The Wyoming billionaire giving away his fortune

Ash Jurberg

What would you do if you were a billionaire? Would you spend it all, or would you give it all away?

In the case of Wyoming resident Hansjorg Wyss- you choose the second option. Wyss, who has a net worth of $5 billion, devotes most of his wealth to help others.

Let's take a quick look at the Wyoming billionaire giving away his fortune.

The Wyoming billionaire giving away his fortune

Hansjörg Wyss was born in 1935 in Switzerland.

As a student, he worked for the Colorado Highway Department and knew that he wanted to return to live in the United States. He received a Masters's degree in Switzerland before moving to the US to study at Harvard, where he earned an MBA.

In 1977 he founded Synthes USA, a medical device manufacturer. He built Synthes into the world's largest maker of implants to mend bone fractures, and its products have helped millions of patients recover from skeletal and soft tissue trauma and injuries.

Wyss sold his company to Johnson & Johnson for $20.2 billion in 2012. He was now a multi-billionaire and decided to focus on philanthropy.


Forbes has described Wyss as "one of the most philanthropic people in the world," making major donations to environmental and scientific causes.

He created the Wyss Foundation to support "innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land." In addition, Wyss launched a $1.5 billion campaign to confront the global conservation crisis.

A long-time resident of Wyoming, Wyss is particularly passionate about protecting the Wyoming Range.

This is about neighbors and communities coming together to protect an iconic Western landscape, so the Wyoming Range will always remain open for everyone to hunt, fish, hike, and explore.” Wyss talking about the protection of Wyoming's Hoback Basin

Wyss has always been appreciative of the opportunities and education he has received in the United States and wants to ensure that everyone has the same chance to pursue their dreams. The Wyss Foundation "works to achieve this goal by investing in programs and initiatives that expand economic opportunity and help more Americans enter the middle class."

In 2013, Wyss signed the Giving Pledge, in which he promised to give away the majority of his wealth while he is still alive.

President Thomas Jefferson reminds us: ‘There is a debt of service due from every man to his country proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.’ I have been fortunate to benefit from the opportunities endowed by this nation, its land, and our world. I am determined to fill my duty to others so we may always expand the reach of human possibility and compassion.”

Readers, what do you think of Wyss' story? What other organizations in Wyoming would you like to see him support?

Please leave your answers below.

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