Billionaire investor and philanthropist J.B. Pritzker is running for Illinois Governor in 2018. His wife, M.K. Muenster Pritzker, started her career in politics and is his biggest supporter.
Here’s everything you need to know:
1. She Grew Up in South Dakota and is Close With her Family
Mary Kathryn Muenster was born in South Dakota in 1967 to Theodore and Karen Muenster. She has an older brother Tom and a younger brother Ted, and was close with her grandma.
“She was the most amazing person who taught me how to knit and farm and the importance of giving. I fed the pigs every morning. My grandparents weren’t well off. But it was the best time. She was the church secretary at the First Christian Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, and she would collect the donations,” she said to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Muenster attended the University of Nebraska, and interned on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where she met Pritzker.
2. She Met her Husband on a Blind Date, Where They Bonded Over Their Names
M.K. Muenster and J.B. Pritzker met on a blind date in Washington, D.C. Muenster was working for
South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, and Pritzker was working for Illinois Senator Alan Dixon. A mutual friend set them up on a lunch date at a place called the American Cafe, and Pritzker forgot his wallet.
“While we were looking at the menu, I realized my wallet was in my car four blocks away! So I excused myself — and I SPRINTED four blocks wearing a blazer and tie! I returned 10 minutes later. I thought it was over,” he told the Sun-Times.
M.K said she wondered why he was sweating so heavily when he returned. She ordered a chicken sandwich, and Pritzker told the Sun Times it cost $4.80.
The couple was married in 1993. They call themselves by their initials, and friends have joked that they should call their kids ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C,’ according to the Chicago Tribune.
Pritzker said the fact that they both went by their initials was a sign that their love was “written in the stars.”
3. She Grew Up With Parents Involved in Local Politics
Muenster’s mother Karen Muenster was a South Dakota state senator from 1987 to 1993.
Her father, Ted Muenster, was chief of staff for South Dakota Governor Richard Kneip.
He then ran for the United States Senate in 1990, but lost to Larry Pressler.
“I was pleased but not surprised by my 1990 campaign for U.S. Senate in how kind and generous the people of South Dakota were,” Muenster said. “Not once during the campaign did I have an unpleasant encounter with a South Dakotan. Of course, a majority of them didn’t vote for me in the end, but my respect and affection for South Dakota only grew in the experience,” he said to the Argus Leader.
While at the University of Nebraska, M.K. Muenster worked for Senatro Thomas Daschle in Washington, D.C.
4. Her Life in Chicago Revolves Around her Children and Working on Women’s Issues
The Pritzker’s have two children. Their daughter, Teddi, is 14-years-old, and her son, Donny, is 12-years old.
M.K. Pritzker is president and director of the J.B. and M.K Pritzker Family Foundation, which aims to foster effective solutions to early childhood, community, and women’s health issues.
She is a trustee and director of the Northwestern Memorial Foundation, and a founder of the Evergreen Invitational, which addresses women’s health issues.
5. She Supports Her Husband’s Campaign, and Says the Feeling is Mutual
J.B. Pritzker told the Chicago Sun Times that his wife is his “partner in everything.”
She is supportive of his campaign for Illinois Governor, and says nothing has made him more excited.
“I’ve known him for 30 years and not once has he let me down. He will not let the people of the state down. He truly cares. We’ve been married for 24 years and I’ve never seen him so excited; hoping to get people’s lives back on track; helping those who have little or no help,” she said.
She says her husband is equally supportive of her and everything she does, and that he cares about women’s health issues, which are important to her.
Aside from supporting his business and political moves, she helps her husband in more personal areas as well. Pritzker has been overweight for most of his life, but his wife is helping him find a solution.
“She jokes that I don’t do anything healthy for myself unless I invest in it, and I invested in a company called Retrofit,” Pritzker told Chicago Magazine. Retrofit uses mobile technology to help companies help their employees lose weight. He’s lost 50 pounds in the last year and a half, and says his motivation is to “be around for my kids and for my wife as long as I can.”