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The Entrepreneur Factor

Lorenzo Fertitta has made entrepreneurship both lucrative and entertaining. As the co-founder/principal shareholder of Station Casinos Inc. and the majority owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Fertitta has made a business out of amusement. But he wasn’t always involved with this kind of business. Like many other conservative entrepreneurs, he initially settled for low-risk ventures like real-estate property.

So how did the traditional entrepreneur enter the world of casinos and mixed martial arts?

It started in 1991, when he co-founded Station Casinos with his older brother. He initially served as a member of the board of directors before becoming president in 2000. His real-estate experience proved to be useful in this venture as he led the company to dominate the local casino market in Las Vegas, purchasing several sites that were entitled for gaming. After almost two decades in the casino business, he decided to pursue other interests and step down from his position. Within a year of his resignation, Station Casinos filed for bankruptcy.

For Fertitta, however, it was just the beginning.

With the encouragement of childhood friend, Dana White, who was at that time a martial arts trainer, Fertitta purchased a huge stake of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In a rare interview, he admitted that this decision was the kind that “people with a lot of money are not supposed to have.” Back then, UFC was just a fringe sport with a small following – with even smaller returns.

Despite this, Fertitta saw an opportunity. He believed that UFC could be big, providing it had the right direction and leadership. He founded Zuffa, a sports promotion company, which is responsible for introducing mixed martial arts as a sport to the public. With this venture, Fertitta landed on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans.

 

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