Founder of Wal-Mart’s Reaction to Learning He is the Richest Man in America


This is an excerpt from the intelligent fanatic founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton’s autobiography, Made In America:


“So along comes Forbes in 1985 and says I’m the richest man in America. Well, there’s no question that if you multiply the Wal-Mart stock price by how much we own, then maybe we are worth $20 or $25 billion, or whatever they say. The family may have those kinds of assets, but I have never seen that myself. For one thing, Helen and I only own 20 percent of our family’s total interest in Wal-Mart. For another, as long as I have anything to do with it – and I’m confident this attitude will last at least another generation – most of that Wal-Mart stock is staying right where it is. We don’t need the money. We don’t need to buy a yacht. And thank goodness, we never thought we had to go out and buy anything like an island. We just don’t have those kinds of needs or ambitions, which wreck a lot of companies when they get along in years. Some families sell their stock off a little at a time to live high, and then – boom – somebody takes them over, and it all goes down the drain. One of the real reasons I’m writing this book is so my grandchildren and great-grand-children will read it years from now and know this: If you start any of that foolishness, I’ll come back and haunt you. So, don’t even think about it.”

“We’re not ashamed of having money, but I just don’t’ believe a big showy lifestyle is appropriate for anywhere, least of all here in Bentonville where folks work hard for their money and where we all know that everyone puts on their trousers one leg at a time. I’m not sure I ever really figured out this celebrity business. Why in the world, for example, would I get an invitation to Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding out in Hollywood? I still can’t believe it was news that I get my hair cut at a barbershop. Where else would I get it cut? Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls Royce?”

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