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Subway’s late cofounder donates his half of the chain to his foundation

Dr. Peter Buck, who cofounded the chain with Fred DeLuca, left his 50% ownership in the company to the charity he and his wife started more than 20 years ago.
Subway donation
Subway's cofounder donated his half of the chain to charity. / Photo courtesy of Subway.

The next time you get a Subway footlong, it will be for charity. 

Peter Buck, who cofounded the sandwich giant with Fred DeLuca in 1965 and kept a 50% stake in the brand as it became one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, has left that interest with the foundation he and his wife Carmen started in the late 1990s, according to a press release.

It’s a substantial gift. Subway is apparently exploring a sale that would value the chain at as much as $10 billion, which would mean that Buck’s donation is valued at $5 billion. Buck died in 2021 and had planned on the bequest to the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation (PCLB) for a decade.

“This gift will allow the foundation to greatly expand its philanthropic endeavors and impact many more lives, especially our work to create educational opportunities for all students, work Dr. Buck cared so deeply about,” Carrie Schindele, executive director of the foundation, said in a statement.

Buck, a nuclear physicist, loaned $1,000 in 1965 to help Fred DeLuca open a sandwich shop that became Subway. The brand operates more than 37,000 locations worldwide, more than any other chain outside of McDonald’s.

DeLuca died in 2015, leaving half of the company with his family. Buck’s death left the company with more ownership questions and the charitable donation could be the impetus for the company’s decision to explore a sale.

“As a privately held company, we don’t comment on ownership structure and business plans,” Subway said in a statement. “We continue to be focused on moving the brand forward with our transformational journey to help our franchisees be successful and profitable.”

The Bucks created their foundation in the 1990s and the PCLB first started making grants in 1999. The foundation donated $32.7 million in grants and scholarships last year, according to its website. Most of that, nearly $25 million, went for education.

The foundation’s mission is to give “motivated people the tools they need to help themselves.” The foundation also provides strategic guidance, professional connections, capacity building and other forms of assistance.

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