J. B. Pritzker

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J. B. Pritzker
J.B. Pritzker Chicago Hack Night 53 (cropped).png
Pritzker in July 2017
Born Jay Robert Pritzker
(1965-01-19) January 19, 1965 (age 53)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Residence Gold Coast, Chicago[1]
Education Duke University (BA)
Northwestern University (JD)
Net worth US$3.5 billion (Jan. 2018)[2]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Muenster
Children 2
Relatives Donald Pritzker (father)
Penny Pritzker (sister)
Anthony Pritzker (brother)
Website Campaign website

Jay Robert "J. B." Pritzker (born January 19, 1965) is an American venture capitalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and politician. He is a private business owner based in Chicago and a managing partner and co-founder of the Pritzker Group. He is a member of the Pritzker family who own the Hyatt Hotel chain, and has an estimated personal net worth of $3.5 billion.[3]

He is the Democratic Party's nominee for Governor of Illinois in the 2018 election.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

J. B. Pritzker was born into a Jewish family prominent in business and philanthropy during the late 20th century. The Pritzkers are one of the wealthiest families in the United States, being near the top of Forbes magazine's "America's Richest Families" list since the magazine began listings in 1982.[5] One of three children of Sue (née Sandel) and Donald Pritzker,[6][7] Pritzker had his Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Am.[8] He attended Massachusetts boarding school Milton Academy and then graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Pritzker went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University School of Law. He is an attorney and a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and Chicago Bar Association.


Pritzker served as Chairman of ChicagoNEXT,[9] Mayor Rahm Emanuel's council on innovation and technology, and he founded 1871,[10] (named for the year of the Great Fire of Chicago), Chicago's digital startup center. He played an important role in the creation of the Illinois Venture Capital Association and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. He also co-founded Chicago Ventures and funded the startup of Techstars Chicago and Built in Chicago.[11]

Together with his brother Tony, J. B. Pritzker co-founded Pritzker Group Private Capital, which owns and operates middle-market companies. The group includes a growing family of companies including pallet rental leader PECO Pallet and medical device maker Clinical Innovations. In 2008, Pritzker received the Entrepreneurial Champion Award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce for his efforts to promote economic development and job creation.[12][13]

Political activities[edit]

In the 2008 Presidential election, Pritzker served as national co-chairman of the Hillary Clinton for President campaign and as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He supported President Barack Obama in the 2008 general election and helped bring the Clinton and Obama campaigns in Illinois together.[14]

Pritzker founded Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century,[15] a national organization dedicated to attracting voters under the age of 40 to the Democratic Party. He also served on the Washington DC legislative staffs of U.S. Senator Terry Sanford (D-NC), U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), for whom he handled multiple domestic and international issues.

In 1998, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois's 9th congressional district, spending a half million dollars from his personal fortune on television ads in the Chicago market.[16] Pritzker finished last among three candidates in the Democratic primary, receiving 20.48% of the vote, to then State Representative Jan Schakowsky's 45.14% and State Senator Howard W. Carroll's 34.40%.[17]

2018 Illinois gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Campaign logo

On April 6, 2017, Pritzker announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois. His campaign has received the endorsements of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, former Illinois Congressman Glenn Poshard, more than a dozen members of the Illinois General Assembly, twenty-one local labor unions and the Illinois AFL-CIO.[18]

On August 10, 2017, Pritzker announced that his running mate will be State Representative Juliana Stratton.[19] By December 2017, Pritzker had spent $42 million of his own wealth on his campaign, without significant fundraising from any other source.[20] On March 20, 2018, he won the Democratic nomination for Governor. He will be running against current Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner.

Political positions[edit]

LGBT rights[edit]

Pritzker has been a long time advocate of LGBT rights and has actively participated in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade.[21][22] As part of his 2018 gubernatorial race, Pritzker has stated that his administration will address anti-LGBT hate crimes, expanding LGBT access to healthcare, and oppose anti-LGBT legislation.[23]


Pritzker is a supporter of marijuana legalization.[24][25][26]

Abortion and reproductive rights[edit]

Pritzker is a supporter of reproductive rights and access to abortion facilities.[27] During the 2018 gubernatorial Democratic primaries, Planned Parenthood supported Pritzker along with Kennedy and Biss.[28]

Net neutrality[edit]

Pritzker is a supporter of net neutrality and has stated on his gubernatorial campaign website that, "As governor, I will ensure that all internet traffic is treated equally so that everyone can continue to use the internet to grow their businesses, further their education, and enjoy the freedom of expression."[29]


Rod Blagojevich FBI wiretap[edit]

