Domino's Pizza Founder: If It Weren't for My Faith, I'd Be Hugh Hefner

If it weren't for his faith, Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan said he'd be like Hugh Hefner right now, bathing in luxury after luxury.

At least that's what he told JSerra Catholic High School students in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday during a private speaking engagement that was also open to the community.

His message was simple: God had grounded him and made him realize there were far more important things in life than million-dollar cars, yachts, and sports teams, all of which he once owned and took pride in.

"The most important thing I [can] do is help people get to heaven," the pizza mogul said during the meeting, according to

His priorities were not always aligned, however, as they are now, especially when he began coming into large amounts of money with the success of his business – once a small, single pizza place in Ypsilanti, Mich., called DomiNick's Pizza.

Having built the business from the ground up, the former U.S. Marine eventually became a millionaire after decades of struggle to pay off creditors and settle lawsuits over royalties, living minimally to reduce costs.

When things began looking up during the 1980s, Monaghan "went a little overboard" and wholly embraced the materialistic lifestyle, indulging in fancy cars and yachts and buying things like his favorite baseball team – the Detroit Tigers.

But he woke up to his superficial lifestyle and stopped his splurges when he read a chapter on pride in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, which spoke about unhealthy goals and possessions – something he had plenty of.

He realized he had become the kind of person he never wanted to be.

Selling most of his big possessions, including his beloved team, Monaghan – who grew up in the Catholic orphanage – pledged to give away at least half of his possessions, signing Bill Gates' "Giving Pledge," and turned his focus to religious education and charity.

He also sold 93 percent of his share in Domino's to Bain Capital, Inc. in 1998 and dedicated his time to the church and pro-life causes.

"I came into the world penniless and as a Catholic Christian, I know that I cannot take any of it with me, so it has long been my desire to use the material resources that I have been blessed with to help others in the most meaningful ways possible," he wrote in his pledge. "I would not be living out my faith if I did not use the abundant resources God has given me to help others."

Convinced that the most important thing in the world was the eternal state of souls, the college dropout looked for ways to be effective in people's eternal lives.

"We Catholics have the cure for death," he shared with students as quoted by "Christ came to redeem us and help us get to heaven."

The best thing that he could do for people then was to help share that truth with others through the means of education.

Armed with new goals, Monaghan established several organizations and establishments like the Ave Maria Foundation, which focuses on Catholic education, media, community projects and charities, the Ave Maria School of Law, and the Ave Maria University, most of which are based in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich.

He also founded the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to the restoration and defense of the religious freedom of Christians, family values, and the sanctity of human life. The law firm calls itself the "Christian response to the ACLU."

Currently, he is working on a military themed hamburger delivery restaurant called Gyrene Burger, which has two locations in Florida. The new venture will support the Ave Maria foundation, providing scholarships for youth.

Finding Monaghan's story inspirational, Eric Stroupe, JSerra Catholic High School's vice principal for curriculum and instruction, told, "He had the humility to realize that his pride was getting in the way of really being fulfilled as a human being. It's something the students needed to hear."

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