Ted Turner’s Net Worth: How the Famous CNN Founder Made His Money

Ted Turner, the famous media mogul who founded CNN, recently revealed that he has Lewy body dementia, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “It’s a mild case of what people have as Alzheimer’s,” Turner explained in an interview with CBS. “It’s similar to that. But not nearly as bad. Alzheimer’s is fatal. Thank goodness I don’t have that,” he noted. (Even though one 2006 study found that Lewy body dementia increases the risk of mortality compared with Alzheimer’s disease.)

“But, I also  have got, let’s — the one that’s — I can’t remember the name of it.” He eventually said, “Dementia. I can’t remember what my disease is.” Turner noted that fatigue and forgetfulness are two symptoms of the disease. Turner said he was misdiagnosed with manic depression before learning the real cause of his “euphoric highs and dark lows.”

Turner may have forgotten his diagnosis. But he probably hasn’t forgotten his life’s work, including launching CNN, the first 24-hours news station. As the founder of CNN, Turner has an impressive net worth. Ahead, find out everything you need to know about Ted Turner’s net worth. Discover how he amassed his fortune. And learn who he plans to leave his money to when he passes away.

Ted Turner’s net worth exceeds $2 billion

Ted Turner

Ted Turner’s net worth is impressive. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Forbes estimates Ted Turner’s net worth at $2.2 billion. The publication also notes that he can claim to be a self-made billionaire. Turner served in the Coast Guard and then began his career at his father’s advertising firm. Turner took control of the firm in 1963, after his father’s suicide. (Biography reports that Turner’s father had bipolar disorder. Years later, Turner would discover that he had it, too.) He eventually turned his father’s business — which had sold billboard ads — into Turner Broadcasting. He founded CNN in 1980. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that he built the venture, which was “originally derided as ‘Chicken Noodle News,’ into a hugely profitable news operation with bureaus all over the world.” His media empire would also include Cartoon Network and TNT.

Selling CNN to Time Warner cost him about $8 billion

Ted Turner’s net worth might look even more impressive today had he made a different decision in 1996. That was the year that he sold Turner Broadcasting to Time Warner. The selling price? $7.3 billion in stock. That sounds great. But when Time Warner merged with AOL, Ted Turner “saw his fortune tumble as shares dropped,” Forbes reports.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that Turner “was fired from the company in 2000, soon after the merger with AOL that cost him $8 billion of his then-$10 billion fortune.” Turner once told Christiane Amanpour that he would never get over being pushed out of the company. “You’ve got to be able to take some disappointment in life, too,” Turner explained. “You just have to roll with the punches [when] adversity hits you.”

He’s one of the biggest landowners in the U.S., and the first celebrity to give away $1 billion

Forbes reports that Ted Turner ranks as the second-largest individual landowner in the United States. He owns about 2 million acres of land across the country. He once owned a private island off the coast of South Carolina, Turner also owns 51,000 bison and ranches in Argentina. On a related note, he also established a steakhouse chain called Ted’s Montana Grill, which serves bison.

Turner has also channeled some of his net worth into philanthropy. In fact, he famously gave $1 billion to the United Nations. The Richest reports that Turner may have been the first celebrity to give away $1 billion. Plus, he once “criticized other billionaires for not giving money away while they were young and still had energy and ideas.”

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, “Unlike some of his peers, such as Rupert Murdoch and John Malone, Turner is no longer active in the media world and has kept himself largely out of the public eye for the past 15 years, doing interviews sparingly.” He spends much of his time on his 113,000-acre ranch in Montana. But Turner still keeps a penthouse downtown Atlanta, with a view of CNN headquarters.

His family won’t inherit all — or even much — of Ted Turner’s fortune

Biography reports that Ted Turner has married and divorced three times. His most famous marriage was his third, to actress and activist Jane Fonda. (They married in 1991 and divorced in 2001.) Turner has five children: two from his first marriage to Judy Gale Nye and three from his second marriage to Jane Shirley Smith. When Turner is no longer around, however, his children probably won’t inherit all of his vast net worth.

CNN reports that in 2010, Turner was named “among 40 billionaires pledging half or more of their fortune to charity through ‘The Giving Pledge’ campaign.” The New York Times reported in the 1990s that Turner’s plan was that his “vast holdings would go into a trust for Mr. Turner’s three sons and two daughters, and then be transferred to the Ted Turner Foundation upon the children’s deaths.” Turner had already begun to give money away to philanthropic causes at the time. And later, when he signed the “Giving Pledge,” Turner wrote that “At the time of my death, virtually all my wealth will have gone to charity.”

After all, he told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution that he worried about the kind of world that his five children and 11 grandchildren would inherit. “I really love the planet and the people and animals and the insects and the birds on it,” he said.”I’d really like to see it preserved for future generations.”

Read more: These Are the Cities Where Millionaires Live in America

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