The billionaire who founded NYC's biggest grocery chain after immigrating to America as an infant explains his support for Trump - and why he thinks the US should build a wall

John Catsimatidis

John Catsimatidis built a fortune operating a New York City-area grocery chain after his parents brought him to the United States from Greece as a baby. That hasn't stopped him from becoming an immigration hard-liner.

"I want immigration," Catsimatidis said in an interview with Bloomberg's Hailey Waller. "But let's take people who are going to help our country get better, versus people who want to hurt us. You can't solve the world's problems. We don't want the drug addicts, we don't want the people who are renting children to cross the border."Advertisement

"Trump has stood up against the problem at the borders," Catsimatidis said. "Build a wall."

Catsimatidis, 70, entered the grocery business as a part-time cashier while attending New York University and purchased his first grocery store in 1969, according to Forbes. Catsimatidis' supermarket chain, Gristedes Foods, is the largest supermarket chain in New York City. He also owns an oil refinery and a radio station, according to Forbes. His net worth is $3.1 billion, Forbes estimates.

The comments were not Catsimatidis' first foray into politics. Once a Democrat, Catsimatidis ran for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013, according to Bloomberg. Catsimatidis also said he's open to assisting Trump's 2020 campaign. "I'm here to help," he told Bloomberg.

Read more: The billionaire cofounder of Home Depot plans on donating up to 90% of his $5.9 billion fortune, and Trump's 2020 campaign will be one of the beneficiaries

Catsimatidis' comments echoed those made by President Trump on the campaign trail in 2015. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said, Business Insider previously reported. "They're sending people that have a lot of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."Advertisement

However, data shows that instances of violent crime actually decrease as immigration levels rise, Business Insider previously reported.

Catsimatidis' daughter Andrea has also been vocal about her support for the president. The self-described "billionaire heiress" faced criticism online after appearing on CNN in January to defend the government shutdown, she told New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi in July. Andrea has served as the chair of the Manhattan Republican Party since 2017.

Catsimatidis isn't the only billionaire to express support for the president in recent weeks. Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he planned to donate to the Trump's reelection campaign in July, sparking protests of the home improvement retailer. Equinox, SoulCycle, and Hudson Yards also faced backlash after a report that the chairman of their parent company, Stephen Ross, planned to hold a fundraiser for the campaign.Advertisement

Read the full interview with Catsimatidis on Bloomberg »