Sioux Falls, SD

The richest person in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Luay Rahil
Photo Credit: Canva

Earlier this year, Forbes published its annual list Forbes 400, which ranks the richest Americans by their net worths. The 400 richest Americans saw their combined wealth increase 40% over the last year, to $4.5 trillion. Almost all are richer than last year.

Today, I will uncover the richest person in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

According to Forbes Magazine, only one billionaire on the Forbes 400 considers South Dakota home. His name is Thomas Denny Sanford, with a net worth of $3.4B. He is the 176th richest man in the country.

Thomas Denny Sanford is a South Dakota billionaire business executive, First Premier Bank founder, and the chair and chief executive officer of its holding company, United National Corporation.

Early life

Sanford was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on December 23, 1935, to William B. and Edith Sanford. His mother, Edith, died when he was four years old from breast cancer. His mother's absence left a painful emotional void in his life.

By age 8, Sanford was working in his father's garment shop and continued to work through college.

Following high school graduation, the police arrested him for drinking and fighting and placed him in a juvenile detention center. However, they released him after 36 days on the condition that he enroll in college.

Rise to the top

He attended the University of Minnesota. While at college, Sanford lost his dad to heart disease and worked at Armstrong Cork Company. In 960, Sanford left Armstrong Cork and established Contech, which manufactured sealants, coatings, and adhesives. In 1982, he sold the company for $28 million.

In 1986, Thomas Denny Sanford Sanford purchased United National Bank, which was later renamed First PREMIER Bank, that offered people with poor credit scores access to First Premier Bank MasterCard.

Legal trouble

Focusing on serving people with bad credit landed the bank in legal trouble. In 2007, the bank settled a case with the New York Attorney General, who claimed the bank used deceptive practices and illegal tactics to market its credit cards and ordered the bank to pay New York consumers $4.5 million in refunds. As a result, first Premier cards are one of the highest interest rates in the industry.

Success to significance

Sanford is a big donor to the Children's Home Society of South Dakota. His donation allowed them to build an endowment, construct more buildings and establish programs for troubled kids in South Dakota.

In 2007, he provided a historic $400 million gift to Sioux Valley Health, the largest donation ever to an American health care organization.

Have you heard about T. Denny Sanford before this article?

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