UK

Who Is Woody Johnson? Trump Hints Johnson & Johnson Heir Will Be US Ambassador To Britain

He's been a family friend of the Trumps for years.

20/01/2017 11:01 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 11:10 GMT

President-elect Donald Trump appears to have announced that billionaire New York Jets owner Woody Johnson will become the next ambassador to Britain.

Trump was speaking at a luncheon in Washington when he introduced a guest as “sitting next to the ambassador Woody Johnson, going to Saint James.”

Trump said, “Congratulations, Woody.”

Michael Adamucci via Getty Images
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is expected to be the next US ambassador to Britain

The appointment has not been formally announced, but Johnson is considered a favourite for the job. The 69-year-old has no experience in government or as a diplomat.

Here are five things to know about the billionaire businessman and philanthropist... 

  • He is heir to the Johnson & Johnson company
    Jeff Chiu/AP
    He is the great-grandson of the founder of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical and personal hygiene products company. As of last year, Forbes valued the company at $312.6bn
  • He owns the New York Jets
    Rich Schultz via Getty Images
    He purchased the Jets in 2000 and the team has perennially underachieved in the National Football League. But what it lacks in performance, it has made up in investment terms. He bought the team for $635m and it is now valued at three times that amount by Forbes.  

    NBC has previously reported that if Trump chose Johnson as British ambassador, his younger brother, Christopher Wold Johnson, would take over day-to-day operation of the Jets. The future ambassador is expected to continue to own the team.
  • He originally backed Trump rival Jeb Bush in the GOP primary
    Matt Rourke/AP
    He served as his campaign finance manager until Bush dropped out of the presidential primary. While Johnson was working on Bush’s behalf, Trump lashed his foe for taking “special interest” donor money and indicated that Johnson’s fundraising would influence Bush’s positions on prescription drug policies.  

    Johnson was also a member of Mitt Romeny’s fund-raising team in 2012, famously claiming he would rather Romney win the presidency than the Jets have a winning season. Neither occurred.
  • He is a long-term friend of the Trump family
    Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
    Trump and Johnson’s children went to school together and the men have known each other for 30 years.

    Johnson donated $349,000 to Trump Victory, which divided donations among Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and state Republican parties. He began endorsing Trump in May and in November he was named as finance chair of Trump’s inaugural committee.  

    Johnson lives in New York City but also has a $7m home in Bedminster, New Jersey, overlooking the Trump National Golf Club.

    Johnson and his wife Suzanne Ircha are pictured at his birthday 'wig party' with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007.
  • He lost his daughter Casey Johnson
    Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
    Johnson’s socialite daughter Casey was found dead at her home in Los Angeles in 2010.  

    Johnson had been an insulin-dependent diabetic since childhood and a month before she died announced she was engaged to bisexual reality TV star Tila Tequila.  

    The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office later announced that she had died of diabetic ketoacidosis.  

    Despite rumours the pair had become estranged over Casey’s wild lifestyle, Johnson was reportedly left “devastated” by his daughter’s death.