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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!