J.B. Pritzker



Political Party:

Democratic Party


Chicago, Il


Businessman, Philanthropist, Politician

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Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker is an American billionaire, Democratic politician, left-of-center philanthropist, co-founder of the Pritzker Group, and co-director of the Pritzker Family Foundation. In 2018, he was elected the 43rd governor of Illinois, taking office in January 2019.


Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker is a member of the wealthy Pritzker family, which derives its wealth from the Hyatt hotel chain. His elder sister Penny Pritzker was Secretary of Commerce during the Obama Administration, and his elder brother Anthony “Tony” Pritzker is managing partner of the Pritzker Group. 1

Before becoming directly involved in politics, Pritzker was active in a variety of Chicago-based organizations. Pritzker chaired ChicagoNEXT, a council on innovation and technology instituted by then-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). 2 Pritzker helped to found various Chicago business groups, such as the Illinois Venture Capital Association and Chicagoland Entrepreneur Center. He was also a direct cofounder of Chicago Ventures as well as a funder of Techstars Chicago and Built in Chicago. Along with his elder brother, Anthony, he cofounded Pritzker Private Capital, which focuses on middle-market companies. 3 4

During the Wisconsin 2023 State Supreme Court Election, financial records show that Pritzker donated roughly $1,00,000 to the Wisconsin state Democratic Party on March 14, 2023. Between February 7 and March 20, 2023, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin donated roughly $8.7 million towards the campaign for Democratic candidate Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz. 5 6

Early Political Involvement

In 1991, Pritzker helped to organize the Chicago-based Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a group aimed at mobilizing and collecting information about young voters. 7 Further, during that decade, he served as a legislative aide in the offices of then-U.S. Senators Alan Dixon (D-IL) and Terry Sanford (D-NC). 8

In 1998, Pritzker ran for the Democratic nomination in Illinois’s 9th congressional district, spending his own wealth heavily on television advertisements. 9 Ultimately, he finished third to out of five candidates in the primary, receiving about one-fifth of the vote. 10

In the 2008 presidential election, Pritzker was national co-chairman of the campaign of then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and was also delegate to the Democratic National Convention of that year. Eventually, he shifted his endorsement to the eventual Democratic candidate and President Barack Obama, supporting his campaign later in the election season. 11

FBI wiretap controversy

In May 2017, the Chicago Tribune published an 11-minute Federal Bureau of Investigation wiretap of Pritzker speaking with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) in 2008, discussing Pritzker’s contributions to Blagojevich’s campaign and desire to be appointed to state office, including possibly state treasurer. However, though the content of the conversation was widely criticized, Pritzker claimed to not have “not done anything wrong,” and subsequently, law enforcement did not make any allegations of wrongdoing. 12 13

Governor of Illinois

On April 6, 2017, Pritzker announced his candidacy for Governor. On August 10, he named state Rep. Juliana Stratton as his running mate. On March 20, 2018, Pritzker won the Democratic primary and, in the November general election, beat incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), receiving roughly 54 percent of the vote. Notably, during the race, Pritzker spent $171.5 million of his own wealth on his campaign. 14 15 16 17

Pritzker was inaugurated as the 43rd governor of Illinois on January 14, 2019. Generally, Pritzker’s administration is left-of-center, supporting pro-abortion, environmentalist, and pro-immigration policies. 18 19 20 21

Prtizker Family Foundation

The Pritzker Family, due to its ownership of Hyatt Hotels and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, is one of the wealthiest families in the United States. After the death of Jay A. Pritzker in 1999, the resulting dispute among his heirs regarding the distribution of his $15 billion in assets caused the family to reorganize its philanthropic holdings, eventually transferring millions from family foundations to various charitable entities controlled by Pritzker family members. During this period, in 2002, the J.B. and M.K. Prtizker Family Foundation (often known simply as the Pritzker Family Foundation) emerged from the reorganization. 22

The foundation, which is jointly controlled by Pritzker and his wife, Mary Katherine Pritzker, generally contributes to educational institutions, local organizations near properties owned by the couple in Illinois, and left-of-center organizations, including the Center for American Progress and the New America Foundation. 23 24


  1. “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.” CJ News. June 3, 2017. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  2. Yerak, Becky. “Chicago creates council to attract tech jobs.” Chicago Tribune. October 16, 2012. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  3. “J.B. Pritzker, co-founder, Pritzker Group.” Blue Sky Innovation. Accessed February 23, 2022.,0,0.story
  5. Masters, Mary Lou. Soros, Pelosi And Other Top Dems Pour Money Into State Party Ahead Of ‘Nonpartisan’ Wisconsin Supreme Court Race.” The Daily Caller, March 28, 2023.
  6. “CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT STATE OF WISCONSIN CF-2.” Madison, WI: Wisconsin Ethics Commission, 2023.
  7. Fill, Gwen. “Seeking Electoral Edge, Parties Court the Young.” New York Times. October 14, 1991. Accessed February 21, 2022.
  8.  Spencer, LeAnn. “DEMOCRATS SUIT UP FOR YATES’ SEAT IN THE 9th.” Chicago Tribune. February 4, 1998. Accessed February 21, 2022.
  9. Spencer, LeAnn and Ted Gregory. “PRITZKER PUMPS $500,000 INTO TV ADS.” Chicago Tribune. February 26, 1998. Accessed February 21, 2022.
  10. “Official Final Results.” Cook County Illinois. March 17, 1998. Accessed February 21, 2022.
  11. Morain, Dan. “J.B. Pritzker and Penny Pritzker end their Clinton-Obama rift.” Los Angeles Times. August 25, 2008. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  12. Lighty, Todd, Jeff Coen, and David Heinzemann. “J.B. Pritzker sought political office from Blagojevich, 2008 FBI wiretaps show.” Chicago Tribune. May 31, 2017.  Accessed February 21, 2022.
  13. Brown, Mark. “Blago wiretaps show Pritzker looking for political appointment.” Chicago Sun-Times. May 31, 2017. Accessed February 23, 2022
  14. Madhani, Aamer. “Billionaire J.B. Pritzker announces run for Illinois governor.” USA Today. April 6, 2017. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  15. Pearson, Rick. “Pritzker announces state Rep. Stratton as running mate.” Chicago Tribune. August 10, 2017. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  16. “Illinois Election Results.” Washington Post. 2018. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  17. McDermott, Kevin. “‘Moneyball”: The 2018 Illinois Governor’s Race.” NPR Illinois. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  18. Governor JB Pritzker announces re-election bid for 2022.” WGN9. July 19, 2021. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  19. Kelly, Caroline. “Illinois governor signs sweeping abortion protection bill into law.” CNN Politics. June 12, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  20. Mackey, Brian. “Pritzker Says New Laws Make Illinois ‘Firewall’ Against Trump On Immigration.” NPR Illinois. June 21, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  21. Briscoe, Tony. “Gov. J.B. Pritzker commits Illinois to climate change fight as study shows extreme weather convincing more people.” Chicago Tribune. January 23, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  22. “Pritzker Family Completes Overhaul of Charitable Holdings.” Philanthropy News Digest. December 24, 2002. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  23. “Northwestern Law School Receives $100 Million From Pritzker Family.” Philanthropy News Digest. October 23, 2015. Accessed February 23, 2022.
  24. Prtizker Family Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2015, Part XV.
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