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50% of the Subway Sandwich Chain Now Belongs to Charity

Co-founder Dr. Peter Buck planned out this final donation well over a decade ago.

A $1,000 donation made in 1965 is about to pay some serious dividends for educators today. It was revealed earlier this week that Dr. Peter Buck, the late co-founder of the mega-successful Subway restaurants chain, donated his 50% ownership of the brand to charity.

The late Dr. Buck passed away in November 2021, but his will states his half of the Subway empire will be donated to the philanthropic organization that he co-founded in 1999 with his wife: The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation Inc.

The PCLB Foundation's mission statement is to "give motivated people the tools they need to help themselves." The foundation awards a number of grants, with an emphasis on K-12 public education in the New York and Connecticut areas, but also supports various additional environmental, medical, and journalistic efforts and organizations as well. In the Foundation's own words, PCLB "looks to support the highest quality organizations that show initiative, leadership, and innovation in solving issues that impact individuals and communities."

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"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 PCLB, said in a press release.

The juggernaut sandwich brand we all know as Subway today never would have happened without Dr. Buck. Back in 1965, a then 17-year-old Fred DeLuca approached Dr. Buck, a family friend and nuclear physicist, looking for advice on how to pay for college. The pair devised a plan for DeLuca to open a local sub-shop in Connecticut and Dr. Buck donated $1,000 to the new business.

peter buck subway
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The rest, as they say, is sandwich history—and the DeLuca and Buck families have remained friends and business partners ever since. Per the Foundation's press release, Dr. Buck had planned out this final, massive donation well over a decade ago as the final component of his plan to "build PCLB into an institution designed to promote the best qualities of human nature".

News of Dr. Buck's posthumous donation comes at an interesting time for the sandwich chain. Last month The Wall Street Journal reported Subway is quietly exploring a potential sale of the company. Considering Subway boasts over 35,000 restaurants all over the world, and brought in $9.4 billion in U.S. sales alone in 2021, there will be no shortage of interested parties ranging from private-equity firms to possible corporate buyers.

The iconic sandwich chain is expected to be valued at over $10 billion. That means if a sale does occur, the PCLB Foundation may receive around $5 billion. Not a bad return on Dr. Buck's initial $1,000 investment in Subway.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John