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Little Caesars Pizza founder Mike Ilitch dies at age 87

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Owner Mike Ilitch of the Detroit Tigers speaks during a press conference to announce Prince Fielder's 9 year contract with the Tigers at Comerica Park on January 26, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Jorge Lemus/Getty Images)

Owner Mike Ilitch of the Detroit Tigers speaks during a press conference to announce Prince Fielder’s 9 year contract with the Tigers at Comerica Park on January 26, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Jorge Lemus/Getty Images)

DETROIT — Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who founded the Little Caesars Pizza empire, has died. He was 87.

Family spokesman Doug Kuiper says Ilitch died Friday at a hospital.

Ilitch and his wife opened their first Little Caesars restaurant in suburban Detroit in 1959, and the business eventually grew into the world’s largest carry-out pizza chain.

Ilitch paid a reported $8 million for the Detroit Red Wings 1982, and the team won at least four championships under his ownership.

A decade later, Ilitch paid $85 million for the Detroit Tigers and began pumping money into player salaries. The Tigers advanced to the World Series in 2006, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.