Robert Kiyosaki shared many tips and secrets to help us get financial freedom and teach us how to build wealth through asset and real estate investing in his popular book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”
However, there's something he kept to himself for a long time: the true identity of his Rich Dad.
Published in 1997, Rich Dad Poor Dad became the #1 personal finance book of all time. The Rich Dad series is estimated to have sold around 27 million copies in some 80 different languages.
With such figures, Rich Dad revolutionized the way millions of people around the world viewed, used, and invested their money.
However, Robert Kiyosaki did not reveal enough details of who the now famous character was in real life until, on May 4, 2016, he interviewed Rich Dad's son.
Do you want to know what the author said about this emblematic figure's identity? Here's everything you need to know.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: Who Are the Two Main Characters in Real Life?
Robert Kiyosaki wrote his most famous book around two very influential figures in his life: a rich dad and a poor dad.
It was never a secret that “Poor Dad” was his biological father, Ralph H. Kiyosaki, a cultured and educated man who worked in the state of Hawaii government's education side but never amassed a large fortune.
However, there was a question that remained in our heads for a long time: “Who is Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad?”
The author revealed that the character described his best friend Mike's father, a man who amassed enormous wealth and became one of the richest men in Hawaii after dropping out of school at age 13.
According to the book, both men had similar incomes when their careers began, but the way each thought about and handled money defined who would have many more zeros in their bank accounts.
Through savvy business and investments, Rich Dad's fortune grew exponentially, and he became fabulously wealthy.
Our Description of Real-Life Rich Dad
While Kiyosaki did not reveal the Rich Dad's identity, some details he gave in books, speeches, and interviews over the years allowed us to compile a better description.
Rich Dad lived down the street from where Kiyosaki lived with Poor Dad in Hilo, Hawaii.
Both men had the same banker and even looked alike. However, Rich Dad was 5 years younger, and his money-related actions were very different.
Rich Dad, who was three years in the army, spent much of his life building an empire from different investments and businesses. The man owned restaurants, a chain of convenience stores, warehouses, and a construction company.
Later in life, with a huge fortune, Rich Dad donated a lot of money to his church and other charities. He even started a foundation.
However, despite such facts and the details that Kiyosaki gave about him (even revealing that he weighed 200 pounds and was six feet tall), no one could figure out who the Rich Dad character really was.
In 1990, “Mike” took over the Rich Dad's empire, but the author revealed that his name was actually a pseudonym he purposely provided to keep the identities of his best friend and his father a secret.
Is There a Real Rich Dad? Controversy over the Character
As soon as Robert Kiyosaki's book hit the New York Times bestseller list, journalists began searching for more information about the author and his characters.
In 2002, while speaking to Smart Money magazine about the world-famous book, Kiyosaki fielded questions about Rich Dad's true identity.
“Why don't you treat Rich Dad like Harry Potter?” he expressed. However, his remarks were met with an avalanche of criticism. Kiyosaki was under fire and involved in a firestorm of controversy, with hundreds of people saying the character did not exist in real life.
Given the book's popularity, many people trusted and followed Rich Dad's advice, hoping to accelerate their businesses' clash flow, make real estate investments, or create passive income sources to grow their wealth.
Therefore, thinking he did not exist in real life disappointed many. Some critics claimed that Rich Dad came from Kiyosaki's creative imagination and even demanded that the author treat his work as a fiction book.
However, in a later interview with the Honolulu Advertiser, Kiyosaki claimed there was a real man behind the character. However, he added that Rich Dad had characteristics of other people.
During another interview in 2013 about Rich Dad's true identity, Kiyosaki gave a reporter the contact information for one of the man's sons.
The interviewer called Rich Dad's alleged son, who claimed that the man Kiyosaki described in his stories was his father. However, that “revelation” did not convince the journalist, who doubted the claims' authenticity.
Since the interviewer agreed not to reveal the phone number or name of the person he spoke to through the phone call, no one was able to get back in touch with the alleged son of the real-life man and heir to every Rich Dad company.
Kiyosaki spent the next 13 years not speaking about it and maintaining anonymity. The author cited multiple times a written agreement with the real family of Rich Dad to keep their identities secret.
Meanwhile, the character was seen as a figment of Kiyosaki's imagination or a combination of all the influences in the author's life. In other words, Rich Dad stopped being a real person.
Rich Dad Books Were Shock about the News
The Rich Dad financial series included many successful books revolving around the character, including “Rich Dad's Cashflow Quadrant,” “Who Took My Money?,” and “Rich Dad's Retire Young, Retire Rich.” There was also another very popular book created by Kiyosaki on financial education, called “Fake: Fake Money, Fake Teachers, Fake Assets: How Lies Are Making the Poor and Middle Class.”
Therefore, the initial news that he was not real but invented shocked fans.
Besides casting doubt on Rich Dad's tips for earning riches, these claims undermined the author's integrity.
