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Hi, I'm Bill Burke, co-author of Call Me Ted, with my "120" on the competitive zeal of Ted Turner.
Ted is competitive in everything. He's competitive in business; he's competitive in sailing. And I even interviewed a friend of his who tried to find a sport where it's impossible to be competitive. He convinced Ted to take up downhill skiing in Big Sky, Mont., figuring that's one place you can go and just relax and have some fun. And Ted hadn't skied before, so he went off with an instructor, and this other guy went off, and they said, "Let's meet at lunch."
So the other guy got to the lunch place first, and Ted came breezing in. He said, "How'd you like it, Ted?" "Great. How many runs did you do?" The guy said, "Well, I don't know." "You didn't count 'em? I did 21. How many you'd do?" And so Ted even found a way to be competitive in what should have been a relaxed day on the ski slope.
Everything he does, he tries to do bigger than anyone else. He owns more land than anyone in America. And even with me one time, he tried to prove that he lost more money in a shorter period of time than anyone in history. And I said, "Ted, I'm not really sure how we could prove that."
He said, "Well, let's think about it." And I said, "Well, OK. You lost on the AOL deal [in the merger between AOL (NYSE: AOL ) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) ] when that stock cratered. You lost $7 billion in two years. So let's make the math simple: That's 700 days, $7 billion." He's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah! That's $10 million! I lost $10 million every day for two years. No one's ever done that before! I'm No. 1!" He gave me a high five. So he had to be No. 1 in everything he did.
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