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Steve Ballmer’s most incredible buy

By Dian Vujovich

Two billion dollars. Most people have no idea of how much power that kind of money wields. Or, how many zeros are in it. FYI, two billion dollars looks like this: $2,000,000,000.

(As an aside, better get used to the billionaire thing. It’s been estimated that the number of billionaires in the world is going to grow by 40 percent in 10 years.)

If you’re wondering about why all the hoopla, I figure it’s been for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is because the price tag was huge.

Last year, Forbes figured that the Clippers were worth $575 million. Paying way up for a team that’s not the greatest in the NBA league—and that the stadium isn’t part of the deal—doesn’t exactly make for a value investment.

But then again, he’s got the bread and can do with it whatever he chooses: Forbes ranks Ballmer #34 on it’s 400 World Billionaires list, with a net wroth estimated at $21 billion.

If that’s the case, Ballmer’s spent roughly 10 percent of his massive fortune on this not-so-hot team. Given that the value on a limited asset such as this depends strictly upon what someone is willing to pay for it, so what if he overpaid?

Plenty of ordinary people spend 10 percent of their net worth’s all the time—-houses, cars and college educations come to mind. We all over pay for all sorts of things we’ve always wanted. Gucci bags, Jimmy Choo shoes and a day at The Breakers Spa in season come to mind here.

And who knows, maybe being a professional basketball player was what Ballmer really wanted to be when he grew up? He is, after all, 6’5”.

Second, maybe he spent all of that money because he needed a job. Ballmer left his CEO stint at Microsoft in February of this year. Everything that I’ve read about newly retired, famous and wealthy CEOs states that adjusting to life after a super-power job isn’t easy. Ask any of their wives for verification on that point.

In the end, I don’t think it’s Ballmer’s money that really gripes people. I think it’s that Donald Sterling added $2 billion to his fortune not in a fair trade but because of a deal that came about due to his racist comments. There ought to be a penalty for that.

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