Boone Pickens

The 77-year-old iconic Dallas bidnessman on oil and water, making tons of money late in life, and sticking up for the little guy.

Evan Smith: You bought 65,000 surface acres of water rights in Roberts County in 2003, adding to the 25,000 acres you already own, and you recently tried to make a deal with ranchers there to buy 94,000 for what would have been the region’s highest average price ever: $455 per acre. Frankly, a lot of people in the Panhandle are wondering what you’re up to. After all, you’re Boone Pickens—you must be working an angle.

Boone Pickens: I cut two ways up there. There’s no question that they see me as philanthropic. I’ve given a lot to the area, and I haven’t made any money off water rights—zero. On that attempted purchase, I would have been up to a $100 million investment, and I haven’t made a dime. At the same time, I think there’s a little resentment because I moved from Amarillo to Dallas. I mean, I’ve heard the remarks: See how it is

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