In May 2017, the Chicago Tribune[30] published an 11-minute FBI wiretap of J. B. Pritzker and then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 discussing campaign contributions and options for Pritzker to be appointed to statewide office.[31] At the time, Pritzker was described as a "businessman with political ambitions." On the tapes, Blagojevich asked Pritzker if he would like to be appointed state treasurer, to which Pritzker responded, "Yeah, that's the one I would want." The tapes have raised questions of "pay to play politics," with both Republicans and Democrats, including incumbent GOP Governor Bruce Rauner and Pritzker's Democratic primary opponents, taking issue with Pritzker's conduct.[32] Pritzker has responded to the allegations by stating that "I’ve not been accused of any wrongdoing. I have not done anything wrong."[33] No allegations of wrongdoing were ever made by law enforcement against Pritzker, and Pritzker has said, "over decades of my life, I have been doing public service, and the opportunity to continue to do public service as treasurer of the state was something that had been brought up, and so there was a conversation about that."[34]

Property tax reduction[edit]

The Chicago Sun-Times[35] reported that Pritzker allowed the mansion he purchased next door to his multi-million dollar home go into disrepair so that he could then appeal his original property tax assessment. Saying that the new home was "uninhabitable," the Cook County assessor agreed and reduced the home's value from $6.25 million to about $1.1 million, which gave Pritzker a savings of 83% on his property tax, or a savings of about $230,000.[36]

Personal life[edit]

In 1993, he married Mary Kathryn "M. K." Muenster of South Dakota, whom he had met in Washington, D.C., when she worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota.[37] She is one of three children of Theodore and Karen Muenster. Her father unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990.[38] They live in Chicago with their two children.[2]

Pritzker has two elder siblings: Penny Pritzker, who served as 38th United States Secretary of Commerce, and Anthony Pritzker.


As president of the Pritzker Family Foundation, he funds research and programs focused on children in poverty. Under the leadership of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, he supported the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago.[39][non-primary source needed] Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Irving Harris Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Pritzker Family Foundation is a founding supporter of the First Five Years Fund, an organization focusing nationwide attention and resources on comprehensive, quality early care and learning programs for children from birth to age five.[40] In 2013, Pritzker teamed with Goldman Sachs to fund the first ever social impact bond for early childhood education.[41]

As chairman of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in 2009, Pritzker successfully led the capital campaign and planning to build an international institution in the Midwest dedicated to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides.[42] Pritzker is the principal funder of Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, the most significant online source for news and commentaries regarding the international criminal tribunal created to bring to justice the perpetrators of Pol Pot era acts of genocide. He served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and was succeeded by former White House counsel and Federal Judge Abner J. Mikva.[43] In 2013, Pritzker received the Survivors' Legacy Award for his leadership in the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.[44]

In 2007, Pritzker and his wife donated $5 million to the University of South Dakota to build the Theodore R. and Karen K. Muenster University Center in honor of his wife's parents.[45] In 2011, Milton Academy dedicated the Pritzker Science Center for which Pritzker provided the lead gift. Pritzker is a trustee and serves on the investment committee of Northwestern University and is a member of the Board of Governors of Northwestern University School of Law. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.

On October 22, 2015, Northwestern University School of Law announced that J. B. Pritzker and his wife, M. K. Pritzker, had made a $100 million gift to the law school in honor of Pritzker's great-grandfather, Nicholas J. Pritzker. The 156-year-old school became named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.[46]

He received the Spirit of Erikson Institute Award for his creation of the Children's Initiative.[47]

The Better Government Association, an Illinois watchdog, has criticized Pritzker's charitable giving practices, saying he funneled the funds offshore tax havens. "The result is that Pritzker’s philanthropy, and any accolades that go with it, have been bankrolled with what is essentially found money. He did little to earn the proceeds and paid no taxes on the bulk of it before giving it away," the BGA article states.[48]


