Atlanta business icon Ted Turner coaxed laughter from a room packed with Buckhead’s boldfaced names when he took the stage Jan.28 during the Buckhead Coalition’s 26th annual meeting and luncheon.

Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell, left, questions Ted Turner during the coalition's annual meeting Jan. 28.
Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell, left, questions Ted Turner during the coalition’s annual meeting Jan. 28.

Answering questions posed by Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell, Turner offered his thoughts on a variety of subjects, from his charity work to his move into television programming with WTBS, CNN and other cable channels.

A few of Turner’s off-the-cuff replies:

On money: “If you economize and don’t buy new planes every year, you can get by on a billion or two.”

On whether education or entrepreneurial energy is more meaningful in business: “I’d put my money on brain power. I’d rather be smart and poor than rich and dumb.”

On building cable channel businesses after running a billboard company: “The thing I didn’t like about billboards was that it was all advertising. The thing I liked about television was programs. I wanted to make programs.”

On philanthropy: “There are all sorts of things that can be done with money, but you have to have it in order to have options.”

On why he doesn’t retire “and go sit on the beach somewhere.”: “You get sunburned if you sit on the beach. Work, for me, was never work.”

On what he expected from the future: “Not a lot. Even though I have six or seven different businesses. I am tired. I’m not quitting, it’s hard for me to work as hard as I used to.”

On his charity: “In 1997, you pledged $1 billion to the U.N…..” Massell began.

“It’s all been paid,” Turner replied.

“That’s not the point of my question…,” Massell said.

“A billion dollars in cash …,” Turner said. “That’s a lot of money. I know. I found out the hard way.”

Massell continue: “You were the largest individual donor in the history of charity…”

“I did not even know it,” Turner said. “Who was second?”

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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