Super Geek Seeks Super Bowl Win

Microsoft co-founder and geek philanthropist Paul Allen has another potential winner on his hands, as his Seattle Seahawks prepare to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

February 3, 2006

3 Min Read

When future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen fired up the sole minicomputer at Seattle's Lakeside School with his secondary school pal Bill Gates in the 1960s, he had no idea that one day he would be the toast of Seattle, not for his computer legacy, but for his ownership of the Seattle Seahawks.

Allen's oyster, the Seattle Seahawks, will meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl in Detroit on Sunday. Grateful Seattle fans have begun to celebrate the Seahawks winning season and its owner, the geek who wears white tennis shoes and a baseball cap, and who cheers his team as loudly as the most excited fan.

When the Seahawks win--a regular occurrence this season--an enthusiastic Allen often greets the players in the locker room. The players say they are intimidated to be around $21 billion on-the-hoof, but they appreciate the attention from an involved owner.

The former ace programmer is still a geek at heart: he often communicates with Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren via e-mail.

If there was a hint of football things to come when Allen was a secondary school student, it was his attendance at University of Washington football games with his father.

"My father, who passed away about 20 years ago, and going to the games with him at Husky Stadium, to think back on that…," an emotional Allen told journalists this week. "It's just so rewarding and heartwarming." When he bought the Seahawks Allen said he wanted to recreate the atmosphere he and his father experienced at Husky Stadium. Today Seahawk fans are famed for their near-hysterical cheering at games.

Until his current runaway success with the Seahawks, the co-founder of Microsoft was known also for his lousy investments--according to published reports he had lost as much as $10 billion after leaving Microsoft in 1983--much of it when the technology bubble burst. Forbes Magazine, however, says Allen's $21 billion still makes him one of the world's richest men.

The Seahawks represent a profitable investment for Allen, who is also leading a massive building project in Seattle. His Vulcan Inc. investment arm has outlined plans to build a 10,000-unit housing development and a biotech hub in Seattle. Allen has supported a wide variety of charities ranging from computer museums to brain research. A science fiction buff, he developed the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame; he is also a principal backer of the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project.

What's next for a man who can have anything he wants?

A look back at his secondary school days may provide a hint. At age 12, Allen exhibited an interest in rocketry when he fashioned a rocket from an aluminum armchair leg, and stuffed it with zinc and sulfur. But the homemade rocket melted at liftoff –the young engineer had forgotten to check the melting point of aluminum.

His sponsorship of the SpaceShipOne project, which has already accomplished impressive space flight missions, could be next in line for the man, if his team wins the Super Bowl.

Allen has said he might consider taking a space flight of his own. If he does, he is certain to check the melting point of spacecraft materials.

Listen to Paul Allen discuss NFL franchise ownership and management in an interview with Newsradio 710 KIRO .

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