Kirk Kerkorian was a self-made billionaire who made his fortune in the hotel and casino industry. Born in Fresno, California, in 1917, Kerkorian grew up in poverty, dropping out of school in the eighth grade to help support his family. He started his entrepreneurial journey at a young age, working as an amateur boxer and selling newspapers.
Kerkorian’s biggest challenge in his early years in business was gaining the trust of investors and banks. He had little formal education and no experience in the hotel or casino industry, and many saw him as a risk. However, Kerkorian’s persistence and drive paid off. He eventually gained the support of investors and banks, allowing him to finance his grand visions for the future of Las Vegas.
Kerkorian’s breakthrough in business came when he began flying charter flights to Las Vegas in the late 1940s. At the time, the city was still a small desert town with only a few casinos. Kerkorian saw the potential for growth and began buying and selling land in the area. He used his profits to purchase small planes and set up his own airline, which eventually became known as the world’s largest charter airline, MGM Grand Air.
Kerkorian’s ultimate success story came with the creation of MGM Resorts International. In 1969, he purchased the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, which at the time was the largest hotel in the world. Kerkorian saw an opportunity to create a destination resort that would attract visitors from around the world. He spent millions of dollars renovating the hotel and adding new amenities, including the largest casino in Las Vegas.
The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino became a huge success, and Kerkorian used the profits to invest in other properties on the Las Vegas Strip. He acquired the Desert Inn and built the International Hotel, which later became the Las Vegas Hilton. Kerkorian continued to expand his empire, purchasing the Mirage, Bellagio, and Treasure Island casino hotels.
One of the most notable things about Kerkorian’s success story was his willingness to take risks. He was never afraid to invest large sums of money in new projects, even if there was a chance of failure. Kerkorian also had a talent for recognizing talent in others and was known for surrounding himself with smart, capable people.
However, Kerkorian’s success was not without its challenges. He faced financial difficulties during the 2008 recession, and his CityCenter project was plagued by cost overruns and delays. Kerkorian also faced personal challenges, including a contentious paternity lawsuit and a divorce from his third wife.
Despite these challenges, Kerkorian remained focused on his vision for MGM Resorts International. He continued to make deals and invest in new properties, expanding the company’s reach beyond Las Vegas to destinations around the world.
Legacy and foundation
Kerkorian was known for his philanthropy, and he gave generously to a variety of causes throughout his life. He established the Lincy Foundation, which donated millions of dollars to support education, healthcare, and other initiatives. Kerkorian also donated hundreds of millions of dollars to fund medical research and other causes.
Kerkorian passed away in 2015 at the age of 98, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history. His impact on the hotel and casino industry, and on Las Vegas in particular, cannot be overstated.
Kirk Kerkorian’s net worth was estimated to be around $16 billion at the time of his death in 2015. As a self-made billionaire, he amassed his fortune through his investments in the hotel and casino industry, including the creation of MGM Resorts International, which became one of the largest and most successful casino and hotel companies in the world. Kerkorian’s legacy as a visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist continues to inspire people around the globe.
Kirk Kerkorian’s story is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and a willingness to take risks in pursuit of a dream.