Published: Tue, July 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Billionaire former presidential candidate Ross Perot is dead at 89

Billionaire former presidential candidate Ross Perot is dead at 89

Independent presidential candidate and wealthy philanthropist Ross Perot has passed away at the age of 89, after a battle with leukemia.

As a boy in Texarkana, Texas, Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony.

Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996, and became something of a pop culture phenomenon for his quirky self-funded TV campaign infomercials, parodied on Saturday Night Live and late night talk shows.

During a presidential debate in the 1992 race opposite George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Perot scored a major laugh line with a nod to his appearance.

Yet the most famous event in his career didn't involve sales and earnings; he financed a private commando raid in 1979 to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran.

Perot's was truly a grassroots campaign.

"In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action", a spokesman for the family said in a statement to CNBC.

Perot was born on June 27, 1930, in Texarkana, TX, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1953.

He was known for his catchphrase the "giant sucking sound", referring to American jobs that would head to Mexico because of NAFTA.

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He made his fortune in the tech industry, founding Electronic Data Systems in 1962 and Perot Systems in 1988.

EDS first sold stock to the public in 1968, and overnight, Perot was worth $350 million.

A billionaire by his mid-50s after he sold a controlling interest in the data processing business he founded, Electronic Data Systems Corporation, to General Motors for $2.5 billion, Perot mounted one of the most successful third-party presidential candidacies in USA history in 1992. He retired as CEO in 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Ross Perot Jr.

According to the paper, "As of July, Forbes estimated Perot's wealth at $4.1 billion, making him the 478th-richest person in the world".

He is survived by his wife, Margot, his sister, and five children.

He championed patriotic causes, and in the late 1970s and 1980s claimed that hundreds of missing USA soldiers had been left behind and imprisoned after the Vietnam War.

Perot was diagnosed with leukemia in February and received a secondary infection in March that his family said almost killed him.

He would eventually be honored for this activism, receiving an award from then-Secretary of Veteran Affairs James Peake in 2009.

At the Perot Systems headquarters he kept mementoes, including his childhood bicycle and a walking stick believed to have belonged to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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