Many fans who already knew about the controversy around the book said that they didn't care at all if he was real or not, as most of his advice was still really good. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” continued to be a best-selling personal finance book.
Over the years, the character had an impact on millions of people. Many were even inspired by his life to create their own companies and start their own businesses.
However, not everything is rosy. Rich Dad has been highly criticized, and the author has faced problems since the book was published, including investigations that reportedly “exposed” Kiyosaki's true intentions.
Also, many have based their financial decisions on Rich Dad's advice, but their plans have fallen apart. We'd also like to seek out the real-life man to hold him accountable if his advice fails, don't you think?
Robert Kiyosaki Gave Too Many Details about a Character That Could Not Be Fictional
While many famous fictional works of literature were born from the author's brilliant imagination and real-life events or people, Kiyosaki described Rich Dad in too much detail.
Since the book was published in the late 1990s, the author has given so much detail on the character in Rich Dad seminars, books, interviews, and speeches that it's truly hard to believe the man didn't exist.
On several occasions, Kiyosaki spoke about Buckminster Fuller's teachings and their impact on his life. However, the writer also described “Bucky” as a socialist while claiming Rich Dad was a capitalist. They are two different people, in conclusion.
Kiyosaki also talked about Marshall Thurber several times. Many believed Rich Dad was inspired by him. However, it is enough to look at the man's history to realize that the character is not based on him.
Others also thought that Rich Dad's financial advice was inspired by Keith Cunningham's seminars, but he was the same age as Kiyosaki and had worked with him.
We could notice that the author has had many influences throughout his life. That's true. However, neither figure fits the profile of the Rich Dad that we all know.
The Confession Finally Came: There Was a Rich Dad in Real Life
Fortunately, the confession one day came. Richard Wassman Kimi, a Hawaiian businessman and successful hotelier, passed away in 2019.
Back then, the Honolulu Advertiser obituary wrote a message honoring Richard Kimi, saying he had been a teaching enthusiast and enjoyed sharing his knowledge throughout his life.
Kimi had extensive experience in marketing, business, and sales. According to the Honolulu Advertiser obituary, he was happy to share his knowledge with the world.
One of his students was none other than Robert Kiyosaki, who based his original Rich Dad on Kimi, the obituary said, quoting Alan Kimi.
However, it was not until May 4, 2016, that Robert Kiyosaki himself brought the truth to his fans. On his Rich Dad Radio Show, the author interviewed Alan Kimi, confirming that he was his best friend “Mike” and his dad was the inspiration behind the character.
The pair confessed that the Kimi family had reached a confidentiality agreement with Kiyosaki and revealed why keeping the secret was so important to them.
Kiyosaki and Kimi told an anecdote of how the author refused to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show, saying that Oprah's producers demanded to know who the real-life Rich Dad was.
However, the author later struck a deal with Oprah and her producers, confirming the real-life identity but explaining the importance of anonymity. In consequence, the man behind the character remained a closely guarded secret to many.
Meeting Richard Kimi, the Real Man Behind Rich Dad's Guide on Financial Independence
Born on February 3, 1995, Richard Kimi was the son of Hawaii's Territorial Senator William Kimi.
Kimi was a Hawaiian of Asian descent and served in the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
After returning from the war in Hawaii, he joined the family business and began selling army surplus goods. However, he was not making a profit. After that project's failure, Kimi entered the construction business.
Together with his brothers, he built the “Kimivile” low-cost housing project in Hilo, Hawaii. Then, in the mid-1950s, he had the idea that allowed him to start his own business.
Kimi believed that offering affordable hotel rooms to those who came by boat and plane to Hilo could help him make money. While many disagreed with his plan, he built the 30-room Hotel Hukilau, hoping to cater to the not-so-wealthy visitors to the resort island.
Hotel Hukilau's accommodations were a success and the business expanded rapidly, allowing Kimi to open Hukilau and Seaside hotels in Maui, Kona, and Kaua'i.
However, Kimi was not extremely ambitious. Instead of starting to build big hotels, his business targeted local residents and those traveling on limited budgets.
Kimi also began to innovate to grow his project. In addition to pioneering fax bookings, he was one of the first to put together full-service packages with flights, rooms, and cars.
After his death, Richard Kimi's Sand & Seaside Hotels business was taken over by his son Alan.
In the interview with Kiyosaki, Alan said they had been very grateful to have his father as a mentor and recounted how he thought five to 10 years ahead.
When they had business meetings, Kimi did not consider all the money his business had earned in the last few quarters. Instead, he simply replied that he was not interested and encouraged them to think about what they would be doing in the next decade.
Final Thoughts: He Was Actually Mike's Dad
Here we have it! One of the biggest mysteries in the financial literacy world has finally been solved. Rich Dad really existed and was a Hawaiian with a high financial IQ and a special talent for saving money and putting it into the best investments.
In other words, the practical advice on personal finances Kiyosaki gave tens of millions of people came from the financial genius he always described: his best friend's father.