How a former gym teacher became North Dakota's first and only billionaire

A former high school gym teacher, Gary Tharaldson, has become North Dakota’s first and only billionaire. He shared his success story on FOX Business’ “Varney & Co.” on Monday.

Tharaldson said before it all started he developed a good work ethic while he was employed at a farm during his high school years where he earned $50 a month, including room and board. He then got into the insurance business, which he believes “really changed my life.”

“I developed a really positive attitude about things and in trying to be the best you can be. And that this accelerated everything and then eventually I got into the motel business when I was 37 years old and the rest is history,” he told Ashley Webster.

In the early 80s, Tharaldson purchased a Super 8 motel, according to Forbes, and began to quickly expand.


“I bought the first one in February, second one in May,” he said. “The first one we built was in a year … Then the following year we did two. Then the next year we did five, and then there was a slowdown for a while and then we got rolling again and by … 1992 I built about 10 percent of all of them in the U.S.”