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Play the game: ‘Which Seattle billionaire would you be?’

Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos. (AP)

There’s this stupid game I play with myself when reading a story about one of our local billionaires. I call it “Which Kind of Billionaire Would I Be?”

I know it’s silly, but track with me for a minute. It’s the same thing people would do when “Sex In The City” was popular and you’d have to pick which character you are.

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There’s a story out today by Business Insider about Jeff Bezos’ mansion collection.

For some reason, it took me off guard for a second. I have always heard that Bezos was modest by billionaire standards. That he drove around in a Volvo, wearing jeans and sneakers. You know, just another typical dude from the Pacific Northwest, only a multi-billionaire. Turns out he has a mansion collection from Medina to Beverly Hills.

Who knew?

Don’t get me wrong. I knew about the space rocket company. And I knew about him buying the Washington Post. I chalked that up to him liking rockets and newspapers. Those acquisitions still stuck with my perception of the geeky billionaire narrative.

But now I’m not so sure. Maybe Bezos is more eccentric than I gave him credit for. I’m going to need to adjust things in my billionaire game.

If you’d like to play along, here are the categories for the local edition. You can be a Bill Gates, a Paul Allen, or a Jeff Bezos.

Bill Gates

If you choose Bill, you think that you would conquer the computing world, dominate an industry, then meet the love of your life and give it all away with the same ruthless precision that did with Microsoft. If you’re a Bill Gates, you’d allow yourself some perks like the lakefront mansion, Porche collection, and private jets, but you wouldn’t do silly billionaire things like build your own spacecraft. You’d be too busy eradicating malaria worldwide.

Paul Allen

If you choose to be a Paul Allen, here’s where you get to fly your freak flag a bit. You’d make your billions, then proceed to do whatever you want, all while still carving out time to be a civic minded philanthropist. You’d buy an NFL team. And an NBA team. Have a fighter jet collection and your own submarine to go along with some of the biggest yachts on the planet. You’d own your own island in the San Juans and amass the world’s greatest Jimi Hendrix artifact collection.

You’d hire your pal Frank Gehry to build you a building and you’d show off your flying recording studio to your pals Bono and The Edge. Then you’d decide to map the human brain after you buy up several square miles of downtown Seattle. You know, just Paul being Paul.

Jeff Bezos

And now you can choose to be a Bezos billionaire. He’s still a bit fuzzy for me. But if you choose to be a Bezos, it looks like you build what will probably become the first trillion-dollar company in the history of the world. Then you evidently quietly cash out chunks of Amazon stock to fund your hobbies. Building space rockets, buying newspapers, and collecting mansions, all while driving your Volvo to sit in your new glass orbs filled with exotic plants from around the world. You’d do quirky things like give out thousands of free bananas just because you think it’s funny.


For me, there’s no contest. I’d be a Paul Allen billionaire for sure. I’d like to think I’d give back in a big way, but I doubt I’d ever do it like Gates. Who are we kidding? I don’t think I have that in me. But now this Bezos kid is coming on strong in my imaginary game. Now that I’ve learned about the mansion collection, who knows, there might be all kinds of surprises we don’t know about him. He already looks like Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Maybe he has a secret lair built inside a volcano ready to take over the world?

But for now, I’d definitely be a Paul Allen.

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