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Ted Turner

Billionaire philanthropist, cattle breeder, owner of a restaurant chain, and ex-media mogul; Born: November 19, 1938 in Cincinnati, OH

Headshot of Ted Turner


  • Classics, later Economics Major at Brown University (1956-1960)

One of Ted Turner's greatest heroes has always been Alexander the Great, so at Brown University, he decided to major in Classics. His choice of major made his father, who ran a billboard advertising company, "almost puke," as he wrote in a now famous letter to his son.

Ted Turner did change his major to Economics, yet not before leaking the letter to the press (reprinted in Arion 1.1 (1990) 237-39; click on "Autolycus" link below).

Expelled from college in his senior year for having a female visitor in his dorm room, he finally joined his father's billboard business and turned it into a huge media-conglomerate.

Over time, he launched CNN, the first 24-hour all-news network, founded Turner Network Television (TNT), the Cartoon Network, and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and acquired sports franchises like the Atlanta Braves.

Currently, Mr. Turner heads the Turner Foundation, which is devoted to the protection of the environment; the United Nations Foundation, which in 1999 donated $28 million to help eradicate Polio world-wide; and, together with former Senator Sam Nunn, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a charitable organization working to reduce the risk of use and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In addition, he breeds cattle and supplies the meat to a chain of restaurants he founded.

Ted Turner about himself and Alexander the Great

"They laughed at me when I started CNN. They laughed at me when I bought the Braves. They laughed at me when I bought M-G-M. I spent a lot of time thinking, and I did not fear, because of my classical background. When Alexander the Great took control when his dad died, he was twenty years old. He took the Macedonian Army, which was the best army in the world at the time, and conquered Greece, got the Greeks to all join with him, and then marched across the Hellespont and invaded Asia. They didn't even know where the world ended at that time. And he was dead at thirty-three, thirteen years later. He kept marching. He hardly ever stopped. And he never lost a battle."

(Source: Ken Auletta, "The Lost Tycoon," The New Yorker, April 23&30, 2001, p. 151)

Willamette University

Classical Studies

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