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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Jan 3, 2022

With Denise Ilitch, President of Ilitch Enterprises


Have you ever wondered what it takes to be named one of Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women of the year? We’re about to find out!


My guest today, Denise Ilitch, is the President of Ilitch Enterprises, LLC, a division of Ilitch Holdings, the parent company that oversees Little Caesar Enterprises, as well Olympia Entertainment and the Fox Theatre. Denise’s family also owns and manages both the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers. Denise’s parents taught her from a very young age the value of hard work and community involvement. Committed to revitalizing the downtown area, the Ilitch family built a new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex called Little Caesars Arena, which is the cornerstone of The District Detroit. A tireless advocate for women and children, Denise is not only a business icon but also a lawyer, a philanthropist, a podcast host, a jewelry designer, a University of Michigan Regent, and a member of one of the most powerful and influential families in the country! Despite all of her achievements and accolades, Denise’s life has also been touched by tragedy. After struggling for years with addiction, her brother died from a drug overdose. Denise knows that the disease of addiction does not discriminate. She speaks candidly about her brother in the hope of educating and sparing others the pain her family experienced. She shares personal stories about her family, what’s next for her, and so much more!


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What was it like growing up the eldest of seven children in such an influential family?
  • How did Denise’s family decide to start a pizza company?
  • How did Denise’s parents balance work and family life?
  • What are the most important lessons Denise learned from her father?
  • What are some of the things Denise’s mom, Marian, has taught her?
  • What has the legacy of her family’s endeavors been like for Denise?
  • More about the Ilitch charities and the Little Caesars Love Kitchen.
  • How did the family come to own the Detroit Tigers?
  • Denise shares about her brother Ron’s disease and struggles.
  • What it’s like being a regent at the University of Michigan.
  • What’s next for Denise?
  • Denise talks about her podcast, “The Denise Ilitch Show.”
  • What is it like being a grandmother?
  • What does Denise think are the most pressing issues facing women today?
  • What would listeners be surprised to learn about Denise?
  • What does Denise like to do in her free time?


Today’s Takeaway: Being named one of Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women is a tremendous honor. Just as her mother was previously recognized for the very same award, Denise exemplifies what it means to be one of the city’s most influential women. She is an outstanding businesswoman, she’s an outstanding community leader, and she is someone who advocates tirelessly on behalf of others. Denise inherited a family legacy that’s been credited with rebuilding a major American city. She was taught the importance of giving back to the community and guards her family legacy with grace and dignity. She continues to inspire and provide leadership in business, philanthropy, and education. Denise uses her podcast as a platform to motivate and inform others. Her guests are people she admires for their confidence, their perseverance, and how they dealt with adversity. Every single day gives us gifts. My gift today is talking to Denise Ilitch! It’s an honor to speak to a wonderful woman who has done so much for herself, her family, her friends, and the city of Detroit. She is a role model for all of us. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”



  • “Being the oldest, I was almost like a second mom. I was given a lot of responsibility, which I think I probably still feel today.” — Denise
  • “The biggest lesson is to be kind to others, to be humble and to give back to the community, and to be confident.” — Denise
  • “What I really admire about my mom and that I’ve seen her do in the business is that she perseveres. She has enormous perseverance, failure is not really an option.” — Denise

Brought to You By:

Gardner White Furniture


Mentioned in This Episode:

Denise Ilitch Website

The Denise Ilitch Show

Ilitch Companies

Ilitch Holdings

Little Caesars

Olympia Entertainment

313 Presents

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Tigers

Love Kitchen

Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women

The University of Michigan Board of Regents

The District Detroit