McLovin’ It: Ray Kroc’s Net Worth, Life, And Career Revolving Around McDonald’s

There are many surprising facts about one of the biggest fast-food companies in the world: McDonald’s. First off, a new restaurant opens somewhere in the world every 14.5 hours to the point that you will never be more than 115 miles from a branch if you’re in the U.S.A. The business is so massive that it makes over $75,000,000 per day, so it’s not surprising that Ray Kroc’s net worth has nine digits. But who is he, and what was his role in making McDonald’s the fast-food giant today?

While we live in a time when wealthy people and their businesses are under fire for being unsustainable, the stories of these people’s lives and how they rose to the top are still fascinating. So, if this is the first time you’re hearing about Ray Kroc and that he is one of the people responsible for making McDonald’s the company we know today, then you’re in luck. We have here some fun facts about his early life that you might find interesting. Of course, we will also look at Ray Kroc’s net worth and many more details about his career.

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McLife And McCareer

Raymond Albert Kroc was an American businessman who lived from October 5, 1902, to January 14, 1984. From 1967 to 1973, he was the CEO of McDonald’s, which he bought in 1961 and worked hard to turn into something more than just a fast-food – he helped turn it into a household name, an iconic brand. Of course, most people know that the fast-food firm is one the world’s most successful firms, and its status is because of Kroc’s decision and dedication to expanding it globally.

While Ray Kroc didn’t start the company, many still often regarded him as the founder of the McDonald’s Corporation due to the company’s success and growth when he came on board. But what kind of childhood did he have to reach his level of success? Let’s find out by looking at his early life.

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Early Life – He Wasn’t Born Rich

Kroc was born to Czech-American parents Rose Mary Hrach and Alois Kroc, on October 5, 1902, in Chicago, Illinois. After emigrating to America, his father built a fortune betting on land in the 1920s, only to lose everything in the 1929 stock market crash. He went on to work as a superintendent after that.

Ray Kroc was raised in Oak Park and spent most of his childhood there. He lied about his age and joined the Red Cross as an ambulance driver at the age of 15, alongside Walt Disney, during World War I. However, the war ended not long after he enlisted. Kroc did a variety of professions during the Great Depression, including being a salesman, a real estate agent in Florida, and a pianist.

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Career – He Bought McDonald’s From McDonald’s Brothers

The McDonald Brothers, enjoying a McMeal.
Dick and Mac McDonald, the founders of McDonald’s. Source:

In 1954, Ray Kroc paid a visit to a restaurant in San Bernardino, California, operated by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, to respond to their needs of his multi-mixers, which was one of the products he was selling. He was fascinated by the company’s business operations by serving its customers through a simple menu made of burgers, fries, and beverages. Kroc saw this opportunity and the potential to turn the restaurant into a chain, so he offered to work as a franchise agent. In 1955, he started McDonald’s System, Inc., which will later become McDonald’s Corporation, and opened the company’s first new location in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Of course, his success story doesn’t start and end there as he was still losing money even after 100 McDonald’s restaurants in 1959, so he established a system in which he would lease the land to new franchises. He based this new business strategy on the recommendation of Harry J. Sonneborn, who would become McDonald’s Corp.’s first president. In 1961, Kroc was able to buy the company from the McDonald brothers thanks to Sonneborn’s $2.7 million loan.

Fast forward to a few decades later, McDonald’s started to become the chain we know of today. In contrast, many criticize the fast-food chain for its nutritional value, treatment of their workers, cutthroat business practices, and Kroc’s business model. McDonald’s had 7,500 locations in almost three dozen countries and was worth $8 billion when he died of heart failure at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, on January 14, 1984. Ray Kroc’s net worth at death is $600 million.

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“The Founder”: A fast-food story

Personal Life – His Third Marriage Has Helped The World

With all that money, you’re probably asking what Ray Kroc did with it and the empire he’s built. Fortunately, he started The Kroc Foundation, which supported medical research, treatment, and education of serious diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It is best known for founding the Ronald McDonald House, a non-profit organization that provides free accommodation for parents of children receiving treatment at their medical facilities.

Ray Kroc went through three marriages but only had one child from his first marriage with Ethel Fleming. Kroc and Fleming met in 1919, tied the knot in 1922, and gave birth to their daughter Marilyn in 1924. Joan Kroc, his third wife, was a philanthropist who used the money Ray Kroc left behind for the charity and causes she supports. Unfortunately, even when Marilyn was an only child, she didn’t get anything from her father’s fortune.

How did Marilyn Kroc die? She died after years of battling diabetes. Joan Kroc died of brain cancer, but fortunately, she stayed true to her philanthropic causes until her death and used the fortune she inherited and built to continue helping charities. Many believed her total net worth was $3 billion. Well, at least we know one billionaire who wasn’t greedy and used her wealth and power to change the world for the better.

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It’s Fun To Learn Some McHistory

It’s interesting to find out how McDonald’s went from being a regular fast food restaurant to a fast-food giant. What’s more interesting is how Ray Kroc’s net worth and posthumous fortune went to the good hands and has helped many people’s lives. Thanks to his third wife, who many have nicknamed Saint Joan of Arches. Their story also inspired the Lisa Napoli book Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made The McDonald’s Fortune and The Woman Who Gave it All Away, a fitting title to sum up what they did during their lifetime.

Do you want to read some more articles like this? Check out Jobandedu and our entertainment section.


Leonard hails from the Philippines and works as a freelancer, author, poet, and visual artist. He discovered his passion for writing and painting at an early age, leading him to pursue a degree in Mass Communications. He worked at a few places after college before landing what he thought was a "life-changing" writing career. He was also the lead singer and songwriter for a band. His career as an English teacher, poet, and visual artist took him to Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2018. You can see more of his work on Instagram at @anumalei.