Meet Marian Ilitch. You’ve probably never heard her name before, but at 84 years old, she’s the owner of a hockey team — the Detroit Red Wings — and a casino. Oh, and the Detroit Tigers baseball team also belong to her family. So who is this lady and how did she amass a $5.1 billion fortune that sets her above Oprah as the richest self-made woman?
Marian Ilitch and her husband late Mike got into the pizza business, and chances are you’ve had your fair share of her pies. That’s because Marian and Mike are the founders of Little Caesars Pizza — the third-most popular pizza chain in 2016.
This homemade pizza will satisfy all your cheese cravings!
Little Caesars Pizza got its start in Garden City, MI, in 1959, and today there are more than 4,500 locations in the U.S. and abroad. The name Little Caesars was actually Marian’s nickname for Mike. And with Marian in charge of finances and Mike in charge of marketing, the pair went from selling 49 pies on their first day to franchising the brand three years later.
Even though Marian doesn’t say much to the press, the Ilitch family’s contributions to local organizations and to the state of Michigan are well-documented. The Little Caesars Love Kitchen Fund serves as a meals-on-wheels and operates 365 day out of the year. Mike and Marian also donated millions — more than $35 million and counting — to charities and non-profits through Ilitch Charities. What a wonderful example she’s set for her and Mike’s seven children.
With Little Caesars raking in about $4 billion annually, according to Delish, Marian is a bonafide billionaire. However, thanks to Mike’s savvy, the family has acquired the aforementioned sports teams which brings Marian’s net worth up to almost double Oprah’s. The well-loved TV host is worth about $2.9 billion — which is nothing to scoff at.
So if you’re having a bad day, just remind yourself of Marian Ilitch’s story and remember that nothing is impossible!