The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Ebbers

A bar bouncer turned telecom billionaire, he's now out of a job and $366 million in debt. But he still has faith

Way back in 1998 when the economy still was new, WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers was clinching his acquisition of long-distance giant MCI, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson had a bone to pick with him. Speaking at Tougaloo College--a cradle of the civil rights movement located near Clinton, Miss., where WorldCom is headquartered--Jackson rhetorically asked his audience why Ebbers could afford $37 billion for MCI but hadn't donated funds to local black students. Ebbers wasn't present, but LeRoy Walker Jr., a leading black businessman and Tougaloo board member, pulled Jackson aside to set him straight: Ebbers had given Tougaloo more than $1...

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