  1. ^ "How Many Homes Do the Candidates for Illinois Governor Own?". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  2. ^ a b Forbes: "The World's Billionaires - Jay Robert (J.B.) Pritzker" Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  3. ^ "Jay Robert (J.B.) Pritzker". Forbes. 
  4. ^ Pearson, Rick. "J.B. Pritzker joins Illinois governor race, facing big Democratic field to take on Rauner". chicagotribune.com. 
  5. ^ "Pritzker family". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Chicago Tribune: "Mishap kills Sue Pritzker, widow of Hyatt Hotel founder, at age 49" May 8, 1982
  7. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Rooms With a View : Chance Encounter Led to Creation of Rapidly Expanding Hyatt Hotels Chain' by NANCY RIVERA BROOKS November 24, 1987
  8. ^ Castle, George (June 28, 2017). "The Pritzker family is one of the most prominent in Chicago's Jewish community. An exclusive interview with J. B. Pritzker, who wants to be the next Governor of Illinois." Chicago Jewish News. Retrieved February 10, 2018. 
  9. ^ "Chicago creates council to attract tech jobs". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2017-09-24. 
  10. ^ "1871 tech hub for startups, 1871 at Merchandise Mart". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2017-09-24. 
  11. ^ "2014 big ideas: J.B. Pritzker, co-founder, Pritzker Group". Blue Sky Innovation. 
  12. ^ Scott Issen. "J.B. Pritzker Honored as Entrepreneurial Champion; SAVO Receives 2008 Merrick Momentum Award to Recognize Business Success and Growth Potential". Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center - Official website. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  13. ^ "Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce BOARD MEETING MINUTES" (PDF). 25 October 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2018. 
  14. ^ Dan Morain (2008-08-25). "J.B. Pritzker and Penny Pritzker end their Clinton-Obama rift". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  15. ^ Gwen Ifill (1991-10-14). "Seeking Electoral Edge, Parties Court the Young". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  16. ^ "Pritzker Pumps $500,000 Into Tv Ads", Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1998. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  17. ^ "Official Final Results", Cook County Clerk. p. 2. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  18. ^ Garcia, Rick Pearson, Monique. "Illinois labor group endorses Pritzker, cementing Democratic front-runner status". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-06-07. 
  19. ^ Pearson, Rick. "Pritzker announces state Rep. Stratton as running mate", Chicago Tribune, August 10, 2017. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  20. ^ McDermott, Kevin (11 Jan 2018). "'Moneyball' : The 2018 Illinois Governor's Race". NPR Illinois. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  21. ^ Lewis, Sean (4 June 2018). "Politicians show support for LGBTQ community as Pride Month kicks off". WGN-TV. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  22. ^ Pearson, Rick. "Pritzker says he'll lead Illinois as resistance state to Trump". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  23. ^ "JB's Commitment to LGBTQ Rights - JB Pritzker for Governor". JB Pritzker for Governor. 23 January 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  24. ^ Henderson, Catherine. "J.B. Pritzker highlights push for legalization of marijuana on 4/20". dailynorthwestern.com. 
  25. ^ "Pritzker betting the pot on legalizing marijuana in governor's race". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  26. ^ Janssen, Kim. "Top 3 Illinois Dem gubernatorial candidates agree: We all smoked pot back in the day". chicagotribune.com. 
  27. ^ "JB's Commitment to Women's Rights - JB Pritzker for Governor". JB Pritzker for Governor. 16 March 2018. 
  28. ^ http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20180125/BLOGS02/180129935/abortion-rights-groups-split-on-guv-race-but-why.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "JB's Priorities for Protecting Net Neutrality - JB Pritzker for Governor". JB Pritzker for Governor. 30 April 2018. 
  30. ^ Lightly, Todd; Coen, Jeff; Heizmann, David (May 31, 2017). "J.B. Pritzker sought political office from Blagojevich, 2008 FBI wiretaps show". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 27, 2018. 
  31. ^ Heinzmann, Todd Lighty, Jeff Coen, David. "J.B. Pritzker sought political office from Blagojevich, 2008 FBI wiretaps show". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  32. ^ "Rauner plans to air entire Blagojevich-Pritzker wiretap". ABC7 Chicago. 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  33. ^ Geiger, Rick Pearson, Kim. "Pritzker bears brunt of attacks at Democratic governor forum over property tax breaks, Blagojevich wiretaps". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  34. ^ Brown, Mark (May 31, 2017). "Blago wiretaps show Pritzker looking for political appointment". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 27, 2018. 
  35. ^ "For J.B. Pritzker, mansion's disrepair has saved $230K in taxes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2018-06-06. 
  36. ^ "GOP rips Pritzker for getting $230K property tax reduction". WQAD.com. 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2018-06-06. 
  37. ^ Chicago Tribune: "The Long Run - After His First Date With Politics, J.b. Pritzker Is Ready To Make A Commitment" By Rick Kogan May 24, 1998
  38. ^ Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan: "New USD Student Center Officially Dedicated" By David Lias May 16, 2009
  39. ^ "Pritzker". JB Pritzker Biographical Website. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  40. ^ "Philanthropic Partners". The First Five Years Fund - Official website. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  41. ^ William Alden (June 12, 2013). "Goldman Sachs to Finance Early Education Program Philanthropic Partners". New York Times DealBook. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  42. ^ Jane Charney (21 April 2009). "New Illinois Holocaust museum emphasizes lessons for future". JTA - Jewish & Israel News. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  43. ^ "Gov. Blagojevich appoints Judge Abner Mikva Chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission: Former judge to replace outgoing J.B. Pritzker". Illinois Government News Network. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  44. ^ Shia Kapos (March 7, 2013). "Brodsky, Rice, Pritzker feted by Holocaust museum". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  45. ^ University of South Dakota: "J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation Provides Generous Gift to The U for Construction of Muenster University Center" October 12, 2007
  46. ^ Hilary Hurd Anyaso (22 October 2015). "Pritzker Family Makes Unprecedented Gift to Northwestern Law". Northwestern Newscenter. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  47. ^ Pat Nedeau. "500 Guests Helped Erikson Institute Celebration 40th Anniversary at Prism Ball: Black-tie affair honoring J.B. Pritzker raised a record $1.1 million". Erikson Institute - Official website. Retrieved 2009-11-30. [dead link]
  48. ^ Neubauer, Chuck; Bergo, Sandy (7 February 2018). "Pritzker's Storied Charity Costs Him Little But Taxpayers A Lot". Better Government Association. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 

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