The Noted Racist: W. Allan Jones of Check Into Cash


W. Allan Jones is the owner of Check Into Cash, a “pioneer” of the payday lending industry, and a co-founder of the industry’s special interest trade group, Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). Jones has net worth is north of $500 million, and he flaunts it. He owns jets, a yacht, exotic cars, a house based off the Biltmore complete with a regulation-size football field (with bleachers), and a 223 acre Jackson Hole retreat. Despite his wealth, Jones still complains that he hasn’t made enough and compares the profits of payday lenders to minimum wage workers without cracking a smile.

Others have benefited from his wealth too. Over the years he has contributed at least $37,050 to the campaigns of powerful politicians and political party committees.

Jones also has made racist remarks over the years, saying his town had just enough blacks to make a decent basketball team but not enough to worry about crime.  Also, his office is visited each week by an African American man who comes to shine the shoes of executives. They call him their “little chocolate man.”

Jones also had a tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife.  After she was granted a restraining order against him, he wiretapped her phone to see if she was having an affair.  He was indicted for wiretapping, but the case was dismissed.

The Details:

W. Allan Jones Was a Pioneer of the Payday Lending Industry and Co-Founded the CFSA

  • Jones Was One of the Founders of The CFSA. “Corker’s intervention came after intense lobbying from the Community Financial Services Association (CFSA), a trade group of pay-day lenders created in 1999 by Jones and others in the industry. In the last three months of 2009, CFSA spent $500,000 lobbying Congress on the financial regulatory reform and other issues affecting regulation of the pay-day loan industry, according to disclosure records examined by TPMmuckraker. (One of the top Washington lobbyists hired by CFSA, Wright Andrews of Butera & Andrews, was also the prime lobbyist for the sub-prime mortgage industry earlier this decade.)” [Talking Points Memo, 3/10/10]
  • Jones Was A “Pioneer” Of The Payday Lending Industry. “It was at the end of a long day, the first of two we would spend together, that Allan Jones, the pioneer of the $40-billion-a-year payday industry, shared with me his views on race.” [Huffington Post, 6/6/10]
  • Jones Was the First to Pursue Cash Advance as A Stand-Alone Business. “But Jones was the first to pursue the cash advance as a stand-alone business with blue-sky potential. “It was like we was filling this giant void out there,” he says.” [BusinessWeek, 5/20/10]

Jones’ Racism and Sexism on Full Display

  • Jones Said His Town Had Just Enough Blacks to Make a Decent Basketball Team, But Not Enough for People to Worry About Crime, “That’s Why I Can Leave My Keys in The Care with The Door Unlocked.” “It was at the end of a long day, the first of two we would spend together, that Allan Jones, the pioneer of the $40-billion-a-year payday industry, shared with me his views on race. His town, Jones told me, has just enough blacks to put together a decent basketball team — but not so many the good people of Cleveland, Tennessee need to worry about crime.  “That’s why I can leave my keys in the car with the door unlocked,” he explained while driving me around Cleveland. I started to muster a response but he cut me off. “You don’t like what I’m saying,” he said, “but I’m just telling you the way it is.” [Huffington Post, 6/6/10]
  • Jones’ Check into Cash Had a Black Man Come in to Shine Their Shoes Every Thursday; Executives Dubbed Him Their “Little Chocolate Man.” “I was only sorry that I didn’t visit on a Thursday. That’s when a black man named Randy Jarrett, who does odd jobs for Jones’s various companies, shows up to shine the shoes of the company’s top people. “Everyone else acted as if it were completely normal for the male managers to take their shoes off every Thursday afternoon,” a former employee told me. Making the scene even more degrading was the offensive nickname some of the executives had given Jarrett. “They’d stand out in the hall while their ‘Little Chocolate Man’ shined their shoes.” [Huffington Post, 6/6/10]
  • Jones Childhood Friend Who’s On Payroll of Jones Management Suggested That Jones Hire “Female Barbers with Big Titties” At The Barber Shop He Owned. “Similarly, hanging around inside Jones’s world even for a couple of days gave me a glimpse of his views on gender. More women than men use payday loans (all those single moms living on the economic edge, among other reasons) but how relevant is it that a sidekick of Jones’s, who everyone calls Doughball (friends since childhood, on the Jones payroll for nearly as long), hardly wins himself a Gloria Steinem Award for his solution to the small financial bath Jones was taking at the local barbershop he owned. Jones had tried giving the place the old time feel of Floyd’s on The Andy Griffith Show, his all-time favorite TV program, but it was at a post-work drinking session that Doughball diagnosed the problem for the big boss.  “I said to him, ‘Forget all this theme-ing stuff, just hire female barbers with big titties.'” With a laugh, Doughball added that because Jones listened to him, “it’s made a nice little profit ever since.” If nothing else, the story reveals Jones to be a CEO willing to push ethical boundaries, at least if it means more money in his pocket.”  [Huffington Post, 6/6/10]

