DETROIT (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who founded the Little Caesars Pizza empire, has died. He was 87.
Family spokesman Doug Kuiper says Ilitch died Friday at a hospital.
Ilitch and his wife opened their first Little Caesars restaurant in suburban Detroit in 1959, and the business eventually grew into the world’s largest carry-out pizza chain.
Ilitch paid a reported $8 million for the Detroit Red Wings 1982, and the team won at least four championships under his ownership.
A decade later, Ilitch paid $85 million for the Detroit Tigers and began pumping money into player salaries. The Tigers advanced to the World Series in 2006, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Former President George W. Bush released a statement on the passing of Ilitch:
“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend, Mike Ilitch. Mike was a great citizen of our country, a self-made man with talent, drive, and a huge heart. My favorite memories with Mike are of our discussions about our shared love, baseball. Another of Mike’s passions was his beloved Detroit. He generously gave back to his city and made it a better place. Most of all, Mike loved his family a lot. Tonight, Laura and I hold Marian and the entire Ilitch family in our thoughts and prayers, and we send them our heartfelt condolences.”
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)