The billionaire co-founder of Home Depot has claimed Americans are too “lazy, fat and stupid” to work hard and that socialism is to blame.
Bernie Marcus, 93, told The Financial Times that he was “worried about capitalism” in the United States, and that the responsibility lay with bureaucrats, human resource departments, Joe Biden and “the woke people”, among others.
“Capitalism is the basis of Home Depot, millions of people have earned this success and had success,” Mr Marcus told The Financial Times in an interview published on Thursday. “I’m talking manufacturers, vendors and distributors and people that work for us (who have been) able to enrich themselves by the journey of Home Depot. That’s the success. That’s why capitalism works.”
Mr Marcus launched Home Depot in Atlanta in 1979 with fellow-co-founder Arthur Blank, eventually building it into the largest home improvement retailer in the world with 2300 stores in the US.
The barriers to entrepreneurial success in America had become so great that had they tried to start the business in 2022, they would have ended up with only 15 or 16 stores, he told The FT.
Mr Marcus, who has an estimated net worth of $8.9bn, said in the interview that “socialism” was now why “nobody works, nobody gives a damn”.
“‘Just give it to me. Send me money. I don’t want to work — I’m too lazy, I’m too fat, I’m too stupid’,” he told The FT.
Mr Marcus donated millions of dollars to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2019 he was backing his bid for reelection.
The comments led to an online campaign calling for a boycott of Home Depot, leading Mr Trump to tweet: “Fight for Bernie Marcus and Home Depot!”.
Mr Marcus, who retired from the company in 2002, complained in his latest interview that his right to free speech had been impeded.
“The woke people have taken over the world,” he told The FT. “You know, I imagine today they can’t attack me. I’m 93. Who gives a crap about Bernie Marcus?”
Mr Marcus, who has co-authored a new book Kick Up Some Dust, has donated more than $2bn to over 300 charitable causes through his Marcus Foundation.
The Independent has attempted to contact Mr Marcus for further comment.