Wayne Huizenga Jr. has lead a privileged life. His father is the only person in history to build three Fortune 1000 companies (Waste Management, Blockbuster Entertainment and AutoNation) nearly from scratch, develop six NYSE-listed companies, as well as own three pro-sports teams in a single market, two of which won national championships. Working beside his father, Wayne had access to a materially blessed life: his own jet, the best parties, even travelling aboard a nuclear-powered submarine. Despite all this he found himself, "...happy but unfilled." Watch these videos as Wayne tells the inspirational story of the revelation he had in Jesus Christ.
Few people can say that the primary turning point of their life took place dozens of feet underwater while cruising aboard a nuclear-powered submarine. But then, few people have lived a life as extraordinary as Wayne Huizenga, Jr.
Sadly, perhaps the only part of Wayne’s life that could be considered normal is the fact that he comes from a broken home. Wayne’s parents divorced when he was only five, and he and his brother went to live with their mother in Chicago. As a young boy, Wayne longed to spend time with his father, Wayne, Sr., but his father lived in Florida, and he was so busy building up his business concerns that he had little time for his sons. The few times Wayne did get to spend with his father were special, and Wayne, Sr.’s lifestyle—which included jets, yachts, and fancy cars—definitely made an impact. Wayne, Jr. was convinced that one day he would join his father in business.
Wayne got his chance when his father bought into what was then a fledgling company called Blockbuster Video. Starting at the bottom as a store clerk, Wayne worked his way up to the point where he was involved in special projects with his father and the rest of the executive team. Eventually, Blockbuster went on to become the largest video retailer in the world, and Wayne’s father sold it to Viacom as he moved on to pursue other business opportunities.
After his stint at Blockbuster, Wayne continued to work in his father’s businesses, eventually becoming vice president of Huizenga Holdings. But while Wayne had a great head for making money, he also had other things on his mind…
Wayne had purchased Blockbuster’s stock while the company was still very young. Over the years, the stock’s value had risen astronomically, making Wayne a very wealthy man. He and his wife Fonda lived a life that most people only dream of. They traveled all over the world, bringing friends on all sorts of lavish vacations. But in the midst of it all, when the noise of the party died down, Wayne had to admit that something was still missing from his life. “I was happy in my life,” says Wayne, “and I had everything that the world considers you should have: jet planes, yachts, a big house, and a wonderful family. But I never really felt fulfilled.”
Oddly enough, Wayne’s journey toward finding fulfillment began during a voyage from South Carolina to Florida on board a nuclear submarine. During the trip, he spent a lot of time with the boat’s captain, Brad Fleetwood-McDonald. This encounter had a profound impact on Wayne. “He had patience that was just unbelievable,” says Wayne. “And he had incredible wisdom. He didn’t seem to be searching like I was. I saw a calm and a peace in him that I had not seen in anybody else.”
Wayne maintained a relationship with Captain McDonald, who constantly referred Wayne to the Bible when it came to dealing with issues in his life. Eventually, Captain McDonald’s influence led Wayne and Fonda to start attending church. That’s where Wayne learned about how he could have a personal relationship with God. And that’s when his life took a completely different turn. “I realized I’d been given these incredible gifts—airplanes, boats, and money—and the ability to do most anything I wanted in life. But I was using it all for me. It was all being used selfishly. In no way did I use any of it to glorify God.”
From that point on, Wayne was determined that things were going to be different. He stopped drinking and partying, and he resumed his business activities with a new sense of purpose. People were amazed at the changes in Wayne, but no one was more affected than Fonda, Wayne’s wife. “My immediate response was, have you lost your mind?” She says. Fonda liked the changes, but she still found it a little frightening, because Wayne’s transformation was so radical. However, after seeing Wayne’s faith weather a number of tests, including the deaths of his mother and grandfather, she eventually committed her life to God as well. “From that point, it felt like we were in a canoe, and now we were finally paddling together,” Fonda says.
Today, Wayne brings God into everything he does, including his business dealings. He doesn’t just look at deals as a way to make money; he also sees them as opportunities to help others. “To me, success is being able to use what we’ve been given to change other people’s lives. I have this great desire to share what I have with other people. To me, that’s success.”