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Subway Sandwiches: A $5B Gift?

Subway cofounder Peter Buck donated 50% of the sandwich chain to charity in his will, according to his family.

Peter Buck was a nuclear physicist working for United Nuclear when he put up $1000 in 1965 for his friend Fred DeLuca to open a sandwich shop. “Pete’s Super Submarines” became “Pete’s Subway,” and by 1973, it was “Subway Sandwiches” with a new logo, 16 locations, and franchises beginning to pop up. In 2010, it was the largest fast food chain worldwide, with 33,749 locations, beating out McDonald’s more than 2:1.

In 2015, Peter Buck was listed as No. 261 on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest people, with a net worth estimated at $1.6 billion. He and his wife founded the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation (PCLB) to manage his family’s philanthropy. They supported the Internet Archive, donated a 23.1 carat rub to the Smithsonian, gave grants to colleges and hospitals, and purchased so much land for the purpose of open space conservation that Peter Buck has been the seventh-largest landowner in the United States since 2020.

Forbes calculates that during his life, Peter Buck and his wife gave over $580 million to the foundation since it was formed, allowing it to disburse over $650 million.

He passed away in November 2021. On Tuesday, his wife announced that his will decreed that his entire half of Subway Sandwiches be incorporated into the PCLB, to continue to fund conservation, medicine, education, and free journalism.

“This gift will allow the foundation to greatly expand its philanthropic endeavors and impact many more lives, especially our work to create educational opportunities for all students, work Dr. Buck cared so deeply about,” Carrie Schindele, the executive director of the PCLB, said in a short press release.

Subway is currently exploring a sale of its holdings to an unknown partner, which could value the company at over $10 billion. If it does, Buck’s bequest will be worth over $5 billion, making it one of the single largest donations in history.

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