With an estimated net worth of over $3 billion, it’s no wonder many of us are curious as to how the Illinois governor made his money.
J. B. Pritzker is a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, and thus earned a personal fortune that was passed down from the empire that his father and uncles created, mainly through the Hyatt Hotel chain. Growing up with money already in the family, Pritzker continued to make investments and became the Governor of Illinois in 2019.
As the heir to one of the largest hotel chains to have ever been established, what else has Pritzker done to earn himself the position of governor? What other business ventures has he taken on? Let’s take a look.
How The Pritzker Fortune Came To Be
The story of the Pritzker fortune goes way back to the 1800s. Everything started with Abraham Nicholas Pritzker, who was born in 1896 and later died in 1957 – he is considered the patriarch of the family enterprise.
Abraham was the son of Jewish immigrants, who migrated from Kiev to Chicago in the year 1881. He attended and graduated from Harvard Law School, which led to him joining the law firm owned by his father Nicholas.
There were two brothers of Abraham – Jack and Harry. These brothers were also a part of the law firm, but they left it in 1936 to pursue investments in real estate and other smaller businesses within Chicago.
After marrying to Fanny Dopelt, they had their sons Jay, Robert, and Donald. Jay and Robert went on to found the Marmon Group in 1953, which became a large American industrial holding company and massively contributed to their wealth.
Donald went to work for the Marmon Group in 1961 after graduating from law school, before he later helped develop the Hyatt Hotel empire that had been established by his brothers Jay and Robert in ‘57.
This led to its ultimate success, as Donald purchased a new hotel in Atalanta that had an unusual layout, which became the architectural blueprint for future Hyatts.
Now, this is where Jay Robert, or J. B. as he’s commonly known, comes in – he is the son of Donald Pritzker. J.B was instantly born into extreme wealth, along with many other cousins.
The family rests at 11 members who are billionaires, and many of them still have stakes in the publicly traded Hyatt Hotel chain.
Before Jay Pritzker died in 1999, he had set up some lump sum payments that would get paid to his family. Unfortunately, this led to an ugly dispute between his children and their cousins.
They later decided to settle the lawsuit, and each of the 11 members received around $1 billion each.
Entrepreneur, Investor and Philanthropist
Amidst the lawsuit drama happening among the Pritzker family, J. B. did well for himself and became an entrepreneur.
He became the chairman of ChicagoNEXT, and he also created a non-profit digital startup called 1871 in 2012. 1871 ultimately helps and supports entrepreneurs to build their businesses, like offering work space to more than 200 organizations, and partnering with other companies like UPS and Google For Entrepreneurs.
With his brother Tony, J. B. co-founded the Pitzker Group Private Capital – a business that owns and manages middle-market companies.
Forbes reports J. B. as the 250th richest American in 2019, with a net worth of $3.4 billion as of April 2020, and his “source of wealth” as “hotels, investments.”
Getting Into Politics
Pritzker served as Hillary Clinton’s co-chairman during her 2008 campaign, but he had previously run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinios’s 9th congressional district, where he spent around $500,000 on regional TV advertising.
In 2017, Pritzker wasn’t done quite yet. He announced that he would run for the Democratic Party to become the Governor of Illinois.
During his campaign, he spent a whopping $42 million from his own fortune.
At the end of the race, Pritzker ended up winning by over 20% compared to his opponents. The general election eventually showed that he had beat Republican Bruce Rauner at 54% to 39%.
On the 14th of January 2019, he was sworn into office as the 43rd Governor of Illinois. He shared a celebratory post on Instagram, stating in the description:
“I am honored and humbled to serve as the 43rd governor in Illinois history. I am excited to make Illinois a state that works for everyone.”
In December that same year, Pritzker reflected on his accomplishments, which you can watch below: