T. Denny Sanford

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T. Denny Sanford
A bronze statue of a late middle-aged man holding up his hand at waist level.
Statue of Sanford in front of the Sanford USD Medical Center.
Born Thomas Denny Sanford
(1935-12-23) December 23, 1935 (age 79)
Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
Alma mater University of Minnesota
Occupation Owner and founder of First Premier Bank
Chief executive officer of United National Corp.
Salary In excess of US$1.0 million
Net worth US$1.4 billion (2012)[1]

Thomas Denny Sanford (born December 23, 1935 in Saint Paul)[2] is a South Dakota businessman and philanthropist. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of United National Corp.

Business ventures[edit]

Sanford made his fortune as the owner of First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard, both among the nation's leading credit card providers.[3] Premier Bankcard issues low-limit Mastercards and Visas to credit-impaired customers, charging higher-than-average interest rates and fees.[4] The typical customer stays only 18 months before graduating to a better rate. "We provide a lifeline for credit-impaired people," Sanford told Forbes magazine.[5]

The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is named for him.[6]


BusinessWeek magazine listed him as one of the top-50 most generous philanthropists in November 2006.[7]

On February 3, 2007, Sanford announced a $400 million gift to Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System, which renamed itself Sanford Health.[8] Sanford's total philanthropic gifts have exceeded $500 million, and are generally geared toward improving the quality of life for children.

Others receiving significant gifts include:

University of Minnesota[edit]

Sanford graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1958 with a degree in psychology. In 2003, Sanford and the University of Minnesota announced that Sanford would donate $35 million towards a proposed new football stadium for the Minnesota Gophers football team; a deal which would have given him full naming rights.[14] However, that deal fell through in late 2003 when the two parties were unable to reach an agreement on terms of the funding. Later in 2005, TCF Bank won the bid to receive naming rights for the new stadium.[15][16]

On May 21, 2009, the University of Minnesota accepted a $6 million donation to name the athletic hall of fame within TCF Bank Stadium in his honor. This donation was the final amount to close out the $86 million in private fundraising for the stadium.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sanford Not On Billionaires List". March 11, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ Lawrence, Tom (28 June 2006). "Sanford no stranger to giving in South Dakota". The Black Hills Pioneer (West River, South Dakota: Seaton Publishing). Retrieved January 17, 2009. Thomas Denny Sanford was born Dec. 23, 1935, in St. Paul, Minn. He has never gone by the name Thomas and prefers his middle name. 
  3. ^ "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. March 5, 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2008. 
  4. ^ Choi, Candice (December 17, 2009). "Credit card's newest trick: 79.9 percent interest". Associated Press. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ Whelan, David (September 22, 2007). "Dying Broke". Forbes. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ [1].
  7. ^ "The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists". BusinessWeek. Retrieved March 7, 2007. 
  8. ^ Hamilton, Lindsay (February 3, 2007). "Man Gives Away $400 Million to Hospitals". ABC News. Retrieved March 7, 2007. 
  9. ^ Post, Tim. "T. Denny Sanford gives $6 million for Gopher football stadium". MPR News. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  10. ^ http://sanfordlab.org
  11. ^ http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2002/
  12. ^ Leader, Argus (November 13, 2013). "Philanthropist's gift a big bang for stem cell research". USA Today. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  13. ^ Naylor, Jennifer. "Philanthropist pledges $10 million for Crazy Horse Memorial". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  14. ^ "T. Denny Sanford Press Conference Statement" (Press release). University of Minnesota. September 5, 2003. Retrieved March 7, 2007. 
  15. ^ Tibbetts, Than (March 23, 2005). "U may reveal stadium plan". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved March 7, 2007. [dead link]
  16. ^ "TCF Financial Corporation gives $35 million". University of Minnesota. March 24, 2005. Retrieved January 10, 2006. 
  17. ^ Post, Tim (May 21, 2009). "T. Denny Sanford gives $6 million for Gopher football stadium". Retrieved November 13, 2013. 

External links[edit]