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Our History: Featured Alumni/ae: Lupton, John T., 1886

Over the decades our graduates have developed distinguished careers as justices, members of Congress, ambassadors, educators, business people, and community leaders in many fields. This site features some of those late graduates.

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John Thomas Lupton

Businessman; innovator in Coca-Cola bottling industry

John Thomas Lupton was born in 1862 near Winchester, Virginia and received a degree in law from the University of Virginia. After a visit to the home of a fellow student, he settled in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1887. Following his marriage, Lupton took a job as legal counsel to the Chattanooga Medicine Company, owned by his father-in-law, eventually becoming company vice president and treasurer. Together with Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead, he obtained exclusive rights from Asa Candler to bottle and sell Coca-Cola. The three men became the primary investors in the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in the United States. Following the business' rapid success, the partners divided the country into territories and gave various family members responsibility over them and began selling bottling franchises. By 1909, nearly 400 bottling operations had been opened. Lupton was a significant contributor to a number of southern schools, colleges and universities; Baylor School in Chattanooga, Oglethorpe University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga all have named buildings on their campuses in his honor. John Thomas Lupton died in 1933. In 1986, his grandson sold the family's bottling operations back to Coca Cola for $1.4 billion.

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