Jack Cowin

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Jack Cowin
Born (1942-07-13) 13 July 1942 (age 80)
Alma materUniversity of Western Ontario
  • Entrepreneur
  • Executive Chairman
Known forFounder of Hungry Jack's
OfficeChancellor of the University of Western Ontario
Term22 October 2015 (2015-10-22)–23 May 2019 (2019-05-23)
SuccessorLinda Hasenfratz
Board member of
SpouseSharon Cowin

Jack Cowin (/ˈkɪn/, born 13 July 1942) is a Canadian-Australian businessman and entrepreneur with a long-term involvement in franchised fast food chains in Australia and Canada. Cowin brought KFC to Australia, founded and owns Hungry Jack's, which is the Burger King franchise in Australia,[1] and has at various stages controlled the Domino's Pizza franchise in Australia prior to its 2005 listing on the ASX.

Cowin also has an ownership stake in the Lone Star Texas Grill restaurant chain in Canada, with upstream Australian investments in cattle stations and food processing.[2] Cowin is the Executive Chairman of Competitive Foods Australia, one of Australia's largest privately held businesses.[3] Cowin has also been an investor in Australia's Ten Network, serving as a non-executive director.[2][4]

Cowin served as the Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario from 2015 until 2019.

Early life[edit]

Cowin was born on 13 July 1942[4] in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. His father, Stanley J. Cowin, was posted to Australia briefly by Ford and later encouraged his son to consider emigrating there.[1] Cowin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario in 1964.[4][5]


Cowin became an insurance salesman with London Life for four years in Toronto before deciding to visit Australia to assess some business opportunities. Seeing long queues at a Chinese takeaway restaurant while vacationing in Sydney, he became convinced that fast food would sell well. Aged 26 years, Cowin returned to Australia to evaluate expanding Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) into the market that at that stage had limited fast food options.[4]

He bought the right to open ten KFC franchises in Western Australia, raised CA$10,000 each from thirty Canadians to launch the business in December 1969,[2] having moved with his wife and young child. As of March 2006, those initial investors had an investment worth approximately A$8.9 million.[citation needed] After opening eight KFC outlets, he bought the rights to Burger King.[6]

Cowin later discovered someone else had the rights to the Burger King trademark in Australia, so Cowin instead called the outlets Hungry Jack's. Many years later he had a falling out with Burger King over the name and other issues related to their franchise agreement which was eventually resolved in his favour. He talks about this in an interview[6] for The Billion Dollar Secret book to which Cowin contributed.[7]

In 1999 Cowin took action against Burger King Corp. in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Cowin alleged that Burger King attempted to terminate Hungry Jack's contract on the grounds that the Australian franchisee was not opening new units as fast as was required under the agreement. In response, Cowin's Hungry Jack's sued Burger King for breach of contract, alleging that the chain had no legal grounds for terminating the contract.[8]

The NSW Supreme Court ordered Burger King Corp. to pay A$45 million to Hungry Jack's Ltd. for lost profits from delayed restaurant openings, inability to sell third-party franchises, and cannibalization by the chain's corporate-owned locations. Burger King appealed the matter to the New South Wales Court of Appeal, and on 21 June 2001, the appeal was dismissed and Burger King Corp. was ordered to pay Hungry Jack's A$71 million in damages.[8]

The business Competitive Foods Australia continues to be privately held by his family, with an estimated value of $350 million.[when?] In 2017, Cowin advocated for the elimination of weekend worker penalty rates within Australia, regarding them as a "thing of the past".[9]

Cowin also owns Consolidated Foods, a meat processing business that exports throughout the world.[10] Cowin sold a substantial investment in Stanbroke Pastoral Company, one of the country's biggest cattle station operators. Cowin is also an investor in the Lone Star Texas Grill restaurant chain in Canada.[4] Cowin in a major shareholder in RCX (Rail Crew Express), a US transportation company based in Kansas that operates 1,000 vehicles as a crew hauling service to the major railway operators.[4]

Cowin has served as a non-executive director of the TEN Television Network, Chandler MacLeod, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, and Fairfax Media.[5] He is the Chairman and largest shareholder of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises. He also is a Director and 40% shareholder of BridgeClimb Sydney - operator of a major Sydney tourist attraction.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Cowin lives in Sydney with his wife, Sharon,[5] with whom he has had four children.[11]

In 2000, his alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, conferred Cowin with the award of Doctor of Law (honoris causa).[4] Cowin served as the 22nd Chancellor of the University from September 2015[12] until May 2019.[13] He gifted funds to the University to pay for stands for the new football field, that was named in honour of his father, Stanley J. Cowin.

Cowin is an active member of the World Presidents Organization.

