Joe Ricketts

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Joe Ricketts
Born John Joseph Ricketts
(1941-07-16) July 16, 1941 (age 74)
Nebraska City, Nebraska
Residence Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Alma mater Creighton University
Occupation Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, MLB Owner
Known for TD Ameritrade
Net worth $1 Billion[1]
Religion Roman Catholic[2]
Spouse(s) Marlene Ricketts (1963-present)
Children Laura Ricketts, Pete Ricketts, Todd Ricketts, Tom Ricketts
Website Personal website

John Joseph "Joe" Ricketts (born July 16, 1941) is an American businessman. He is the founder, former CEO and former chairman of TD Ameritrade, one of the largest online discount brokerages in the world, based in Omaha, Nebraska.[3] Ricketts owns and operates several early stage companies, including, The American Film Company, High Plains Bison, and The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch.

Early life[edit]

John Joseph Ricketts was born and raised in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and obtained a bachelor's degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in 1968.[4] Ricketts is married with four children, Thomas, Pete, Laura, and Todd, who were raised Roman Catholic.[2] In 2009, Ricketts ranked #371, according to Forbes magazine, of the 400 wealthiest Americans, with a net worth of $1 billion. He currently resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.[5]

TD Ameritrade[edit]

In 1975, John Joseph Ricketts and a few partners formed First Omaha Securities, a retail securities brokerage firm that through mergers and acquisitions grew into TD Ameritrade.[6] Ricketts retired from the TD Ameritrade board in October 2011 to concentrate on entrepreneurship and philanthropy.[7]

Business ventures[edit]

In 2004, John Joseph Ricketts founded High Plains Bison, a retailer of natural bison meat. In addition to online and offline sales channels, High Plains Bison is the official bison vendor at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.[8] Some of the bison are raised on a Wyoming ranch owned by Ricketts. A four-bedroom lodge named The Lodge at Jackson Fort Ranch is located on the same property.[9][10]

In 2008, John Joseph Ricketts founded The American Film Company, which produces feature films about true stories from American history.[11] The Conspirator is a 2010 historical drama film directed by Robert Redford. It served as the debut film of The American Film Company.[12][13]

In 2009, John Joseph Ricketts founded, a digital news service that currently covers neighborhood news in New York City and Chicago.[14][15]

Chicago Cubs baseball team[edit]

In October 2009, the Ricketts family acquired a 95 percent controlling interest in Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, as well as 20 percent of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. The Ricketts family represents the eighth ownership group in the 133-year history of the team. While Ricketts is not directly involved in the team’s operations, his son, Tom Ricketts, is Cubs chairman and his three other children (Pete, Laura and Todd) are on the board of directors.[16] In November 2010, the Cubs announced a plan to seek $200 million in state-backed bonds for renovations to Wrigley Field.[17]

Political activities[edit]

Ricketts co-founded the Campaign for Primary Accountability (CPA) with Eric O'Keefe, Leo Linbeck III, and Tim Dunn. It targets both Democratic and Republican incumbents in primary elections.[18]

In 2010, Ricketts led a campaign against earmarks and wasteful spending in the federal government.[19][20] Ricketts founded an independent organization called Taxpayers Against Earmarks that classified every Member of Congress as either a spending “hero” or “hooligan.”[21] The organization has been credited with convincing Members of Congress to adopt a moratorium on earmarks.[22][23] Taxpayers Against Earmarks changed its name to Ending Spending in 2011.[24]

Ricketts established and funded The Ending Spending Fund, a political action committee, in 2010.[25] The Ending Spending Fund spent over $1 million sponsoring independent advertisements in several Congressional races. The goal of the advertising expenditure was to highlight incumbents’ earmark-related policies.[26][27] The Ending Spending Fund spent the largest amount of its money on the United States Senate election in Nevada, 2010 in an effort to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Although not required by law, Ricketts willingly disclosed his identity due to his belief in transparency.[28]

Ricketts served on the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute from 1999 to 2007.[29] His son, Pete Ricketts, is a member of the Republican National Committee.[30] His daughter, Laura Ricketts, is a gay rights activist and prominent bundler for Barack Obama. [31] Another son, Todd Ricketts, was named CEO of Ending Spending in 2013.[32]

