Billionaire burger queen remains rooted in faith

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |

IRVINE, Calif. (Christian Examiner) -- Faith instilled from childhood carried America's youngest female billionaire through tragic loss in her life and it is faith that carries her still.

Lynsi Snyder, the 33-year-old owner of the California-based In-N-Out burger chain tragically lost her father, Harry Guy Snyder, at age 17 when he became addicted to pain killers after a motorcycle accident and died in 1999 of an accidental overdose.

"When my dad was ripped out of my life, that was a huge loss for me" the self-professed "daddy's girl" told Orange Coast Magazine in a rare interview earlier this year. Snyder keeps an exceedingly low-profile which she credits to two kidnapping attempts -- one when she was 17 and again at 24.

It was faith that helped her grieve her father's death, as well as her own personal trials which include dissolving three marriages. Today, it is the same faith that motivates her daily, she told the magazine.

The mother of twins wears the reminders of her values with tattoos. One in Aramaic states "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done," a reference to Matthew 6:10.

Lynsi Snyder, 33, a Christian businesswoman, according to Bloomberg Billionaires, is currently the youngest American female billionaire. | In-N-Out Burger

Another simply states the word "hated" in Hebrew, a reminder from John 15:18 that Christ suffered persecution, she said. "If the world hates you, know that it hated me before."

Raised with Christian values, Snyder claims she was surrounded by religion since her youth. In addition to the influence of devout Christian family members, she attended a private Christian school near her father's ranch. Some reports claim the nondenominational school was discretely built specifically for her education.

Other ways the family's faith has been demonstrated is in one uncle's practice of subtly placing scripture references and Bible verses on food packaging, like the soft-drink cups available at the restaurants' 280 locations today.

From the tattoos to the printed scriptures, God's written word seems to surround Snyder in simple but meaningful ways.

"It gives me life, and makes me feel strong, and encourages me to stand for others ... knowing what different people in the Bible went though. I'm not getting dragged through the street, or hanged or flogged, [so] I guess I can make it through. It could be worse."

Harry and Esther Snyder, founders of In-N-Out Burger, with their sons, Rich and Guy, in a vintage photo. The burger chain opened with a single drive thru in 1948 in Southern California and now has over 280 locations. Their granddaughter, Lynsi Snyder, 33, a Christian businesswoman, according to Bloomberg Billionaires, is currently the youngest American female billionaire. | In-N-Out Burger

The business has something else in common with the Scripture. According to a story in the Orange County Register, it has remained focued and virtually unchanged -- with the basic In-N-Out menu -- burgers, fries, soda and shakes. 

Snyder, a former drag car racer, took helm of the company in 2010, according to the Orange County paper. The publication reported a series of family tragedies left Snyder, who is 2013 named as the youngest female billionaire in the world, as the sole heir of the company at age 24.

Los Angeles Times reported that until 1993 when he and other company executive were killed in a tragic plane crash, her father's brother, Rich Snyder, was president of the company.

In-N-Out was founded by Snyder's grandparents, Harry and Esther Snyder, in 1948 with a philosophy of meticulously making each burger by hand. Esther Snyder, who served in World War II as a surgical nurse before she was married, died in 2006. Harry Snyder, died in 1976, the year after milk shakes were added to the menu.

In 2017 when she turns 35, Lynsi Snyder will inherit all of the company's stock. The company reported $17.1 million in charitable giving in 50 countries and give states in the last 12 years on its website through its non-profit Child Abuse Foundation. Lynsi Synder has also been affiliated with Healing Hearts & Nation, a non-profit organization with ministry in Africa and India.