Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman wasn’t always rich.
The Chairman / CEO of the Omega Family Office was born the son of Polish working class immigrants grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in New York’s South Bronx. His father was a plumber.
“I’m the first generation in my American-born family, the first generation to go to college,” said 77-year-old Cooperman in a CNBC interview Tuesday night.
“All of my education is based on public schools.”
He graduated from Hunter College, a public college that is part of City College of New York, and attended Columbia Business School thanks to a student loan from the National Defense Act. He did his MBA in 1967 and got his first job at Goldman Sachs.
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“I started my career on Wall Street with a 6 month old kid [and] a negative fortune because I had student loans and no money in the bank, “Cooperman said.
After 25 years, he left Goldman Sachs and founded his own hedge fund Omega Advisors in 1991.
In 2018 he turned it into a family officeand said he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life chasing it S&P 500. The year before, Omega Advisors voted a $ 4.9 million billing at the SEC after allegations of insider trading. Omega admitted that it had not committed any wrongdoing.
“I vote on my values, not my paperback,” Cooperman said, noting that he would get richer if President Donald Trump wins re-election and would get poorer if Biden wins. One day after election day, the race is still in the air.
Cooperman also seeks to give away much of its money. In 2020 he signed the Make a promise, a commitment from wealthy philanthropists to donate a large portion of their wealth to charity. The pledge was organized by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
“I’ve made a lot of money, I’m giving it away,” said Cooperman.
“That’s the American dream,” he added. “I want to give others the opportunity to live the American dream.”
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.