Jones Is Worth Hundreds of Millions and Has an Opulent Lifestyle

  • 2005: Jones’ Net Worth Was $500 Million. “The business has been good to Jones, 56, however. In 2005, a Tennessee business magazine put his net worth at $500 million — high enough to put him on a list of the state’s richest 20 people, alongside FedEx founder Fred Smith and Thomas Frist Jr., the hospital entrepreneur and father of former Senate leader Bill Frist. [Talking Points Memo, 3/10/10]
  • Jones Owns the Check Into Cash Chain That Earns Him More Than $20 Million A Year. “The next day we met as planned at the offices of Check Into Cash, a chain of 1,200 payday lending stores that earns Jones more than $20 million in after-tax profits each year.” [Huffington Post, 6/6/10]
  • Jones Has A 400 Acre Home With An Air-Conditioned Muscle Garage, And On-Site Greenhouse With A Full-Time Horticulturist, A Three Story Tree House, And A Regulation Size Football Field With Lights And A Scoreboard That Hosted The First-Ever Private College Football Game. “And Jones hasn’t been shy about displaying that fortune. According to the magazine, Jones’s 400-acre home boasts an air-conditioned muscle car garage, which includes a $300,000 Maybach; an on-site greenhouse with a full-time horticulturist; a three-story tree house; and — get this — a regulation-sized football field with lights, a scoreboard and supporting field house and stand, which he used to host the first-ever private college football game, raising $100,000 for University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.” [Talking Points Memo, 3/10/10]
  • Jones Owns A 223-Acre Commercial Dude ranch In Jackson Hole, WY. “But everyone needs to get away sometimes. Jones also owns a 223-acre commercial dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which borders on 1,300 acres of national forest.” [Talking Points Memo, 3/10/10]
  • Jones Owned A 136 Foot Yacht That Previously Belonged To King Juan Carlos Of Spain But It Burned In A Fire; So He Bought A 157 Foot Boat With An Estimated Price Tag Of $24 Million. “Jones also used to own a 136-foot Mefasa yacht, which had previously belonged to King Juan Carlos of Spain. But it burned in a fire near Palm Beach. Never mind — Jones replaced it with a 157-foot boat, named after his wife, Janie, with an estimated price tag of $24 million. NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson has honeymooned on it. You can charter it for $25,000 a day.”  [Talking Points Memo, 3/10/10]
  • Jones:  I’m “The Only Person In Town With The Guts To Drive A Bentley And A Maybach.” In the book “The Richest Man In Town: The Twelve Commandments Of Wealth”, Jones is quoted as saying he’s “the only person in town with the guts to drive a Bentley and a Maybach.” [The Richest Man In Town: The Twelve Commandments Of Wealth; Randall Jones; Published 5/4/09]
  • Jones Said He Always Wanted A Limestone Mansion Like The Beverly Hillbilllies—And He Got It, Except With Texas Limestone Instead Of Indiana Limestone Like The Clampetts. According to the book “The Richest Man In Town: The Twelve Commandments Of Wealth”, Jones said, “I have always wanted a limestone mansion just like the Beverly Hillbillies.”  The book states, “He’s got it, except he had to settle for Texas limestone instead of Indiana limestone like the Clampetts’ mansion.”  [The Richest Man In Town: The Twelve Commandments Of Wealth; Randall Jones; Published 5/4/09]
  • Jones Brought The Stars Of The Sitcom Leave It To Beaver To His 25th Anniversary Halloween Party- A Party That Had 25,000 Guests. According to the book “The Richest Man In Town: The Twelve Commandments Of Wealth”, “For his twenty-fifth-anniversary Halloween party, he brought the stars of the 1960 sitcom Leave It To Beaver—Jerry Mathers, Tony Dow, and Ken Osmond—to celebrate with him and 25,000 of his friends.”  [The Richest Man In Town: The Twelve Commandments Of Wealth; Randall Jones; Published 5/4/09]
  • Jones’ Home Has Two Elevators And A Pair Of Man-Made Lakes. “We shared a couple of meals, he showed me the house he built for himself modeled on the famous 250-room Biltmore mansion. His version includes two elevators, a pair of man-made lakes, and a regulation-sized football field complete with light, bleachers, and field house.” [The Daily Beast, 6/25/11]
  • Jones’ Yacht Has “Highly Detailed Woodwork” And 10 Big Screen TVs. “He owns two private jets and when the 136-foot yacht he bought from the king of Spain burned in a fire, he replaced it with a 157-foot vessel that Yachting magazine described as having “an abundance of exquisite and highly detailed woodwork… and 10 big-screen TVs.” [The Daily Beast, 6/25/11]

