It’s a common fantasy: If you suddenly received a huge pile of money, what would be the first thing you buy? A new hat? A car? A house? A paradise island? All of them, with an NBA team or two on the side? Even someone like Bill Gates, a man famously sitting on a bigger mountain of cash than some countries, once wrestled with that particular question. As CNBC Make It tells us, the Microsoft mastermind and YouTube superstar had to decide what his first purchase would be when Microsoft went public in March 1986, which gave his stake at the company a market value of a cool $350 million. He didn’t celebrate this with a fleet of new helicopters, or a magnificent 30-course restaurant meal in the most expensive restaurant he could find, though. And as anyone who has ever seen him knows, he certainly didn’t buy a nice suit. Instead, he made a financially sound, boring move and treated himself to a debt-free existence by paying off his $150,000 mortgage.
Sure, that’s a very smart idea, but on the other hand, booooo! Could “Oh well, I’ll just deal with the mortgage now,” really have been his first instinct when he came into money? Did the man not even consider treating himself with a single “Whoa, I can actually afford this now” -themed splurge purchase? Anything? Anything at all? [laughter] Ha, of course he did! You may think he’s a robot, but Gates is actually a human being, too. The thing to remember here is that March 1986 was not really the first time Bill Gates had a thick wallet. Sure, the year marked the point when he started having the kind of wealth most people can’t even comprehend, but he actually started making decent money off his company way back in 1979. While his net worth was not yet anywhere near the hundreds of millions he would later possess, he still had money to spare, and he decided to indulge on one self-admitted splurge: A Porsche 911 supercar. To be fair, though, CNBC notes that Gates made even this vanity purchase with careful consideration.
Gates bought the Porsche used, and says that he treated it as a workhorse rather than a showpiece: He drove it long, hard and fast around the New Mexico desert, to a point where he was once arrested and had to call Paul Allen to bail him out. Gates said of his beloved car, “Sometimes when I would want to think at night, I would just go out and drive around at high speed.
Fortunately, I didn’t kill myself doing that.” Though the Porsche 911 was his first cool car with a capital C, it wouldn’t be his last. Turns out, Gates is a bit of a car guy, and he later added several toys to his four-wheeled collection, including a Ferrari 348 and a Jaguar XJ6. Even in his later years, Business Insider says Gates remains an “avid luxury-car collector,” and one of the most prized vehicles in his possession is reportedly a rare Porsche 959 sports car. Interestingly, Bill Gates still seems to consider his first Porsche one of his only two major “guilty pleasure” purchases. Business Insider tells us that as recently as 2018, the billionaire said that the car and the $40 million private jet he bought later are the only “crazy things” he has spent money on. “I often use a private plane, and that is very extravagant.” Of course, whether you believe that or not depends heavily on your personal definition of the word “crazy.” After all, there’s the small matter of his $127 million home that features countless amenities only the richest of the rich could ever dare to dream of.
According to Business Insider, the 66,000 square-foot mansion complex is called Xanadu 2.0, and it’s located in Medina, Washington. Xanadu 2.0 has seven bedrooms, six kitchens and 24 bathrooms, ten of which have actual baths. There’s a 200-person reception hall, a personal cinema, and all the usual super-rich jazz. But Gates is not your average super-rich dude, is he now? As one of the absolute richest people on the globe, he’s got trampoline room money, which is precisely why the place features its own trampoline room. Now that’s more like it!