HIGHTOWER: "Ted Turner: What a Sport"

Today's feature: Sports financing. We constantly hear the owners of professional teams whine that they're bleeding money in their civic effort to bring sports to us fans. But one who doesn't whine is Ted Turner, who's the founder of the Goodwill Games -- a sort of private Olympics for the world's professional track & field stars. Operating since 1986 and held every four years, these games reportedly have lost more than 100 million dollars, not counting this year's event.Meeting in Turner's office, a New York Times reporter asked if this huge river of red ink bothered him. Turner jumped up, dashed across his office to his computer and checked the latest price on his 60 million shares of Time Warner stock. "Ha!" he exclaimed as he turned back to the reporter, not sounding at all like a worried man. Indeed, his stock wealth increased $120 million that day. One day!It's hard to imagine how much money that is. Think of it like this: assume that you're the typical American making $30,000 a year. Let's say you work from the time you're 20 years old 'til retiring at 65, and let's assume you make $30,000 for each of those 45 years. In a lifetime of work, then, you'll bring in 1.3 million bucks -- about a hundred times less than Ted Turner got in one day without lifting a finger.Now let's assume that you do even better in your life, that you're a millionaire. Indeed, let's say that you make a million bucks a year during each of your 45 years at the grindstone. So $45 million bucks is what you get after a lifetime of work. Not bad . . . but barely a third of Ted's $120-million, one-day haul.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . For the gabillionaire owners of sports teams, a hundred million bucks is not worth counting.Source: "It's good will, so what's $100 Million?" by Richard Sandomir. New York Times: July 17, 1998.

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