Jimmy John’s sandwich chain founder Jimmy John Liautaud gave $137,000 with his wife to Andrew Giuliani’s campaign for New York governor last month, according to a state Board of Elections filing.
No one has donated more than Liautaud and his wife, who each gave $68,329. Together, their contributions make up one-third of the roughly $400,000 that the campaign has raised in total.
Their donations came in days after Giuliani, son of the embattled former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, failed to receive any votes at a closed-door straw poll among New York county Republican chairs and committee leaders in late June. Giuliani has not held elected office before. He recently worked in the White House for Donald Trump, for whom his father famously served as a lawyer and advisor.
The favored candidate in the 2022 election by New York’s GOP is Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who represents eastern Long Island in the U.S. Congress. Zeldin has raised over $4 million since he announced his campaign in April—significantly more than Giuliani. Some of that has come from billionaires, like hedge funder John Paulson (who donated $60,829), investor Ken Langone ($25,000) and Cox heiress Margaretta Taylor ($10,000). Recent billionaire donors to Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose campaign raised more than $2 million in the first half of 2021, include William Lauder ($35,000) and Jim Walton ($20,000).
A representative for Liautaud declined to comment on his contributions. Liautaud and his wife supported Donald Trump’s reelection in 2020 and gave more than $200,000 to joint-fundraising committees supporting the former president. Liautaud and his wife, who are registered to vote in Florida and Illinois respectively, also put money into New York politics last year by donating to the candidate who lost to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary.
Liautaud launched Jimmy John’s in Illinois in 1983 with a $25,000 loan from his father. Jimmy John’s now has 2,800 locations in the U.S., virtually all of which are franchises. Liautaud, who is now worth an estimated $1.7 billion, sold his remaining stake of Jimmy John’s to Inspire Brands in 2019.