Marian Ilitch is a leading entrepreneur in the food, sports and entertainment industries and is widely recognized as one of the most successful businesswomen in the country.
Working hand-in-hand, Marian and her husband and lifetime business partner, Mike Ilitch (1929-2017), grew a single Little Caesars pizza store into the third largest pizza chain in the world with stores in more than 20 countries and territories worldwide, including in each of the 50 U.S. states.
Avid hockey fans, the couple expanded their business interests when they purchased the Detroit Red Wings in 1982. Under their ownership, the Red Wings have won 16 divisional championships, six President's Trophies, six Campbell Bowls and four Stanley Cups.
Through the years, the Ilitch-owned businesses have grown to also include Blue Line Distribution, Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Development of Michigan, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. and Champion Foods. Additionally, the organization has a joint venture interest in 313 Presents. Marian also owns MotorCity Casino Hotel.
Today, the Ilitch organization is developing The District Detroit, a dynamic urban destination that provides a dense neighborhood experience featuring a variety of developments alongside Detroit's premier sports and entertainment venues. This includes the new highly innovative and state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, and the recipient of the 2018 Sports Facility of the Year award, presented by Sports Business Journal.
Giving back to the community has been one of Marian's trademarks since her early days in business. As the parents of children who played hockey, Marian and Mike established the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey Program in 1968, and it has provided opportunities for tens of thousands of young people to play hockey. Additional programs to better the community include the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, Ilitch Charities and its affiliates, the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, and the Little Caesars Veterans Program.
Since 2000, grants and giving from Marian and Mike, the Ilitch companies and its charitable affiliates have totaled $190 million. This includes Marian and Mike's personal gifts of nearly $50 million to Detroit's Wayne State University - $8 million to the Department of Surgery and $40 million to build a new home for the Mike Ilitch School of Business, prominently located on Woodward Avenue.