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‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ Tilman Fertitta to Speak at UM

Tilman Fertitta

Businessman Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Inc. and star of the CNBC reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer,” will share insights and advice Friday (May 5) at the University of Mississippi.

The 11:30 a.m. event at The Pavilion at Ole Miss is free and open to the public. The first 1,000 guests get a complimentary lunch and poster from the event, and will have an opportunity for Fertitta to autograph it personally.
The event is a collaboration between the university’s School of Business Administration, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, with assistance from Blake Tartt III, president and CEO of New Regional Planning, a real estate consulting firm in Houston, Texas.
“When we built The Pavilion at Ole Miss and opened the doors in January of 2016, our vision was to continue to make our university community the place to be for big-time events,” said Ross Bjork, vice chancellor of intercollegiate athletics. “Mr. Fertitta’s message about self-made success will be inspiring for our students and community leaders so they can see firsthand that anything is possible if you take the right approach and have a plan.
“We are grateful to be in a position to host these top-flight events and partner with the School of Business, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and our friend Blake Tartt.”
Fertitta, whose company owns and operates more than 500 properties with more than 40 brands, including Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s and Rainforest Cafe, will talk about his success and how others can apply what he has learned.
“For our students to be able to interact with one of the major business leaders in the United States is enormously satisfying,” said Will Norton, dean of the UM journalism school. “We are grateful to Blake Tartt III for making the arrangements to have Tilman Fertitta at Ole Miss.”
With a reported net worth of nearly $3 billion on Forbes’s list of the “world’s wealthiest people,” Fertitta is a self-made success. He started in the food business in Galveston, Texas, where he worked at his father’s restaurant after school.
He began selling Shaklee vitamins before following his dream of owning restaurants. The second-youngest inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Fertitta began as a partner in the first Landry’s restaurant in 1980 and bought a controlling interest in the company in 1986. Landry’s went public in 1993, and he took it private again nearly 20 years later in a $1.4 billion deal.
“We are excited to have Tilman Fertitta coming to campus to speak to our students, faculty, alumni, and friends,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean. “Tilman is an outstanding example for our stakeholders of what hard work, ingenuity, business acumen, recognizing opportunity and executing business strategies can create in a company.”
This is the second year the Ole Miss business and journalism schools and athletics department have collaborated for a significant event to cap the school year. Last year’s event brought urban visionary Joel Kotkin to campus for a message on the importance of planning in urban environments and creating quality of life in dense development settings.
“We wanted to top last year with a personality who was both entertaining and enlightening,” said Tartt, a UM alumnus and chairman of the business school’s real estate advisory board. “Who better to captivate our audience than a market leader with a perspective that no one else has?
“I’ve known Tilman since childhood and have worked with him on real estate developments for over 30 years. He’s a rare blend of creativity and candor, vision and veracity.”
Besides his business ventures, Fertitta is the chairman of the University of Houston’s board of regents, and he recently donated $20 million to renovate the Cougars’ basketball arena at the Fertitta Center.
“I’m eager for the attendees to have the opportunity to experience Fertitta’s rare blend of wit and wisdom,” Tartt said.
Lunch is provided by sponsors Renasant Bank, Evans Petree P.C., White Construction and HottyToddy.com.

Staff Report
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