Woody Johnson

Woody Johnson
Personal details
Born Robert Wood Johnson IV
(1947-04-12) April 12, 1947
New Brunswick, New Jersey,
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Sale (1977–2001)
Suzanne Ircha (2009–present)
Children 5 (including Casey)
Parents Bobby Johnson
Alma mater University of Arizona (BA)

Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV (born April 12, 1947) is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is a great-grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson), and the owner of the New York Jets of the National Football League.[1][2]

Early life

Johnson was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States. His father was Robert Wood Johnson III, president of Johnson & Johnson for four years, and his mother is Betty Wold Johnson. Johnson grew up with four siblings: Keith Johnson, Billy Johnson, Elizabeth "Libet" Johnson, and Christopher Wold Johnson. He grew up in affluent areas of North New Jersey, and attended the Millbrook School. He graduated from the University of Arizona. Johnson then worked menial summer jobs at Johnson & Johnson with the expectation of ascending to the top of the family business.[3]


Johnson became involved in charitable organizations full-time in the 1980s. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His family has been affected by both lupus and juvenile diabetes, which motivated Johnson to take a role in raising funds to prevent, treat, and cure autoimmune diseases. He has led efforts on Capitol Hill and at the National Institutes of Health to increase research funding for lupus, diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases,[4] and personally contributed to causes related to diabetes, after his daughter Casey was diagnosed with the disease. He also started a research foundation, the Alliance for Lupus Research, after his daughter Jaime was found to have lupus.[5]

On January 18, 2000, Johnson purchased the Jets for $635 million, the third-highest price for a professional sports team and the highest for one in New York. Johnson, who also owns courtside seats to the New York Knicks, outbid the $612 million offered by Charles Dolan, chairman of Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and the Rangers. The team sold for more than $100 million above what some sports finance analysts had expected. Forbes now values the team at $1.8 billion.[6]

After buying the Jets, Johnson announced plans to move them to the proposed West Side Stadium in Manhattan. However, after the project's defeat in 2005, Johnson announced the Jets would move to a new Meadowlands Stadium (opening day 10 April 2010) as an equal partner with the Giants. Johnson served on the NFL Commissioner search committee in which a list of 185 candidates to succeed Paul Tagliabue was narrowed down to the final choice of Roger Goodell.

Johnson is the chairman and chief executive of the Johnson Company, Inc., a private investment firm founded in 1978. In August 2006, Johnson was asked to testify before a Senate panel about his participation in a sham tax shelter. A Senate report said that Johnson, along with others, were able to buy, for relatively small fees, roughly $2 billion in capital losses that they used to erase taxable gains they garnered from stock sales. The U.S. Treasury lost an estimated $300 million in revenue as a result. In a statement, Johnson said he had been advised by his lawyers in 2000 that the transaction "was consistent with the Tax Code." But after the Internal Revenue Service challenged that view in 2003, Johnson this year "settled with the IRS and agreed to pay 100 percent of the tax due plus interest."[7]

Johnson was the committee president for Pre-Commissioning Unit for the USS New York (LPD-21).[8]

Personal life

In 1977, Johnson married former fashion model Nancy Sale Johnson. They had three children: Casey, Jaime, and Daisy, before divorcing in 2001. In early 2010, Casey died of diabetic ketoacidosis.[9]

In 2009, Johnson married Suzanne Ircha Johnson, a former actress and equities managing director at Sandler O'Neill & Partners.[10][11] They have two children: Robert Wood Johnson V and Jack Wood Johnson.

Johnson has homes in Bedminster Township, New Jersey and New York.[12]


Johnson has given more than $1 million to various Republican candidates and committees. In May 2008, he orchestrated a fundraiser in New York City that brought in $7 million in a single evening for John McCain, by far the largest amount collected up to that point by a campaign that had been struggling to raise money. Johnson also provided significant funding to the Republican National Convention of 2008 in Minneapolis-St. Paul convention host committee; from a $10 million shortfall, Johnson contributed personally and solicited friends to assist in covering the convention deficit.[13] In 2011, Woody Johnson announced that he would endorse former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election.[14]

On September 23, 2013, Johnson hosted a fundraiser for the Republican National Committee at his home in New York City.[15]

Johnson was named the National Finance Chairman for Governor Jeb Bush's 2016 Presidential campaign. However, in May 2016, he endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States.[16]


  1. "Sale Johnson and Ahmad Rashad Get Married Monday". Transworldnews.com. 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  2. Richard Sandomir (January 12, 2000). "Philanthropist and Fan". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-23. Robert Wood Johnson IV, whose great-grandfather founded Johnson & Johnson, won the right yesterday to buy the Jets for $635 million, the third-highest price for a professional sports team and the most for one in New York.
  3. Wilson, Duff (November 11, 2004). "Behind the Jets, a Private Man Pushes His Dream". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-10. He grew up in affluent areas of New Jersey, attended the elite Millbrook School in the Hudson Valley and worked menial summer jobs at Johnson & Johnson with the expectation of ascending to the top of the family business.
  4. "Board of Directors". Alliance for Lupus Research. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  5. Halligan, Tom. "NY Jets' Woody Johnson Shares Insights At LCT Show East". LCT. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  6. "New York Jets Team Value". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  7. Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. (2006-08-01). "Tax Shelters Saved Billionaires a Bundle". The Washington Post.
  8. "Coroner: Casey Johnson died of natural causes - CNN.com". CNN. 2010-02-04.
  9. "Wall Street firms vow to rebuild". USA Today. 2002-01-25.
  10. "The Hollywood Gossip - Celebrity Gossip and Entertainment News". Bittenandbound.com. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  11. Sandomir, Richard (January 12, 2000). "The Jets Fill One Opening: New Owner at $635 Million". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-10. Johnson, who is 52 years old, has homes in Manhattan and Bedminster, N.J.
  12. Luo, Michael (2008-09-05). "Convention Limelight Shines on a Big Donor". The New York Times.
  13. Haberman, Maggie (2011-11-11). "Woody Johnson says Chris Christie's Mitt Romney endorsement a game-changer". Politico.
  14. "GOP stars to headline party fundraiser". CNN. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  15. Cosentino, Dom (May 24, 2016). "Jets owner Woody Johnson backs Donald Trump, per reports". nj.com. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
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