Meet The Hobby Lobby CEO David Green – The Controversial Billionaire Founder

Being a religious person in today’s increasingly circular world can be fraught with several challenges and one person that can testify to this fact is American business executive, David Green. A native of Emporia, Kansas, Green overcame a poor background to become a billionaire; turning his makeshift arts and crafts manufacturing operation into a global empire known as Hobby Lobby. Green now has a fortune of $7.6 billion but it is not his impressive achievements that have fetched him a greater portion of the spotlight. Rather, it is his deeply held religious beliefs.

Thanks to his affinity for the Christian faith, his every step is heavily scrutinized with many quick to point out when they feel he is not living up to his biblical principles. The Hobby Lobby CEO has faced criticism for his stance against contraceptive pills. His move to lay off workers during the covid-19 pandemic shutdown also brought a barrage of criticism his way as some argued that the move was hardly the Christian thing to do.

David Green is the Son of a Small-Town Preacher

Before he became one of the 400 richest individuals on the face of the earth, David Green was just a little boy who was born in Emporia, Kansas on the 13th of November 1941. He hailed from a family of seven and his father was a small-town preacher who didn’t have much to his name.

The senior Green moved around from town to town looking for where to find a permanent congregation and the entire family eventually wound up in the rural town of Altus, Oklahoma. This was where Green and his siblings spent their formative years and life was anything but easy. They often subsisted on charitable donations of food and clothes. They however learned to be charitable as their parents were quite dignified and would often give their last to help out others.

He Founded His Billion-Dollar Empire Out of His Garage

David Green would readily tell anyone who cares to listen that it was God that called him to be a retailer and his story lends credence to this fact. As a young boy growing up in Altus, Green didn’t perform particularly well in his studies but felt at home while working as a stock boy at the general store in town. He consequently fell in love with the art of retailing and joined a variety store chain, TG & Y, in a full-time position. He would later work his way up to a managerial position at the same establishment.

Whilst doing this, Green also took out a loan of $600 and set up a venture assembling and selling miniature picture frames in his home garage. The business thrived from day one and Green recruited his wife and sons to help out. By 1972, they opened the first Hobby Lobby store, a 300-Square foot-space in Oklahoma City, and by 1975, Green left TG & Y to focus solely on his own business.

Today, Hobby Lobby now boasts of not less than 37,000 employees and 915 stores throughout America. They record up to $5.3 billion in sales annually and Green and his family retain almost 100% ownership.

Green Has Been Married For 60 Years and Has Three Children

A big part of David Green’s success is the fact that he had a supportive family system from the get-go, including his wife of nearly 60 years, Barbara. David met Barbara while he was still working as a lowly stock boy at a general store. They began dating and later tied the knot. Barbara was by her husband’s side when he started Hobby Lobby and as the business grew, she also helped out physically. Even though she was initially against his decision to quit his day job to focus on the company full-time, she nonetheless supported him and they are all the better for it. The couple now has a total of 10 grandkids and 16 great-grandkids from their three children; Mart, Steve, and Darsee.

All three are involved in the family business in leading capacities. Mart serves as the chief strategy officer of Hobby Lobby while Steve is the president of the company. Their sister, Darsee, is the vice-president of art and creativity in the company while her husband, Stan, is the executive vice-president of the company. Such a tightly-run ship means that the Greens has been able to stave off any buyout offers for years. Their patriarch has meanwhile revealed that his offspring won’t be turning into spoilt trust fund babies anytime soon. Hobby Lobby is structured in such a way that in case of dissolution or sale, 90% of the proceeds will go into ministry work while only 10% will be retained in a trust fund for the health and education of the Green family members.

David Green’s Museum of the Bible Has Been Mired in Allegations of Stolen and Fake Artefacts

David Green’s lifelong journey as a devout Christian means that he has used his wealth to acquire an enviable collection of bible antiquities consisting of handwritten scrolls, rare books, and ancient cuneiform tablets. At one point, his 44,000-strong artifact was the largest private collection in the world and he subsequently deployed the same to open a Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.

The museum came into existence in 2017 and attracts an impressive number of visitors. It has, however, been mired in several controversies. Following an investigation that dates back to 2010, it was alleged that thousands of the artifacts imported by Hobby Lobby were looted from countries such as Iraq and Egypt. This allegation later turned out to be true and the company agreed to return them. They also paid a fine of $3 million.

The company blamed the whole thing on the inexperience of their acquisitions process and then promised to put a new procedure in place. While the uproar over the smuggled artifacts was yet to die down, some persons alleged that fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls on display at the Bible Museum were fake. The museum initially denied this but later backtracked to say that only 5 out of 16 were fake. By 2020, they admitted that all the fragments were fake, something that did not do their credibility any favors.

Green and His Company Have Also Been Criticised For Their Opposition to Obamacare

Another issue that has drawn David Green and his company public ire is their opposition to some Obamacare provisions. Obamacare, which came into law in 2010, stipulates amongst other things that employers should provide their employees with health insurance coverage. Green and Hobby Lobby is not opposed to doing this for their staff but they have objected to including the morning-after pills in their own coverage plan as required by law.

This is because of their Christian belief which means that they view the pills as abortion-inducing pills. As can be predicted, such a stance was hugely unpopular with members of the public with many taking to social media to vent their anger. Green remained resolute though and sued the federal government in 2014. The Supreme Court gave a decision in his favor and exempted Hobby Lobby from providing the pills as it offends their religious beliefs.

Key Takeaways

  • David Green is the billionaire founder of the arts and crafts chain store, Hobby Lobby.
  • The son of a small-town preacher, he grew up in relative poverty. He subsequently went to work as a stock boy and worked his way up to a managerial position.
  • Whilst doing this, Green set up an arts and crafts assembling operation in his garage. From his garage, Hobby Lobby has grown into a multi-billion dollar empire.
  • Green uses his fortune to support his Christian causes.
  • He has been criticized for his company’s opposition to providing contraceptives under employee insurance.
  • His Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. has also been criticized for its involvement in stolen and fake artifacts.


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