Barefoot Doctor Turns Casino Billionaire

Everyone loves a rags to riches story, and in this vein there is hardly a more appropriate tale than that of Cui Lijie. Fondly referred to as Madame Chairlady, Cui now has an estimated value that ranks somewhere in the billions, putting her at the forefront of the casino industry of the world. But, turn the clock back just a few years and you’ll find a startling origin to this business shrewd lady.

The story is that Cui was originally a doctor in the remote Chinese countryside, treating patients and saving every penny she earned. The term “barefoot doctor” is often used, but is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. Either way, Cui managed to save up about $5,000, which she used to invest in an auto repair shop. That was back in 1988, and the first step that would see Cui on the path to riches.

Imperial Pacific

The rise of Cui’s fortune and fame is a long, twisting tale of investments and enormous projects, but much of the story involves the connection between Cui and the company Imperial Pacific. Imperial Pacific was originally listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange as a health food company, previously known as First Natural Food Holdings. However, the company was bought out and taken in a whole new direction.

It is estimated that the company was worth about $36 million when purchased, and now has a value of roughly $1.7 billion. That is a serious increase in value in a very short space of time.

The story is that Cui’s son, Ji, went on holiday to Saipan, and saw massive potential on the little island. He convinced his mother that there was money to be made on Saipan, but that it would take an enormous investment. Cui took the opportunity, and put her son in charge of the casino construction project. The initial step to investing in Saipan was a shopping mall, built in 1995. However, the project extended from the shopping mall into the now famous casino that dominates the entertainment industry in Saipan.

Best Sunshine Live

The casino has the rather peculiar name of Best Sunshine Live, offering the classic casino games to visitors, including roulette, blackjack, and poker. But, regardless of how odd the name may be, the casino is known to draw more high rollers than almost any other casino in the world. In fact, the Venetian Macao, known for its high roller clientele, does not hold a candle to Best Sunshine Live. That should give some idea of just how much revenue is generated by the Saipan-based casino paradise.

No Small Investment

But, as is well known; it takes money to make money. The casino construction and establishment was no small project, and estimated to have cost about $600 million. This is no small chunk of change, and the money had to have come from somewhere. Forbes reports that Cui purchased $100 million company bonds in order to finance the project; so don’t think that the lady did invest her own money.

As it stands, Cui owns two thirds of Imperial Pacific, and with the casino up and running, she can now proudly call herself a lady with a fascinating rags to riches story, and enough money that she need not ever work again. Not bad for a lady who started out as a doctor in the Chinese countryside.

Retired And Happy

Cui is now retired, but she still has a hand in her business interests. Her son Ji now handles most of the Imperial Pacific business, and he more than proved his worth previously when given the job to watch over the casino construction.

But, where does a billionaire retire, and what does she do with her time now that she is no longer watching over Imperial Pacific?

Interestingly, Cui decided not to retire in her home country of Hong Kong. She decided instead to live on Saipan, where her casino dominates the skyline. When asked why she decided to live on Saipan, and not in Hong Kong, the lady simply replied that there are too many people in Hong Kong.

Cui now spends her time exploring her favourite hobby; photography. There are certainly many photo opportunities on an island paradise like Saipan. When not snapping away with a camera, Cui also dedicates her time to the Imperial Pacific outreach programme, dedicated to uplifting the poor of Saipan. One can’t help notice that Cui started out her story helping the poor in the Chinese countryside as a doctor, and is now ending her story doing much the same thing, even if it is with a net worth of over a billion dollars.