Kerry Packer was arguably one of Australia’s most prominent and wealthiest men that ever lived. He made significant contributions to different sectors of the Australian economy, most notably the media and sports industry.
Despite his family’s media background and wealth, Packer’s success was not exclusively attributable to his privileged upbringing. His attention-grabbing personality, controversial lifestyle, high-stake gambling, and audacity in making business decisions made him the legendary figure that he is today. Not many love his approach, but ultimately, his name remains indelible in the annals of history as one of the world’s greatest media tycoons and gamblers.
Early Life, Education, and Family
Kerry Packer’s childhood was far from smooth, contrary to what many may have envisioned. He was born in December 1937 as the second child to the media tycoon Sir Frank Packer and his mother, Gretel Bullmore. Packer attended Geelong Grammar School, Cranbrook School, and Canberra Grammar School. Unfortunately, he was not the brightest and struggled academically. In fact, he was often referred to by his father as the “family idiot.”
However, all of that didn’t matter when his father died in 1974. Although Kerry Packer had an older brother, Clyde, he already had a fallout with his father before his death. Eventually, Kerry Packer inherited his father’s entire fortune, including the family estate valued at an estimated $100 million at the time.
Across the entire Vegas Strip, down to the world’s best casinos, Packer will always be remembered as one of the highest rollers in the history of gambling. Casino executives prepared for him as though they were expecting an extraterrestrial being. That’s because his presence can be very intimidating for everyone.
On one such occasion, it was reported that the dealers at The Mirage: Las Vegas could not find the key to their baccarat table. They knew what it meant to keep Australia’s richest man waiting. In order not to incur his wrath, they grabbed an ashtray to smash open the baccarat table. Impressed by what he had seen, Packer, after enjoying a good spell, made a $100,000 bet on behalf of the dealers.
Each time Packer visited any casino, there was always a tale to tell. His favorite game was baccarat, and he was known for placing bets that many others would only imagine in their mind. As long as the casino allowed it, he wagered the highest stakes, running into millions of dollars. Once, he sat at a table, and a random Texan requested to join. Packer clearly did not want the companion, but the Texan insisted by saying, “I’m a big player too. I’m worth $100 million”. In his response, Packer brought out a coin from his pocket and said to him, “I’ll flip you for it,” and the Texan had no option but to return to his table.
Indeed, not every player, just like the Texan, has what it takes to stake like Packer. Some players resort to the best deposit casino bonus in Australia so they can get an additional signup bonus to boost their stake.
Contribution to the Australian Sports Industry
One of Packer’s most enduring contributions is to the Australian cricket industry. He singlehandedly launched and revolutionized the World Series Cricket in the 70s using his wits and wealth. He would gather the most popular cricketers, have them wear colorful costumes, and play for a day. Of course, he had the sole broadcasting rights on Channel Nine, which did not go down well with other media houses.
There were also issues of rebellion when outstanding players left their teams just to join the Packers project. As someone who would not back down to anyone, Packer had already prepared himself for any challenge. It was said that he hired the best lawyers so he could solely maintain broadcasting rights and destabilize the traditional status quo. His commitment stretched further beyond cricket. He also influenced other sports like rugby, polo, basketball, and horse racing.
Other Major Highlights and Controversies
Packer’s life was always at the center of controversies. Whether it was about business or his gambling exploits and personal life, there was always something different about his approach. He once broke into a small rival publisher, Anglican Press, after the owner refused to sell to his father in 1960.
Likewise, he was also known for interfering with programs on his TV stations. He was also at the center of a few controversies of tax evasion, extra-marital affairs, and bribery.
Above all, many considered Packer as one of the most audacious gamblers alongside the likes of Terrance Watanabe and Edward Davis. Certainly, there are many legendary high rollers with similar lifestyles as Packer. Nevertheless, there is no denying that Packer had some of the biggest wins and losses ever recorded in the gambling industry. In 1999, he won 33 million at the MGM Grand Casino, among other landmark wins. However, his losses were just as colossal. In 1999, he lost about $28 million at London casinos, which was the highest in British history. He once went on a three-day losing streak totaling $16.5 million.