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Entrepreneur Kicks of New York City Mayoral Campaign

Entrepreneur-turned-billionaire John Catsimatidis announced his candidacy in a press conference today.

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John Catsimatidis, entrepreneur-turned-billionaire and owner of the Gristedes grocery chain, announced his candidacy today for mayor of New York City in a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

The 64-year-old Greek-born, American business man, who now owns a corporate jet company, an oil refining company, and boasts an net work of $3 billion according to Forbes, got his start when he decided to stop pursuing a BS in electrical engineering at New York University to open a supermarket.

He reportedly borrowed $10,000 from his father--who was a waiter making less than $100 a week at the time--bought a store on the Upper West Side and opened for business in 1971 under the name Red Apple. In the first year it reportedly grossed $1.2 million, and by 1976, Red Apple was a chain of 12 Manhattan-based supermarkets.

In 1986, Red Apple purchased Gristede Borthers supermarkets and 11 affiliated Charles & Co. speciality food emporiums, which had been in the red for three years at the time, for $50 million. And by 1994, after purchasing another four supermarket chains, Red Apple's supermarkets were serving 37 percent of Manhattan's shoppers.

The announcement doesn't come as much of a surprise; Catsimatidis told Mother Jones last week that he had intentions to kick off his 2013 mayoral campaign this Tuesday.

He certainly isn't the first entrepreneur to run for office. Former California gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, who lost the Republican primary to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in 2010, founded SnapTrack. And, of course, there's New York's current mayor Michael Bloomberg, who started his financial data-services firm in 1981, which now rakes in revenues of just under $8 billion a year. 

Last updated: Jan 29, 2013

SAMUEL WAGREICH is a reporter for Inc.com. He covers tech industry culture and trends, entrepreneurship, and issues facing small businesses.
@swagreich




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