On May 17, 2012, The New York Times published a story by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg reporting that The Ending Spending Action fund had been presented with a 54-page proposal entitled, "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: the Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good." According to the Times, the proposal, written by a vendor seeking to be hired by Ending Spending, suggested a $10-million ad campaign to "attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away" and called for "running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright."[33] The report came to light when an unidentified person, who was not connected to the proposal, leaked it to The New York Times.[34] The president of the Ending Spending Action Fund said that the pitch was a "nonstarter"[35] and issued the following statement repudiating the proposal: "Not only was this plan merely a proposal — one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors — but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take."[36]

As of mid-2014, the Ending Spending SuperPac had supported only Republicans.[37]


John Joseph Ricketts established the Opportunity Education Foundation, which underwrites the costs of training teachers and students in the Third World. The foundation supports an educational initiative through Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, which trains teachers in East and West Africa.[38]

On September 26, 2013, Louisiana College president Joe W. Aguillard presented Ricketts and his brother, Jim, with two of three Trustees' Distinguished Service Awards at the annual Founder’s Day chapel. "The little help that we give is really absorbed and used a great deal. ... Let me thank you, Louisiana College, for having such an impact on the educational system in the Third World," said Joe Ricketts.[38]Jim Ricketts, the president and CEO of the foundation and the former vice-president of TD Ameritrade, said, "We're serving the poor in ways that have never been done before. ..."[38]


  1. ^ Forbes, Sept 2009
  2. ^ a b "Lesbian makes history as Cubs owner". Windy City Times. 2009-11-01. 
  3. ^ "Yahoo Finance: AMTD". Yahoo Finance. 
  4. ^ Highbeam, May 1999
  5. ^ Forbes, Sept 2009
  6. ^ Forbes, July 1999
  7. ^ Reuters, Sept 2011
  8. ^, May 2010
  9. ^
  10. ^, June 2009
  11. ^ New York Times, April 2011
  12. ^ Wall Street Journal, Speakeasy, Sept 2010
  13. ^ New York Times ArtsBeat, Sept 2010
  14. ^ Crains New York, Dec 2010
  15. ^ NY Observer, May 2010
  16. ^ "Ricketts Family Assumes Control of Chicago Cubs". 2009-10-30. 
  17. ^ "ricketts-no-plan-b-if-state-wont-back-wrigley-bonds". Dead link at, November 2010.
  18. ^ "Where Irish American Eric O'Keefe treads, incumbent politicians tremble". Irish Central LLC. April 12, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  19. ^ Politico, Sept 2010
  20. ^ Politico, Nov 2010
  21. ^ NYTimes The Caucus, Sept 2010
  22. ^ Politico, Dec 2010
  23. ^ Bluey, Rob, "How conservatives beat the establishment on earmarks",, 11/16/2010.
  24. ^, July 2011
  25. ^, Nov 2010
  26. ^, Nov 2010
  27. ^ Gibson, Jake, "New TV ad by 'The Ending Spending Fund' Targets Reid over Earmarks",, October 28, 2010.
  28. ^ Terkel, Amanda (2010-10-22). "The One-Person Funded Super PAC: How Wealthy Donors Can Skirt Campaign Finance Restrictions". Huffington Post. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Saletan, William, "The Wrath of Cons, A proposed super-PAC assault on Obama exposes the right’s rage", Slate, 17 May 2012.
  31. ^ Blake, Aaron, and Sandhya Somashekhar, "Joe Ricketts, a wealthy donor, getting attention in presidential contest", Washington Post, May 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  32. ^ Sullivan, Sean (10 April 2014). "Meet the super PAC both Republicans and Democrats should fear". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  33. ^ Mak, Tim (2012-05-18). "Ricketts’ aide: Jeremiah Wright plan was DOA". Politico. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  34. ^ Zeleny, Jeff; Jim Rutenberg (2012-05-17). "G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  35. ^ Mak, Tim (2012-05-18). "Ricketts’ aide: Jeremiah Wright plan was DOA". Politico. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  36. ^ Burns, Alexander (2012-05-17). "Ricketts flack says Wright attack plan has been rejected". Politico. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  37. ^ Overby, Peter (September 1, 2014). "A Political Family, Funding And Running On Both Sides Of The Aisle". NPR. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  38. ^ a b c "Lee Guidry, Louisiana College honors 3 for distinguished service, September 26, 2013". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved September 27, 2013.

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