John Ricketts 101: Philanthropic Business Visionary
Zatrun Published at February 03, 2024

John Ricketts, the American businessman and philanthropist, is not your average entrepreneur. With a net worth of US$2.7 billion, as reported by Forbes in 2019, Ricketts has not only made a significant impact on the business world but has also embraced various entrepreneurial ventures that highlight his versatility and innovation. In this comprehensive exploration, provides an in-depth look into the life and career of John Ricketts, uncovering the intricate details of his multifaceted journey.

John Ricketts: A Nebraska Native’s Journey

John Ricketts, born on July 16, 1941, hails from Nebraska City, Nebraska. He is the son of Florence M. and Donavon Platte Ricketts. Ricketts’ academic journey took shape at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1968. Today, his roots and values remain deeply connected to his upbringing.

Married to Marlene Margaret Volkmer, John Ricketts is a family man with four children: Pete, Thomas, Laura, and Todd. Raised in the Catholic faith, Ricketts currently resides in the picturesque Hoback Basin of Wyoming. His family values and experiences have played a significant role in shaping his business ethics and philanthropic endeavors.

TD Ameritrade: Building a Financial Empire

In 1975, John Ricketts embarked on a remarkable journey in the world of finance when he and a few partners invested $12,500 each to form First Omaha Securities, a retail securities brokerage firm. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, this firm eventually grew into Ameritrade, later known as TD Ameritrade.

John Ricketts served as the CEO and chairman of the board for this financial powerhouse. However, in October 2011, he decided to retire from the TD Ameritrade board to focus more on his entrepreneurial ventures and philanthropic efforts.

Ricketts’ entrepreneurial spirit extended beyond the world of finance. In 2004, he founded High Plains Bison, a retailer specializing in natural bison meat. Not only does this business thrive through online and offline sales channels, but it is also the official bison vendor at Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Field. A part of the bison supply is raised on a Wyoming ranch owned by Ricketts, and a luxurious four-bedroom lodge named The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch adds to the charm of the property.

In 2008, John Ricketts established The American Film Company, a unique venture that focuses on producing feature films based on true stories from American history. One notable creation of this company is the historical drama film “The Conspirator,” directed by Robert Redford. This film serves as an exemplar of Ricketts’ dedication to showcasing significant historical events through the lens of cinema.

In 2009, Ricketts ventured into the digital news arena with the launch of This digital news service covered neighborhood news in New York City and Chicago. While it was known for its comprehensive coverage, the platform faced an unexpected turn in 2017 when employees voted to unionize. Ricketts decided to shut down the platform, which also led to the closing of related platforms such as Gothamist, Chicagoist, DCist, LAist, SFist, and Shanghaiist. However, archived versions of these sites were restored shortly after.

The Chicago Cubs: A Dream Realized

One of the most significant milestones in John Ricketts’ life was the acquisition of the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team and historic Wrigley Field in October 2009. The Ricketts family, including John Ricketts, owns a 95 percent controlling interest in the team, marking the eighth ownership group in the team’s 133-year history.

While Ricketts isn’t directly involved in the team’s operations, his son, Tom Ricketts, serves as the Cubs’ chairman. Their ownership culminated in a triumphant moment in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, ending a 108-year championship drought.

John Ricketts has also played a significant role in the political sphere. He co-founded the Campaign for Primary Accountability (CPA), a bipartisan initiative targeting both Democratic and Republican incumbents in primary elections. In 2010, he led a campaign against earmarks and wasteful federal spending.

Ricketts founded Taxpayers Against Earmarks, an organization focused on assessing members of Congress based on their stance on spending. The campaign successfully pushed for a moratorium on earmarks in 2010 and later expanded its focus under the name Ending Spending.

Ricketts went a step further by establishing The Ending Spending Fund, a political action committee that sponsored independent advertisements in various Congressional races, aiming to shed light on incumbents’ earmark-related policies. He took a transparent approach to his political activities by willingly disclosing his identity.

A Philanthropic Vision: Changing Lives Globally

John Ricketts’ commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond the business and political realms. He founded the Opportunity Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on training teachers and students in the Third World, underwriting the associated costs. The foundation collaborates with Louisiana College to train teachers in East and West Africa, striving to make education accessible in underserved regions.

In recognition of his philanthropic efforts, Louisiana College presented John Ricketts and his brother, Jim, with Trustees’ Distinguished Service Awards. Their contributions to the educational system in the Third World have left an enduring mark.

John Ricketts’ life is a testament to the power of entrepreneurial vision, diverse business ventures, family values, and philanthropy. His journey from the world of finance to film production, digital news, and Major League Baseball ownership is a source of inspiration. Ricketts’ commitment to making a positive impact on various facets of life, from business to education and beyond, continues to inspire individuals worldwide. His story showcases the significance of hard work, innovation, and giving back to the community.

Follow the developments in the crypto world. What would you like us to inform you about?