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Richard DeVos
Please vote to return to collections (Voting Results will appear on Right Sidebar).
    (March 4, 1926-September 6, 2018)
    Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Co-founder of Amway (1959)
    Bought the Orlando Magic (1991)
    Family’s estimated net worth: $5.4 billion (2018)
    Father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsey DeVos
    His company’s ‘multi-level marketing’ is often described as a fancier version of a pyramid scheme.
    Several studies have found that a majority of Amway distributors lost money on the venture.
    He and two other Amway executives were charged in Canada with customs fraud for underreporting the value of goods imported into the country (1982); charges were dropped after Amway agreed to pay $45 million in outstanding custom duties and a $25 million fine, the largest imposed in Canada at the time.
    A few months after he and his wife donated $1 million to the Republican National Committee, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott added a last-minute provision to a tax bill that gave Amway and four other companies $19 million in tax breaks on earnings from their Asian branches (1997).
    He funded anti-gay rights organizations like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.
    Despite his own wealth, he demanded that Orange County pay to build a new arena for the Magic.
    He was married to Helen van Wesep for 64 years.
    He served in the Army Air Force during World War II.
    An investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (1979) concluded that Amway was not a pyramid scheme, although the FTC did find that the company engaged in price fixing and misrepresented potential profits to distributors.
    He gave millions to educational and medical charities and helped fund the revitalization of his hometown of Grand Rapids.
    Each month, he sent dozens of notes of appreciation to Amway employees, noting ‘I’ve built my business on complimenting people. We don’t do that enough.’
    He said, ‘We call our company Amway because the American way of private ownership and free enterprise is the best way.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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