The First Thing Bill Gates Bought When He Got Rich

It's a common fantasy: If you suddenly received a huge pile of money, what would be the first thing you buy? New clothes? A car? A house? A paradise island? All of them, with an NBA team or two on the side? Even someone like Bill Gates, a man famously sitting on a bigger mountain of cash than some countries, once wrestled with that particular question. As CNBC Make It tells us, the Microsoft and Xbox magician has been known to tell the story of his first purchase when Microsoft went public in March 1986, which gave his stake at the company a market value of a cool $350 million. He didn't celebrate this with a new helicopter, or a magnificent 30-course restaurant meal in the most expensive restaurant he could find. As anyone who has ever seen the man can attest, he certainly didn't buy a nice suit. Instead, he made a financially sound, boring move and treated himself to a debt-free existence by paying off his $150,000 mortgage. 

Sure, that's perfectly clever, but on the other hand, booooo. Could "Oh well, I'll just deal with the mortgage now," really be his first instinct when he came into money? Did the man not even consider treating himself with a single "Whoa, I can actually afford this now" -themed splurge purchase? Anything? Anything at all?

The first thing Bill Gates bought when he got rich was a supercar

Ha, of course he did. The thing to remember here is that March 1986 was not the first time Bill Gates had a thick wallet. Sure, the year marked the point when he started having the kind of wealth most people can't even comprehend, but he actually started making decent money off his company way back in 1979. While his net worth was not yet anywhere near the hundreds of millions (let alone billions) he would later possess, he still had money to spare, and he decided to indulge on one self-admitted splurge: A Porsche 911 supercar. Now, that's more like it!

To be fair, though, CNBC notes that Gates made even this vanity purchase with careful consideration. The Microsoft man bought the Porsche used, and says that he treated it as a workhorse rather than a showpiece: He drove it long, hard and fast around the New Mexico desert, to a point where he was once arrested and had to call Paul Allen to bail him out. "Sometimes when I would want to think at night, I would just go out and drive around at high speed," Gates says about his beloved vehicle. "Fortunately, I didn't kill myself doing that."

Though the Porsche 911 was his first cool car with a capital C, it wouldn't be his last. Turns out, Gates is a bit of a car guy, and he later added several toys to his four-wheeled collection, including a Ferrari 348 and a Jaguar XJ6. Even in his later years, Business Insider says Gates remains an "avid luxury-car collector," and one of the most prized vehicles in his possession is reportedly a rare Porsche 959 sports car.

What else does Bill Gates buy with his riches?

Interestingly, Bill Gates still seems to consider his first Porsche one of his only two major "guilty pleasure" purchases. Business Insider tells us that as recently as 2018, the billionaire said that the car and the $40 million private jet he bought later are the only "crazy things" he has spent money on. 

Of course, whether you believe that or not depends heavily on your personal definition of the word "crazy." After all, there's the small matter of his $127 million home that features countless amenities only the richest of the rich could ever dare to dream of. According to Business Insider, the 66,000 square-foot mansion complex is called Xanadu 2.0, and it's located in Medina, Washington. Xanadu 2.0 has seven bedrooms, six kitchens and 24 bathrooms, ten of which have actual baths. There's a 200-person reception hall, a personal cinema, a super-valuable private library (featuring an actual Leonardo da Vinci manuscript, naturally) and all the usual super-rich jazz. But Gates is not your average super-rich dude, is he now? As one of the absolute richest people on the globe, he's got trampoline room money, which is precisely why the place features its own trampoline room. The lot also features an artificial stream (complete with fish) and a beach (the sand is imported from the Caribbean). Oh, and everything is filled to the brim with every high-tech amenity you can dream of. So maybe, just maybe, multi-billionaires define "crazy things" a bit differently than the rest of us.