Many people will tell you that it doesn’t matter which vodka you choose, thanks to the spirit’s neutral character, but sales numbers suggest otherwise. As the figures tell it, people are pretty darn particular about their vodka and, more often than not, they’re calling for Tito’s. The cult of Tito’s Handmade Vodka has grown far beyond its hometown of Austin, Texas, and now the founder (and the ultimate example of nominative determinism) Bert “Tito” Beveridge is one of the richest people in America.
A new member of The Forbes 400, a list of the richest people in America, Beveridge is worth $2.5 billion, thanks to his beloved corn-based vodka. According to Forbes, Tito’s sold around 45 million bottles last year and is projected to sell 58 million this year.
The sole owner of the company, Beveridge started out as an aspiring horse trainer before earning a degree in geology and geophysics, which led him to the oil and gas industry and then, eventually, real estate. It wasn’t until the early ‘90s that he got into the hobby of making flavored vodkas, which he gave to friends as gifts. When the market collapsed in the late ‘90s, he turned his hobby into a full-time gig, and in 2001, his vodka won the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. A cult-vodka-turned-nationwide-favorite was born. And now Beveridge is one very, very rich man.
But he’s not just splurging on private jets or solid gold Moscow Mule mugs. Beveridge is actually using his massive success to do good. His Vodka for Dog People initiative works with groups like Emancipet to help spay and neuter animals, and generally make veterinary care more affordable for pet owners. Tito’s also donates all of the proceeds from its online store to nonprofits like the American Red Cross, American Homefront and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The company also recently matched donations to the American Red Cross in order to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. So you can feel good about how much Tito’s you’re buying, which is a lot.