Philip Anschutz was in his mid-20s when his father took ill and turned over to him the oil-drilling business. For awhile, every hole was a dry hole. Then in 1967 Anschutz hit black gold in Wyoming. Things looked great while the young driller used all the money he had and all he could borrow to buy up the oil leases surrounding his find. That euphoria lasted one day. The next day, a spark set the whole oil field aflame.
Most men facing certain bankruptcy would be paralyzed with hopelessness. Anschutz, looking at the blazing rigs, saw opportunity. Call Universal Studios and get a film crew out here. He had heard that Universal was filming a John Wayne movie about Paul “Red” Adair, legendary oil-field fire-fighting pioneer. The studio agreed to pay $100,000 for film footage of a real oil field fire. Anschutz cut the deal; Universal cut the check, and the film crew went to work. Now the young businessman had the money to hire the real “Red” Adair to come put out the fires.
The Wyoming fields produced a fortune, which Anschutz went on to multiply. He sold most of his oil fields to Mobil for half a billion dollars in 1982 and started buying railroads. Then he started laying fiber-optic cables along all his rail lines. Today he is on the Forbes list of America’s richest men with a net worth of $7.6 billion-with a “B.” (See Mark Moring, “Hollywood’s Hellfighter,” Christianity Today, Vol. 52, No. 6, May 2008, 46.)
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