Jones Complains About How He Doesn’t Make Enough Money

  • Jones Regretted Not Moving Into Europe Quicker Saying He “Could Really Use The Money” Since His Money Was So Tied Up In Jets, Yachts, Real Estate And Cars That He Couldn’t Afford To Finish The Driveway Of His Mansion Modeled After The Biltmore. “He then kicked himself for failing to move into Europe a few years back when he had his chance. “I could really use that money now,” Jones told me. His money was so tied up in jets and yachts and real estate and cars (a $300,000 Maybach, a vintage Rolls, a vintage Bentley) and horses, he moaned in an oh-woe-is-me-voice that was growing all-too-familiar, that he still hadn’t finished the driveway to the giant home he had built for himself modeled on the Biltmore, the stunning French chateau that a prior robber baron, George Vanderbilt, had built for himself a century earlier. [Huffington Post, 6/6/10]

Jones Wrote a Letter to the Editor Saying He Made Minimum Wage

  • Wrote Jones: “Is a store that earns $8.90 for a 45-hour work-week ‘raking it in?’ Believe it or not, some elitist people and the mainstream media think so…It’s hard to feel like a predatory lender when you make about the same wage as the average employee at Burger King – a company which, by the way, netted $200 million last year. Whoppers are clearly more profitable than payday loans.”

Jones Was Indicted for Wiretapping His Ex-wife but It Was Thrown Out

  • Jones Ex-Wife Filed A Restraining Order Against Him. “In the bill of particulars the Government stated that the residence was owned by the grandmother of Appellee; that the telephone number was listed in Appellee’s name; that Appellee and his wife separated in July of 1974 and had not lived together as man and wife after that date; that Appellee filed for divorce on September 25, 1974; that on October 7, 1974 his wife was granted a restraining order by the Chancery Court prohibiting Appellee from “coming about” her; that on January 20, 1975 the divorce decree was granted; and that on one or more occasions Appellee had intercepted his wife’s telephone conversations outside the curtilage of the residence. [US Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, 9/30/76]
  • Jones Used A Recording Device On His Ex-Wife’s Phone To See If She Was Having An Affair And Used The Recordings To Obtain A Divorce And Was Indicted- But The Indictment Was Dismissed. “Appellee submitted an affidavit with exhibits attached wherein he stated that he paid the rent on the premises and the telephone bills during the period in question; that he and his wife continued a sexual relationship even though he had moved out of the house in late July of 1974; that he returned to the house on occasion to babysit; that on October 18, 1974 while babysitting he became suspicious that his wife was involved in an extramarital affair and placed a recording device on the telephone; that the recordings of the intercepted telephone calls confirmed his suspicions; and that he used the recordings to obtain a divorce. On December 3, 1975, District Judge Bailey Brown, sitting by designation, ruled on the basis of the proffered materials that Appellee’s conduct fell within an implied exception to 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(a) for purely interspousal wiretaps placed on telephones within the marital home and he dismissed all counts of the indictment.2[US Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, 9/30/76]

Jones Has Contributed At Least $37,050 to Powerful Politicians and Party Committees. 

Over the years Jones has contributed at least $40,000 to the campaigns of powerful politicians and political party committees. [Center for Responsive Politics]

  • 10/13/1992 – $500 – Wamp, Zach
  • 09/28/1994 – $500 – Wamp, Zach
  • 10/26/1994 – $300 – Thompson, Fred
  • 03/02/1995 – $500 – Republican Party of Tennessee
  • 11/17/1995 – $250 – Wamp, Zach
  • 12/04/1995 – $3,000 – Republican Party of Tennessee
  • 01/02/1996 – $300 – National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • 04/15/1996 – $250 – Wamp, Zach
  • 04/23/1996 – $250 – Wamp, Zach
  • 09/13/1996 – $250 – Wamp, Zach
  • 10/20/1997 – $1,000 – Wamp, Zach
  • 10/20/1997 – $1,000 – Wamp, Zach
  • 12/12/1997 – $5,000 – Republican Party of Tennessee
  • 03/24/1998 – $5,000 – Republican Party of Tennessee
  • 10/19/1999 – $1,200 – Republican Party of Tennessee
  • 01/24/2001 – $750 – National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • 06/14/2006 – $1,000 – Wamp, Zach
  • 10/03/2008 – $2,000 – Wamp, Zach
  • 03/22/2011 – $1,000 – Roskam, Peter
  • 03/22/2011 – $1,000 – Ross, Mike
  • 03/23/2011 – $2,000 – Neugebauer, Randy
  • 06/18/2012 – $2,500 – Romney, Mitt
  • 12/03/2013 – $2,500 – Jordan, Jim
  • 10/15/2014 – $5,000 – Neugebauer, Randy
  • TOTAL: $37,050

Special thanks to National People’s Action for allowing Allied Progress to use its extensive research on payday lending industry executives.

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