Believe it or not, many American millionaires grew up in environments quite different from the luxury lifestyles they enjoy today. Some cleaned toilets or sold items door-to-door, while others slept on dirt floors with no running water at home. But what they all have in common is that they worked hard for those Bentleys, Rolex watches, and Brioni suits.
Comedian Joan Rivers’ new, money-obsessed show, How’d You Get So Rich?, gets to the bottom of how some of the nation’s richest people made their fortunes and, most importantly, how they spend it. During her six-episode reality show, Rivers spotlighted two South Florida multimillionaires, Robert Zarco and Peter Loftin, in her premiere and second episode.
Zarco, a trial attorney specializing in franchise law, shares a waterfront estate on Miami Beach’s North Bay Road with his wife Veronica and their blended family. With five children—three his and two hers—Rivers commented they were “like a rich Brady Bunch.” The Zarcos’ driveway is adorned with a $247,000 Bentley, an $186,500 Aston Martin, and $250,000 1922 Buick—all earned with plenty of elbow grease. Inside this home, he points out a $40,000 chandelier purchased in Venice and a hand-painted mural of him and his wife, ringing in at $50,000. He also owns three boats, one of them being a four-bedroom, $3.5 million yacht.
After emigrating with his family from Cuba, Zarco held three jobs to help support his family starting at age seven. He helped pay for his undergraduate studies at Harvard as a dorm crew employee cleaning toilets and sinks. While on a 24-day, 11-country European vacation with his wife, he told the Miami Herald, “I am an example of a rags-to-riches story. I hope it will motivate others to work hard, commit themselves to whatever industry or business they choose. By always doing the right thing and not cheating or hurting others, you can become an American success.”
Peter Loftin is a telecom entrepreneur; the proud owner of Casa Casuarina, Versace’s former South Beach mansion; and a college dropout. He took Rivers on a tour of his exclusive $19 million luxury boutique hotel featuring 10 lavish suites and a $500,000 mosaic swimming pool. In his younger years, Loftin left North Carolina State University to sell cordless phones in wealthier neighborhoods door-to-door at night. Later he founded BTI, a long distance telephone company, and then sold it for $138 million. He also owns a $32 million dollar residence in his native North Carolina.
Via Miami Herald