Stabenow Pays Tribute to Detroit Entrepreneur Mike Ilitch in Official Congressional Record

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) paid tribute to Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars Pizza and owner of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers.

Text of her remarks in the Congressional Record:

M. President

I rise today to honor a champion for Detroit and for Michigan, Mike Ilitch. Everyone from Michigan knows his life story: the son of Macedonian immigrants, he founded Little Caesars Pizza, one of the largest pizza chains in the world, and rebuilt both the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings into world class, winning franchises.  He led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups, and brought the Tigers to the World Series twice.

The story of Mike Ilitch is the story of never doing anything halfway. He embodies the American dream: he served as a marine, built a business empire, and had an eye for perfection that led him to incredible success.

For him though, it wasn’t enough to be satisfied with success in business or sports; it was all about giving back. He said it himself: “I was raised in Detroit. I came from zero. This community helped make me. It’s nice to give something back.”

He loved Detroit, and worked to revitalize the city while maintaining its cultural history. His company, Olympia Entertainment, purchased the Fox Theater and restored it in 1988. He built Comerica Park, home to the Tigers. His recent forty million dollar donation to the Wayne State University School of Business will help build their state-of-the-art facility on Woodward Avenue, next to the new home of the Red Wings and the Pistons, “Little Caesars Arena.”

Detroit is better off because of the work that he did.

And the people of Detroit are better off because of his work. From his philanthropic organization that has given to those in need, and the program he started through Little Caesars that helps honorably discharged veterans get employed, Mike Ilitch gave people a chance to succeed and to thrive.

Mike will be sorely missed by all of us. His legacy is shared by his loving wife of over 61 years, Marian, and his seven children, but it is also shared by everyone in Michigan and all of those who love Detroit.

Thank You.