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John Mars

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John Mars shares ownership of Mars Inc., the world’s largest confectioner. The McLean, Virginia-based closely held company makes candy (M&Ms, Snickers, Milky Way), chewing gum (Juicy Fruit, Orbit), pet chow (Pedigree, Whiskas) and packaged foods (Ben’s Original, Suzi Wan), and has annual revenue of almost $50 billion.

The majority of Mars’s fortune derives from his one-third stake in McLean, Virginia-based Mars Inc., a closely held US candy, food and pet products company.

The analysis assumes the fortune was inherited equally by third-generation siblings Jacqueline, John and Forrest Jr. The third attributed to Forrest Jr was split equally among his four children after his death in 2016. The company declined to comment on the breakdown of individual shareholders.

The business is the world’s largest candy maker and best known for confections such as Snickers, M&Ms, Milky Way and Twix. With its purchase of Wrigley in 2008 for $23 billion, it commands more than half the US chewing-gum market, according to Euromonitor, and sells such brands as Big Red, Doublemint, Eclipse, Juicy Fruit and Orbit. Its other popular candies include Skittles, Starburst, Life Savers and Altoids. Its food brands include Ben’s Original and Suzi Wan, and pet food and care brands include Pedigree, Whiskas and Eukanuba.

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Mars has annual sales of almost $50 billion, according to a Moody’s report from April 2023. It’s valued using the average enterprise value-to-sales and enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiples of three publicly traded peer companies: Hershey, Nestle and Mondelez International.

Mars acquired animal-hospital chain VCA Inc. for $7.6 billion in 2017 and snack-bar maker Kind in 2020. Both assets are included in Mars Inc.’s valuation.

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Mars Inc has $17 billion in loans and other debt as of May 2023, according to Bloomberg data. The billionaire’s share of that debt is included as a liability.  

Mars Inc.’s external spokeswoman Amy Weiss declined to comment on the valuation.


Education: Yale University

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Grandfather Frank Mars, who was born in 1882, learned to hand-dip chocolate as a schoolboy. He began making and selling buttercream candies from his home in Tacoma, Washington, in 1911, and moved the business to Minneapolis in 1920, operating under the banner Nougat House. A long string of confectionery blockbusters followed, including Milky Way, Snickers and 3 Musketeers.

After his death in 1934, Frank’s only son, Forrest, took over the business and expanded into pet care with the purchase of Chappie canned dog food and, later, into packaged food with the addition of what would become Uncle Ben’s rice. Forrest stepped down from day-to-day management of the global food manufacturer in 1969, turning over control to his two sons, John and Forrest Jr., who died in 2016.

Along with sister Jacqueline, the billionaire continues to serve on the company’s board. John lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with his wife Adrienne Bevis and their three children.


  • 1904 Father Forrest Edward Mars is born in Wadena, Minnesota.
  • 1911 Grandfather Frank C. Mars begins selling buttercream candy.
  • 1929 Mars Inc. relocates to Chicago. Forrest Mars joins the business.
  • 1930 Mars begins selling the Snickers bar.
  • 1932 Forrest Mars moves to England to set up his own confectionery.
  • 1935 John Franklyn Mars is born.
  • 1957 Graduates from the Yale School of Engineering.
  • 1969 Takes over management of Mars with Forrest Jr. after father retires.
  • 2008 Mars acquires Wrigley for $23 billion.

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