Kentucky native Brad Kelley is quietly Texas’ largest landowner 

Tobacco tycoon lives in Tennessee, owns 940,000 acres in the Lone Star State

Kentucky Native Brad Kelley is Texas’ Largest Landowner
Texas’ largest landowner Brad Kelley (Getty, Land Report)

If this were Jeopardy, naming the largest landowner in Texas might be worth $1000.

Tobacco tycoon Brad Kelley, a Kentucky native and Tennessee resident, owns 940,000 acres in the state, more than any other Texas landlord, the Dallas Morning News reported, citing the 2024 Land Report 100. 

Kelley is the ninth largest landowner in the country. Topping the list is the Emmerson family, owners of Sierra Pacific Industries, with over 2.4 million acres spread across California, Oregon and Washington. Missouri businessman Stan Kroenke, who is married to a Walmart heir, is the fourth-largest landowner in the United States, with 1.7 million acres across Texas, Wyoming and Nevada. He owns the 175-acre Waggoner Ranch in North Texas.

Kelley, however, is looking to offload some of his Texas portfolio, as he’s trying to sell Brewster Ranch, a 28-property just north of Big Bend National Park in West Texas. Kelley is asking more than $245 million for the ranch, or $8.75 million per acre, with James King of King Land & Water marketing the property.

Texas ranches often yield some of the most-eye popping sales and listings in the state. In January, for instance, the 80,000-acre Turkey Track Ranch in the Texas Panhandle hit the market at $180 million. NFL legend Terry Bradshaw in November sold his 800-acre ranch near the Oklahoma border, last listed at $22.5 million. 

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Also in West Texas, the 22,000-acre Double T Ranch is up for grabs with a $20 million price tag. Notably, Kelley’s ask is especially high given its per-acre price. 

Kelley amassed his wealth through his discount cigarette company Commonwealth Brands but has diversified his investments over the years. His ventures have included acquiring and selling travel guide company Lonely Planet, distilling spirits and breeding and racing thoroughbred horses.

Kelley’s U.S. portfolio totals 1 million acres, including properties in New Mexico. 

Texas’ second-biggest landowners are the King Ranch Heirs, who hold 911,215 acres.

—Quinn Donoghue

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