June 29, 2010
Irony is Warren Buffett gambling the capital of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) shareholders.
It's also reality.
Several months ago, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary backed an insurance contract that would leave the company on the hook for $30 million if France won the World Cup.
Fortunately, France was purged last week (sorry, French Fools), leaving Berkshire shareholders free of liability -- plus they get to keep an unknown premium, of course.
This probably surprises you. Berkshire and sports betting is analogous to snow in the Sahara -- it isn't supposed to happen, and when it does, you think the world is coming to an end. When Buffett invests in a company like Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) , he'll back it up with logical quotes like "forget about share of market; I'm talking about share of mind." When he invested in Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) and General Electric (NYSE: GE ) in 2008, he noted the caliber of the companies' management and their history of success. Sports betting? That's harder to justify. Rolling the dice doesn't exactly fit in Berkshire's quiver.
Or maybe it does. If you want a good rationalization for this sports wager, go back to a Fox Business interview earlier this year, when Buffett explains, "We're in the business of taking risks and we try to get paid appropriately."
Willie Sutton robbed banks because that's where the money was. Warren Buffett bets on soccer because, from time to time, that's where the money is.