Billionaire Howard Schultz Annoyed About Being Called a Billionaire

  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was offended at being called a billionaire during a Senate hearing.
  • “Yes, I have billions of dollars. I earned it. No one gave it to me,” Schultz said. 
  • The Senate on Wednesday probed Starbucks’ treatment of unionized employees.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is worth $3.7 billion, was incensed when he was labeled a billionaire during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, referred to Schultz as a billionaire several times during the hearing. The Senate committee was probing Starbucks’ treatment of unionized employees.

“But even if he is a multi-billionaire and the head of a giant corporation, he is not entitled to break the law,” Sanders said in his opening remarks, referring to Schultz.

Schultz called the lawmakers’ characterization of his wealth “unfair.”

“I grew up in federally subsidized housing, my parents never owned a home. I came from nothing. I thought my entire life was based on the achievement of the American Dream,” Schultz said. 

“Yes, I have billions of dollars,” Schultz added. “I earned it. No one gave it to me.”

But Sanders cut Schultz off, saying that the committee did not have time for the matter.


Schultz, was the chairman and CEO of Starbucks from 1987 to 2000, from 2008 to 2018, and as interim CEO from 2022 to 2023. He is worth $3.7 billion, per Forbes as of Wednesday.

The hearing came after a court ruling in New York on March 1. The New York court ruled that Starbucks had violated labor laws by illegally monitoring and firing workers in Buffalo and preventing them from unionizing.

The New York ruling found that Starbucks promised benefits to workers who would try to weaken support for the union, and disciplined and fired employees involved in union organizing, per The New York Times.

Schultz maintained during the Senate hearing that, in his opinion, Starbucks has never broken labor laws and that working at the coffee chain is “the best first job in America.”

He said that the treatment of his workers, with their hourly wages of $17.50 and the health benefits and stock options they are provided, was “unprecedented.”

“That’s why Starbucks doesn’t need a union,” Schultz said.

Indian-American businessman Laxman Narasimhan succeeded Schultz as CEO earlier in March, per CNBC.

Representatives for Starbucks and the Schultz Family Foundation did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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