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Gil Cisneros
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded by Ed Royce
Succeeded by Young Kim
Personal details
Born Gilbert Ray Cisneros Jr.
February 12, 1971(1971-02-12) (age 51)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic (2008–present)
Other political
Republican (before 2008)
Spouse(s) Jacki
Children 2
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank U.S. Navy O-4 infobox.svg Lieutenant Commander

Gilbert Ray Cisneros Jr. (born February 12, 1971)[1] is an American philanthropist and former politician who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 39th congressional district from 2019 to 2021. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected to the House in 2018.[2] He was defeated in his 2020 bid for reelection by former California State Assembly woman Young Kim, whom he had defeated in 2018.

In 2010, he and his wife won a $266 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot.[3]

Early life and education

Cisneros's mother worked in a cafeteria, while his father served in the Vietnam War and suffered from exposure to Agent Orange.[3] Cisneros served in the United States Navy as a supply officer for 11 years.[4] He earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from George Washington University (GWU) and his Master of Business Administration from Regis University.[5] He worked as a shipping and manufacturing manager for Frito-Lay until he was laid off in 2010.[6]

Philanthropic career

Weeks after he was laid off, Cisneros won a Mega Millions jackpot worth $266 million.[6] He and his wife became philanthropists, establishing endowments for scholarships to be given to Latino students at GWU and the University of Southern California. They also founded Generation First Degree Pico Rivera, with the goal of ensuring every Latino household in Pico Rivera has at least one college graduate, and the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation with an initial investment of $20 million to provide mentorship in education.[5][7][8] After setting up the foundation, Cisneros earned a Master of Arts from Brown University in Urban Education Policy.[3][4]

U.S. House of Representatives


2018 general election

Cisneros was a Republican until 2008, but left the party because he felt it had become "too ideological" and switched to the Democratic Party.[9]

In 2017, he declared his candidacy against Ed Royce in the 2018 election for the United States House of Representatives to represent California's 39th congressional district.[7][10] He specifically cited Royce's vote to repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, as a reason he chose to run.[9] In January 2018, Royce announced he would retire rather than seek reelection to a 14th term.[11] Later, the election attracted national attention as the "weirdest race in the country" after the California Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brokered a truce on negative campaigning between Cisneros and Andy Thorburn, who had each spent $6 million on their respective campaigns.[12]

Fears of a lockout by either party were not realized when Cisneros advanced to the November runoff election, finishing second in the June primary election to Republican former Assemblywoman Young Kim,[13] with 19.35% of the vote.[14] This election was rated a "Toss-up" by the Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball.[15] The Associated Press called the election for Cisneros on November 17.[16]


Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Congressional Taiwan Caucus
  • New Democrat Coalition

Electoral history

California's 39th congressional district election, 2018
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Young Kim 30,019 21.2
Democratic Gil Cisneros 27,469 19.4
Republican Phil Liberatore 20,257 14.3
Democratic Andy Thorburn 12,990 9.2
Republican Shawn Nelson 9,750 6.9
Republican Bob Huff 8,699 6.2
Democratic Sam Jammal 7,613 5.4
Democratic Mai-Khanh Tran 7,430 5.3
Democratic Herbert H. Lee 5,988 4.2
Republican Steven C. Vargas 4,144 2.9
Democratic Suzi Park Leggett 2,058 1.5
Republican John J. Cullum 1,747 1.2
[[No party preference (United States)|Template:No party preference (United States)/meta/shortname]] Karen Lee Schatzle 903 0.6
[[No party preference (United States)|Template:No party preference (United States)/meta/shortname]] Steve Cox 856 0.6
Republican Andrew Sarega 823 0.6
American Independent Sophia J. Alexander 523 0.4
American Independent Ted Alemayhu 176 0.1
Total votes 141,445 100.0
General election
Democratic Gil Cisneros 126,002 51.6
Republican Young Kim 118,391 48.4
Total votes 229,860 100.0

Personal life

Cisneros and his wife Jacki have two children, who are twins.[4] They own a home in Pico Rivera,[17] and lived in Newport Beach until they moved to Yorba Linda in late 2017, the year he began running for election.[7] Before Cisneros won the lottery, Jacki worked for KNBC in Los Angeles.[6]


  1. "CISNEROS, Gil - Biographical Information". United States Congress. 
  2. "Democrat Cisneros wins OC's 39th district". November 18, 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Former Navy Vet, Lottery Winner Joins Race To Unseat GOP Congressman « CBS Los Angeles". July 17, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Republicans-turned-Democrats challenging O.C. GOP Congress members". Orange County Register. July 19, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 L.S. Hall (June 24, 2015). "Lucky and Focused: A Lottery Winner Uses His Millions to Boost Hispanic Students — Inside Philanthropy". Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "TV news employee in LA has $266M winning ticket". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Christine Mai-Duc. "Navy veteran/lottery winner to challenge Orange County Rep. Ed Royce for Congress". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  8. David Callahan. "The Big Money Behind a New College Fund for Immigrant "DREAMers" — Inside Philanthropy". Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Lottery Winner to Challenge Royce in California". July 17, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  10. Wildermuth, John. "Lottery millionaire wins again: National Democrats help him in Orange County race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  11. "Rep. Ed Royce of California to retire, the 8th GOP chairman to bow out ahead of midterms". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2018. 
  12. "This is the weirdest race in the country" (in en). POLITICO. 
  13. Robertson, Derek (June 6, 2018). "This is basically a home run for Democrats". Politico. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  14. "Gil Cisneros". Retrieved July 2, 2018. 
  15. "California's 39th Congressional District election, 2018 - Ballotpedia" (in en-US).'s_39th_Congressional_District_election,_2018. 
  16. "Dem Gil Cisneros scores win in open-seat race in California". TheHill. Retrieved November 18, 2018. 
  17. "She won $266 million; chatted on 'Oprah'". Orange County Register. May 24, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Royce
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 39th congressional district

Succeeded by
Young Kim

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