Jacqueline Mars, born on October 10, 1939, is an American heiress and investor known for her ties to the iconic Mars, Incorporated, the American candy company founded by her family. As of October 2022, she was ranked as the 22nd richest person globally by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. In Forbes' annual ranking of the world's richest women in 2023, Jacqueline Mars was estimated to possess a fortune worth $38.3 billion, securing her the fourth position.
Jacqueline Mars received her early education at Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She had a lifelong passion for equestrian activities and participated in numerous horse shows during her youth. In 1961, she graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in anthropology, highlighting her diverse interests and dedication to education.
Jacqueline Mars is a member of the Mars family, the visionary founders of Mars, Incorporated, and she holds shares in the company. Her shares and other family assets were valued by Forbes at $23.5 billion in January 2019, ranking her as the 18th richest American and 34th on the list of "The World's Billionaires." She played an active role in Mars, Inc. from 1982 when she assumed the position of food product group president. Her dedication to the family business continued until her retirement in 2001.
In June 2019, Forbes recognised Jacqueline Mars as the wealthiest resident of Virginia, estimating her net worth at $28.1 billion. Her legacy in the Mars family business is evident, as she continues to be a significant figure in the world of business and philanthropy.
In addition to her accomplishments in business and equestrian pursuits, Jacqueline Mars is a notable philanthropist. She is a trustee of the U.S. Equestrian Team and owns a working organic farm that is protected in perpetuity by the Land Trust of Virginia. Her commitment to preserving American heritage extends to her position on the board of directors for both the Washington National Opera and the National Sporting Library and Fine Arts Museum.
Mars is also a member of the National Advisory Council of the Journey through Hallowed Ground, a foundation dedicated to promoting American heritage in the region stretching from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson situated just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Her contributions to the League of Conservation Voters demonstrate her commitment to environmental preservation.
Recognising her profound contributions to heritage and culture, Jacqueline Mars received the inaugural Heritage Award from the Foundation for the National Archives, highlighting her dedication to preserving and celebrating the historical legacy of the United States.
Despite her success, Jacqueline Mars faced a significant challenge in 2013. On October 4, she was involved in a car crash on U.S. Route 50 in Aldie, near her home in The Plains, Northern Virginia. The accident was tragic, resulting in the loss of life and a miscarriage. Mars was charged with reckless driving after her vehicle crossed the highway centre line and struck a Chrysler minivan carrying six passengers. She later revealed that she had fallen asleep at the wheel.
In the aftermath of the incident, Jacqueline Mars pled guilty to the misdemeanour charge of reckless driving, with subsequent tests revealing that no drugs, alcohol, or medications had contributed to the accident.
Jacqueline Mars's life story is a testament to her family's legacy, her passion for equestrian pursuits, and her unwavering commitment to preserving American heritage. Her philanthropic efforts and dedication to cultural institutions have made her an influential figure in various realms, and despite challenges, she remains a resilient and impactful individual.