Jimmy John Liautaud sandwich chain founder Jimmy John’s Jimmy John Liauto, along with his wife, donated $137,000 to Andrew Giuliani’s campaign for New York governor last month, according to a state board of elections filing.
No one donated more than Liauto and his wife, who each gave $68,329. Together, their donations represent one-third of the total $400,000 raised by the campaign.
Their donations came days after Giuliani, son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, did not receive a single vote in a closed straw poll of New York County Republican chairmen and committee leaders in late June. Giuliani has not previously held elected office. He recently worked in the White House for Donald Trump, whose father is known to have been a lawyer and adviser.
The favorite to win the 2022 election from the New York GOP is Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who represents the eastern part of Long Island in the U.S. Congress. Since announcing his campaign in April, Zeldin has raised more than $4 million — significantly more than Giuliani. Some of that money has come from billionaires such as hedge fund manager John Paulson (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 spokesman for Lauto declined to comment on his contributions. Lauto and his wife supported Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020 and donated more than $200,000 to joint fundraising committees in support of the former president. Lauto and his wife, registered to vote in Florida and Illinois, respectively, also invested in New York politics last year, donating to the candidate who lost to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary.
Lauto opened Jimmy John’s in Illinois in 1983 after taking out a $25,000 loan from his father. Jimmy John’s now has 2,800 locations in the United States, almost all of which are franchised. Lauto, whose fortune is now estimated at $1.7 billion, sold his remaining stake in Jimmy John’s to Inspire Brands in 2019.