A Kentuckian (Who You Maybe Never Have Heard of) Owns the Fourth Most Land in the U.S.
A low-key Kentuckian is among the nation's top landowners.
That's the word from The Land Report, a magazine for and about people who, well, own land.
The Land Report has recently ranked the "100 Largest Landowners in the U.S."—that is, the 100 people who own the most land in the nation.
No. 4 on the list is Brad Kelley.
Kelley was born and raised in the Bowling Green area and made a fortune in cigarette manufacturing, according to reports. Since then, he's been the largest shareholder in Churchill Downs and the owner of the Lonely Planet travel guide publisher. His net worth is $2 billion (give or take), Forbes said.
He also leases the historic Calumet Farm in Lexington. This year, a Calumet horse won a Triple Crown race—Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes—for the first time since 1968.
He also owns 1.5 million acres of land, according to The Land Report.
Kelley doesn't do many interviews, but he talked to The Wall Street Journal about land last year.
"I grew up on a farm and that's about as good an explanation as there is," he told The Journal. "Land is something I know. It's something I have an affinity for. It becomes part of your DNA."
He looks for good deals on cattle ranches in out-of-the-way places he thinks are undervalued, and holds on to them. He likes to buy adjoining parcels because it's more efficient to operate a ranch in large blocks and because it tends to be easier to buy property when it's right next door: He already knows what he's buying and what the seller is like. And he doesn't develop the land he buys: "We don't try to inject our way of doing things on other folks," he says.
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