Net worth[edit]

Cowin was listed on the Australian BRW Rich 200 list at number 70 in 2008,[14] and 79 in 2009, and had an estimated net worth of A$486 million[citation needed] and, in 2010, an estimated net worth of A$538 million.[15] Cowin was ascribed a net worth of A$1.8 billion (24th) in the 2016 BRW Rich 200.[16]

In 2021 the Financial Review Rich List, the successor of the BRW Rich 200, assessed Cowin's net worth at A$4.94 billion; and was ranked as the 17th richest Australian.[17] Meanwhile, Forbes Asia assessed Cowin's net worth as US$1.7 billion in 2019; and he was ranked as the 23rd richest Australian by net worth.[18]

Year Financial Review
Rich List
Australia's 50 Richest
Rank Net worth (A$) Rank Net worth (US$)
2015[19] 29 Increase $1.00 billion Increase
2016[16][20] 24 $1.80 billion 18 Increase $1.50 billion Increase
2017[21][22] 20 Decrease $2.38 billion Increase 22 Decrease
2018[23][24] 24 Decrease $2.41 billion Increase
2019[25][18] 25 Decrease $2.79 billion Increase 23 Decrease $1.70 billion Increase
2020[26] 17 Increase $4.51 billion Increase
2021[17] 17 Steady $4.94 billion Increase
Icon Description
Steady Has not changed from the previous year
Increase Has increased from the previous year
Decrease Has decreased from the previous year

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Story of a shattered life: A single childhood incident pushed Dawn Crey into a downward spiral | Vancouver Sun". 24 November 2001.
  2. ^ a b c Olijnyk, Zena (5 December 2005). "Jack Cowin — The Burger King". Canadian Business Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Profile: Jack Cowin". Forbes. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "CACC Patron: Mr. Jack Cowin". Canadian Australian Chamber of Commerce. n.d. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Jack Cowin, BA'64, LLD'00". Extraordinary Alumni. University of Western Ontario. 2020. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  6. ^ a b Cowin, Jack (11 June 2019). "Control Your Destiny - BILLIONAIRE Jack Cowin in Interview - "The Billion Dollar Secret" Book Launch". D.tube (Interview). Interviewed by billionairepal. Archived from the original (Streaming video) on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2020. {{cite interview}}: Check |url= value (help)
  7. ^ Badziag, Rafael. "The Billion Dollar Secret – 20 Principles of Billionaire Wealth and Success".
  8. ^ a b Ellinghaus, M. P. (2005). Australian Cases on Contract (6th ed.). Melbourne: Code Press. pp. 610–619. ISBN 978-0-9577941-5-3.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Sue (17 December 2015). "'Hungry' Jack Cowin's solution to penalty rate stand-off". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Sue (17 December 2015). "'Hungry' Jack Cowin's recipe for success". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  11. ^ Cowin, Jack; Ross, Julia; Cave, Paul; May, Don (15 May 2005). "The father of fast food". Business Sunday (Interview). Interviewed by Katrina Nicholas. Australia: NineMSN. Archived from the original (transcript) on 26 February 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2020. Personally I've been married for thirty nine years and my wife still talks to me. You know, people find that somewhat surprising probably. So that, raising four children, that's a challenge, business wise I think it is probably competing against big companies that have a different philosophy.
  12. ^ Zollino, Olivia (10 September 2015). "Western names Jack Cowin as 22nd chancellor". The Gazette. Archived from the original on 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  13. ^ Department of Communications and Public Affairs (23 May 2019). "Linda Hasenfratz named Western's 23rd Chancellor" (Press release). University of Western Ontario. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Jack sells back Barossa corker". www.dailytelegraph.com.au. 3 September 2008.
  15. ^ "Sundae, bloody sundae". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Retailers named on 2016 BRW Rich 200 list - Inside Retail". Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b Bailey, Michael; Sprague, Julie-anne (27 May 2021). "The 200 richest people in Australia revealed". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  18. ^ a b "2019 Australia's 50 Richest". Forbes Asia. January 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  19. ^ "2015 Australia's 50 Richest". Forbes Asia. March 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Gina Rinehart Loses Her No. 1 Spot". Forbes Asia. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  21. ^ Stensholt, John, ed. (25 May 2017). "Financial Review Rich List 2017". The Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  22. ^ Mayne, Stephen (26 May 2017). "Mayne's take: The top 25 Australian billionaires, as claimed by Fairfax". Crikey. Private Media. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  23. ^ Stensholt, John, ed. (25 May 2018). "2018 AFR Rich List: Who are Australia's richest people?". The Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  24. ^ "Australia's Richest 2017: Country's Wealthiest Continue Mining For Dollars". Forbes Asia. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  25. ^ Bailey, Michael (30 May 2019). "Australia's 200 richest people revealed". The Australian Financial Review. Nine Publishing. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  26. ^ Bailey, Michael; Sprague, Julie-anne (30 October 2020). "The full list: Australia's wealthiest 200 revealed". The Australian Financial Review. Nine Publishing. Retrieved 31 October 2020.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario
Succeeded by