Table of Contents:
- Brad Kelley, the farm boy with 1 million acres
- Incredibly deep pockets
- Brad Kelley is fourth on the list of private U.S. landholders. Most Americans have never heard of Kelley and that’s the way he wants it.
Brad Kelley has a million acres to play in. He privately owns 1 million acres of land in the United States — approximately 1,600 square miles of land. On the U.S. square mileage chart, that ranks Kelley above Rhode Island (1,584 square miles) and below Delaware (2,489 square miles).
Kelley, 55, Franklin, Tenn., is a billionaire that doesn’t care to shine. He shuns e-mail and avoids media interviews. Most Americans have never heard of Kelley and that’s the way he wants it. Raised on a Kentucky farm, he bought his first land (a farm) at age 17 and eventually made a fortune in discount cigarettes and tobacco after selling his business for about $1 billion.
Kelley owns land in Kentucky, Tennessee, New Mexico, Florida, Wyoming, and Texas. He’s a bit of an eccentric, but owning a million acres offers such latitude. Kelley sometimes wears a Scottish kilt, doesn’t hunt his land, and raises all sorts of exotic animals. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kelley doesn’t develop the land he buys and never planned on being a land giant. “I grew up on a farm and that’s about as good an explanation as there is. Land is something I know. It’s something I have an affinity for. It becomes part of your DNA.” That’s a tremendous chunk of DNA.
Combined, Kelley’s personal acreage dwarfs Yosemite National Park. He is fourth on the list of private U.S. landholders.
Who is ahead of Kelley?
Third: Archie Aldis Emmerson, timber baron, Sierra Pacific Industries — 1.8 million acres.
Second: Ted Turner, Turner Enterprises — 2.1 million acres.
First: John Malone, chairman, Liberty Media — 2.2 million acres.