Legendary investor Carl Icahn nearly came to tears on Sunday during a Wall Street Week interview with hosts Anthony Scaramucci and Gary Kaminsky.
What got the multibillionaire so emotional? His relationship with his father.
Icahn explained that, through the late 1970s, as he started to become pretty successful in finance, his father never asked him what he did for a living — or how he did it.
But he had a life-changing moment on a visit with his parents in Florida, when his father finally pulled him aside, handed him a yellow notepad, and said, “‘Here, explain to me what you do.'”
“I hugged him and said, ‘You finally admit it,'” Icahn said. “It still makes me cry for some reason.”
It sounds like they may have had a strained relationship: Icahn, who grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens, said his parents would only pay for his college education if he got into Yale, Harvard, or Princeton.
They never anticipated that he would actually apply, let alone get accepted.
“My parents never thought I’d amount to too much,” he said.
But when Icahn shocked them by getting into Princeton, his father, true to their deal, offered to pay the tuition. He did not, however, pay his room and board — so Icahn got a summer job as a cabana boy at Malibu Beach Club.
He started playing poker with the guests, and by the end of the summer he had earned himself $US2,000 — well and above the $US750 he needed for room and board.
“You know, I was a hustler,” he said.
Icahn’s grandfather, who lived with his parents, told him not to tell his parents how much he’d made, and instead hid all of Icahn’s savings for him for the next 4 years.
By the time he left college, Icahn said, he’d had amassed about $US10,000 from playing poker.
“To this day, I’ll never know why my father and mother never asked me where I got the money,” he said.
Watch the full interview here.