How North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum Really Made His Money

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum may not be as well known as his fellow Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, but that doesn't mean he isn't just as successful. Burgum is a highly conservative figure who got his political start in 2016 when he threw his name into the North Dakota governor's race, according to The New York Times. Many didn't believe Burgum stood a chance against his Republican opponent, Wayne Stenehjem, who was a more well-known figure in the state. Surprisingly, Burgum won the election not only because of his political stance, but also partly because of the millions of dollars of his own money he contributed to his campaign.

While many would consider Burgum's politics too far to the right, he thinks the American people could benefit from him holding the highest office in the nation. In June, the North Dakota governor announced his bid for the presidency, per NPR. He said, "We need a change in the White House. We need a new leader for a changing economy. That's why I'm announcing my run for president today." 

Although Burgum's announcement didn't gain wide attention, it would be unfair to count him out, especially since there's no doubt he will use his financial success to increase his popularity. But how did the North Dakota governor become so wealthy? Well, we're here to fill you in on how Burgum truly made his money.

Doug Burgum created a software empire

Doug Burgum is living a dream come true, as he went from being a normal kid in North Dakota to an incredibly wealthy businessman. He grew up in Arthur, North Dakota which, as of 2023, has a population of 317 people, according to World Population Review! But Burgum always had a business mindset. He told Forbes he started a chimney business his senior year of college, which led him to land a spot at Stanford's business school.

Stanford seemed to teach Burgum a thing or two about becoming successful, as he invested in the software engineering company Great Plains Software in 1983. He shared, "After graduating from Stanford business school, I was working at McKinsey, crunching numbers for spreadsheets. One of my workmates said, 'Check this out.' He hits this thing and his Apple II chugs away for, like, four minutes, and it recalculates a simple spreadsheet. I looked at that and knew it would change everything." Burgum took a big risk by investing in the company that could have caused him to lose his family's farm — but luckily everything worked out.

After working to create a well-established software company, Burgum sold Great Plains Software to Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1 billion, and he wasn't done. Per Forbes,he was also an early investor in the software company SuccessFactors, which later sold for $3.4 billion! Burgum definitely has a knack for turning small businesses into billion-dollar success stories.

Doug Burgum is using his wealth to fund his 2024 presidential campaign

Doug Burgum might be the underdog in the 2024 Republican presidential race, but he's still coming in strong. The North Dakota governor has one major factor that could potentially gain him some support, and that's his wealth. According to NBC News, Burgum leads the board when it comes to spending the most money on ads. The political candidate entered the race on June 7, 2023, and by June 21, 2023, he had already become the top ad spender amongst his opponents, with $2.9 million spent.

And it hasn't just been his advertisements that have allowed him to gain more followers. According to CBS News, Burgum offered a $20 gift card to those who donated just $1 to his campaign. For the North Dakota governor, it wasn't about making money but gaining more support for his presidential campaign.

These tactics seem extreme, especially since it's just the beginning, but Burgum had no choice. He isn't the most well-known Republican candidate and in order to qualify for the first Republican presidential debate, you must have "40,000 individual donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state, as well as poll at 1% in three RNC-sanctioned polls, or 1% in two other national polls and two polls from key states," according to CBS News. With Burgum's financial tactics, he was able to meet this requirement, as he's set to join the first Republican presidential debate on August 23.