Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jon Huntsman Sr. Discusses New Book, Barefoot to Billionaire

Whittney Evans

Jon Huntsman Sr. Spoke today for the first time about his new autobiography, Barefoot to Billionaire, Reflections on a Life’s Work and a Promise to Cure Cancer.

Speaking to reporters at the Deseret Book headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City, Huntsman described his life as a series of lucky breaks and tragedies.

The billionaire’s book recounts how he built a manufacturing empire from a modest upbringing in rural Idaho and dedicated much of his wealth to charity.

Huntsman has contributed more than $1 billion dollars to organizations in Utah alone and founded the Huntsman cancer Institute, which will soon get a $100 million expansion to focus on childhood cancers.

Huntsman says all of his work is dedicating to improving lives.

“I really believe in my heart that Utah will become the research capital of the world,” Huntsman says. “I believe that this state will become the preeminent spot where research, medical research will be farmed out to other countries. We’re beginning to do that now.”

Huntsman says he’s concerned about his own personal health and that one of his goals in life was to finish this book, which he’s been working on for 30 years with the help of former Salt Lake Tribune Editor Jay Shelledy.

The book does not shy from difficult moments in his life, including the death of Huntsman’s daughter, Kathleen in 2010, the kidnapping of their son James in 1987 and how the family faced potential bankruptcy.

When asked about his intentions to buy the Salt Lake Tribune, Huntsman only said the community should be represented by at least two voices and there should not be an exclusive voice from a political party, religious organization or any special interest group. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.