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A Coke Philanthropist, A Rambunctious Tycoon


On the topic of biggest whales in Atlanta history, we'd be remiss to not mention Coca-Cola magnate Robert Woodruff and media tycoon "Terrible Ted" Turner. A few years after Asa Candler stepped down from Coke in 1916, the Candler family sold the company to Woodruff's syndicate for a measly $25 million. Six years before his death in 1985, Woodruff and his brother kicked a $105 million contribution to Emory University — the largest donation ever made to a single educational institution at the time. The philanthropic effects of Woodruff's foundation will weigh on Atlanta's future; a $3 million gift to the Beltline announced in November should help connect the trail to the Historic Fourth Ward Park, and extend it to Glenwood Avenue.

Woodruff's former home in ritzy Tuxedo Park sits on seven manicured acres and was recently priced at more than $13 million. A broker described the home's aesthetic as "done in a sweeping Regency style, and decorated in that gracious, slightly old-fashioned style that fights with bare contemporary spaces for page space in Architectural Digest." Woodruff eventually gave Emory nearly a quarter billion bucks.

That philanthropic proficiency was outshined by CNN founder Ted Turner, who donated $1 billion — a mere third of his net worth — to the United Nations in the late 90s, after chastising other billionaires for their stinginess. In the early days, Turner was known around Atlanta for his audaciousness, fondness for beer and hands-on approach to lording over the Bravos. And the 74-year-old Tedster isn't slowing down. In an interview last year, he claimed to have four girlfriends.

As for wealth, Turner's ranch in New Mexico is 920 square miles, making it the largest privately owned, contiguous tract of land in the United States. Until 2011, he was America's largest private landowner, with about 2 million acres to his name (he's still the top bison owner, by headcount). Not bad for what began as an Atlanta billboard business.

· Big Donation Could Extend Beltline Trails Soon [Curbed Atlanta]
· Robert Woodruff [New Georgia Encyclopedia]
· Media mogul breeds controversy with buffalo, gives U.N. $1 billion [Great Falls Tribune]
· Ted Turner [Wikipedia]