Most people have heard of Shoe Carnival and the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. But what they don't realize is that there's a link between the two.

Jaguar fans have high hopes for their new first-time NFL head coach, Urban Meyer. Meyer proved his mettle in the NCAA. Shahid Khan is now the majority owner of the NFL franchise. But it got its start thanks to J. Wayne Weaver. 

An ultra-rich man buying an NFL franchise might not seem so spectacular. But the story of how Wayne Weaver gathered his riches is nothing less than impressive. And, he did it without a college education using nothing more than grit and determination. To this day, he's the Chairman of the Board at Shoe Carnival. Plus, he's on the Forbes Billionaire List.

Let's see how he did it.

Wayne Weaver's Family

Weaver has proven that it is possible to succeed beyond your idea of what's reasonable to expect. He could have given up when he was a struggling shoe salesman. But Wayne decided to dedicate himself to his craft, and it paid off big time. Wayne will be the first to tell you, though, he couldn't have done it without his wife, Deloris Barr Weaver

The pair married when he was just 20, and she was only 18. Their life together was new, and their expectations were not all that great. The pair's initial goal was to make a combined $10,000 a year and buy a modest $30,000 home. For seven years, the couple worked their jobs until the first of their two children was born. Then, Deloris stayed home to take care of the baby and the household.

Wayne continued to work as a struggling shoe salesman at first. But his tenacity sent him flying up through the ranks in his company. Eventually, he became the CEO of shoe giant Nine West. Ultimately, he became Chairman of the Board at Shoe Carnival in 1988. A few years later, he found himself in the position to invest in something that the city of Jacksonville had waited a long time for – an NFL franchise.

The Jacksonville Jaguars 

The Jacksonville Jaguars got their start as a fledgling NFL franchise in late 1993. Weaver was the first majority owner of the team. He owned the NFL franchise until selling it in 2016 for an estimated $770 million. 

Shoe Carnival Owner of Jags

Creating Change

It has been five years now since Weaver officially gave up the owner's box of the Jacksonville Jaguars. But his presence in the city is now felt more than ever before. The Weavers set up a charitable organization called the Jaguars Foundation. Through the Foundation, they've donated about $15 million to a variety of community causes. 

Of course, their generosity started well before the sale of the team. Since 2007, they have given The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida an estimated $135 million. The Weavers' generosity has touched and helped develop everything from the arts, schools, hospitals, and zoos. They've also helped the homeless and senior citizens in Jacksonville.

"I always believed that people who have the wherewithal have a responsibility to make a difference."

Delores Weaver

Wayne Weaver, now 82, talks about his hometown, saying, "I think we're (Jacksonville) on the cusp of breaking through becoming one of the great middle-market cities in the country." 

Wayne Weaver’s not the only big name in business to come out of Jacksonville, FL. This guy, nicknamed the Millionaire Maker calls the First Coast home, too.

Shoe Carnival Shows Some Soul

While the Weavers' giving record is phenomenal, Wayne's direction of Shoe Carnival is equally inspiring. According to, Weaver led the charge for all the top executives at Shoe Carnival to take drastic pay cuts during COVID-19. This allowed full-time employees to count on a paycheck while the country locked down due to the pandemic. 

Shoe Carnival CEO Cliff Sifford said, "At the same time, we are taking decisive actions to manage costs across the company, which includes salary and discretionary expense reductions. While these are tough decisions, we believe they are necessary for the long-term success of Shoe Carnival." 

The cuts and cost-saving measures lasted until Shoe Carnival reopened 50% of their retail stores. That gesture was more than incredible, considering that Shoe Carnival decided to shutter 100% of their retail stores to help slow the spread of the virus and keep their workers safe. 

Wayne Weaver's Net Worth

Weaver is number 2,674 on the Forbes Billionaire List with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. Not too shabby for a man who once had a goal of only making a combined $10,000 a year with his wife, living in a modest $30,000 house. The couple still lives in the home they bought when he became the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 1993. The price tag then was $10 million

Wayne Weaver is not only a billionaire and a great leader, but he is also proof that thinking and acting big leads to success. He is the definition of living the American Dream.