Constant Contact, Playdom, which was acquired by Disney, and TicketsNow, which was acquired by Ticketmaster.
Pritzker Group Private Capital, which he founded with his brother Tony, focuses on middle market companies. Entertainment Cruises, LBP, PathGroup, and Technimark are a few of the companies in the group’s portfolio. The firm was an investor in Dollar Shave Club, which sold to Unilever for $1 billion in 2016, and also has stake in SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration company.
As of December 2017, Pritzker had spent $42 million of his own wealth on his campaign for governor of Illinois, an unusually high amount for a governor’s race.
2. His Uncle Founded Hyatt Hotels, Establishing a Fortune for the Family
Pritzker’s uncle, Jay Pritzker, founded Hyatt Hotels and his father, Donald Pritzker, managed and developed the chain. The Pritzker family also owned the manufacturing and industrial company conglomeration Marmon Group, which was sold to Berkshire Hathaway.
When Jay Pritzker died in 1999, the family split up his wealth and J.B. Pritzker, along with 10 other family members, received $1.4 billion.
3. He has Used His Wealth for Good Around Chicago
Pritzker is president of the J.B. and M.K Pritzker Family Foundation, which is focused on early childhood development, community healthcare, and civil and human rights issues. The Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago researches data on early childhood development, then works to bring results to policy makers to promote public investment in early childhood programs. The J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation is a supporter of the First Five Years Fund, which provides learning resources to children under age five.
Pritzker led the funding campaign for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. He served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and funded the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, a news source about the international criminal tribunal on the Pol Pot regime.
In 2015, Pritzker and his wife made a $100 million gift to Northwestern University School of Law in honor of Nicholas J. Pritzker, Pritzker’s great grandfather. In 2007, they gave $5 million to the University of South Dakota for the Theodore R. and Karen K. Muenster University Center, built in honor of M.K. Pritzker’s parents. In 2011, they donated to the Milton Academy for the Pritzker Science Center.
In 2008, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce awarded Pritzker the Entrepreneurial Champion Award for his job creation and economic development work.
4. Eight of His Family Members are on Forbes’ 400 Richest People in America List
Since Forbes’ ‘America’s Richest Family’ list started in 1982, they Pritzker family has been near the top. In 2017, eight Pritzker family members made the “Forbes 400 Richest People In America” list. Karen Pritzker, the highest ranking family member, is number 132 on the list and worth $4.8 billion. She invests most of her wealth in Hyatt and Apple, Inc., and in her venture fund LaunchCapital, LLC.
Thomas Pritzker, son of Jay Pritzker who founded Hyatt, is number 200 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $4 billion. He manages The Pritzker Organization and is chairman of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
J.B. Pritzker and his brother Anthony are tied at number 219, with $3.5 billion.
Jean Pritzker is number 302, Penny Pritzker is number 315, John Pritzker is number 340, and Daniel Pritzker is number 359. All of them are worth more than $2 billion.
5. The Pritzker Family has Research Centers, Schools, and Famous Tourist Attractions Around Chicago Named After Them
The Pritzker family has donated or endowed large sums to numerous Chicago educational institutions. They include the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, the Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University, the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern University, the Pritzker Institute of Biomedial Science and Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Pritzker College Prep, the Pritzker Traubert Family Library at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and the A.N. Pritzker Elementary School.
The family’s cultural or recreational legacy includes the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, The Pritzker Architecture Prize, the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo at the Lincoln Park Zoo, The Pritzker Galleries of Impressionism and Post-Impressionalism at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.
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