How blackjack saved FedEx 

If you’ve browsed some of our previous articles, you’ll know that there are some truly phenomenal stories when it comes to blackjack wins. We’ve looked at players, such as Don Johnson, who have mastered the game and gone on to win millions of dollars. While these stories are definitely inspiring, they tend to start with people who already have money, and who can afford to play at high stake tables. This story is about Blackjack and FedEx. 

The story here is a little different. This is about a business that was on its knees. It’s how a founder took a huge chance and used blackjack to turn things around. Now, this is not something that we ever suggest that you should do, but that doesn’t take away from how awe-inspiring this story is. 

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FedEx and Blackjack

FedEx – the early idea

This is a story that has gone down in the history books as being truly legendary. It goes back to the early days of FedEx. This was a time when FedEx was a newcomer to the scene and it was nowhere near establishing itself as the billion-dollar business that we know today. What took FedEx from zero to a worldwide success story is, to some degree, thanks to blackjack.

The idea for FedEx was originally that of Fred Smooth. While at college, he had the idea that, by using a unique shipping strategy, products could be delivered far faster than they were being by other companies. Smith used this seed of an idea as the topic for his college paper. He was awarded a rather underwhelming C.

It appeared that Smith’s professor was far from being a fan of Smith’s idea, but that wasn’t going to hold him back. In 1971, he went on to form FedEx: the company that we all know today.

It took a couple of years before FedEx was ready to open for business, and it saw some impressive successes in the early days. However, profits began to fall as expenses rose and soon the business found itself in a dire situation.

The saviour of the company was to be found in the most unlikely of places – the blackjack tables of Las Vegas.

Blackjack and FedEx – The last $5,000

FedEx was in a less-than-ideal situation. The early success had seemed so promising, but now Smith had to face a hard reality. The company was down its last few thousand in the bank and there were no more funds coming. Options with bank loans and investors had been exhausted and Smith was left with the possibility of the company folding.

Now, in this situation, many of us would be seeking some serious professional advice. We’d want to know what other funding options existed and what the process was to wind the company up. Fortunately, Smith wasn’t quite like many of us. Rather than lay down and accept the inevitable, Smith took an unconventional approach: he headed to Las Vegas to play a little blackjack.

It seems that luck was on Smith’s side, and over the course of the weekend, blackjack led to a boost to FedEx’s bank balance.

Explaining to a co-founder

By Monday morning, FedEx had seen its $5,000 bank balance increase to a much healthier $27k. The thing is, FedEx also had a co-founder, Robert Frock, and he was a little surprised to see the money hit the account. Of course, he had to challenge Smith and find out what had gone over the weekend. He was less than impressed when he discovered that Smith had been gambling with the company’s last remaining funds.

Smith explained his reasoning. He knew that with the $5k, the business was done for. There was no way that FedEx could have paid for fuel and there was no way that any items could have been shipped. Had he lost the $5k, the business was in no worse a state than it already had been. As it was, there was now enough in the bank to prop the company up for at least another week.

Blackjack and FedEx – Securing the future

In fact, Smith’s blackjack winnings went further than keeping the business going for a week. The $27k allowed fuel bills to be paid for another month, and this was long enough for Smith and Frock to demonstrate the true viability of the company.

The result of all of this? Well, Smith managed to secure $11 million in funding. These funds were enough to allow FedEx to grow and reach a position where it could sustain its own growth. Without those blackjack winnings, this simply would never have happened.

A word of warning

It’s important to stress that Smith got lucky. No matter how well you know blackjack, heading to Vegas and gambling with your last dollars is hardly advisable. The reality is that the story of Smith is an exceptional one. There are plenty of people who have been in similar situations and have found themselves losing it all.

The thing is, Smith wasn’t even a professional gambler. He knew little about blackjack other than the basic blackjack rules, and there is no doubt that the outcome was all down to luck. That level of luck only visits once in a while, and we’d suggest that it’s really not worth taking the risk.

Final thoughts 

The story of FedEx is one of those that dreams are made of. You can look at this and get a real sense of something special, but it’s important not to get carried away. Things could have gone very differently for Smith and he could easily have found himself in a very different situation.

When it comes to playing blackjack, or any form of gambling, you need to wager within your means. You need to be sticking to a budget and never gambling more than you can afford to lose.

Playing blackjack properly means understanding how to manage your bankroll. It also means taking the time to learn the likes of basic blackjack strategy and card counting. However, even with these skills under your belt, you should never risk it all at a blackjack table. 

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