10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charles Ergen


Meet Charles Ergen, the dynamic co-founder and former CEO of Dish Network Corporation, and EchoStar Communications Corporation. Born on March 1, 1953, this Tennessee-origin entrepreneur has always kept a low profile, with very little known to the public about his personal life. Despite such a clandestine lifestyle, his accomplishments in the satellite communication market have not gone unnoticed. Today, we have curated this compelling roundup of the top ten facts about this business tycoon that might just surprise you.

1. Charles Ergen is a Self-Made Billionaire

A name included in Forbes Magazine’s list of billionaires, Ergen holds the title of the wealthiest man in Colorado with an estimated net worth of $10.6 billion in 2020. With no silver spoon, this man has made his way to the top, starting with a single investment in the satellite dish business sold door-to-door along with his wife, Cantey Ergen, and partner, Jim DeFranco in 1980.

By the end of the decade, the startup business transformed into a satellite broadcasting company, DISH Network, Be it meteorology, broadcasting or telecommunications, Ergen’s remarkable journey to stardom is one of determination and innovation.

2. Former Professional Poker Player

Before the rein of DISH Network, Ergen lived quite the adventurous life as a professional blackjack and poker player. In fact, he credits these experiences at the poker table for his business success later. It taught him strategic maneuvers, when to take risks, and above all – how to read people, a skill essential in the corporate negotiations.

After building his company, Charles would often host poker nights at his office in Denver and use the game as a bonding method to learn more about potential business associates, reflecting on the profound significance of his poker days in his entrepreneurial journey.

3. A Legacy of Diversity

Ergen’s family background reflects a melting pot of traditions and heritages. His father, William Krasny Ergen, was an Austrian immigrant of Jewish descent, who worked as a nuclear physicist. His mother, Viola Siebenthal, was of Swedish descent and was a school teacher by profession.

These diverse backgrounds contributed to Ergen’s broad mindset and acceptance of multiple perspectives, an essential trait for a global business icon and leader of diverse teams. It’s a testament to how America, the melting pot of cultures, continues to produce some of the world’s most influential business leaders.

4. He is a Philanthropist

As is the case with many successful entrepreneurs, Charles Ergen also believes in giving back to society. He has made significant contributions to various charitable causes. In 2008, he and his wife, Cantey, established The Ergen Family Foundation, a private philanthropic organization. The foundation supports numerous charitable causes, focusing primarily on health, education, and arts and culture.

Ergen also donated $2 million in 2015 to help flood victims in South Carolina, further cementing his legacy as a benefactor.

5. Broadband Services on the Moon!

One of Ergen’s business entities, EchoStar, presented a proposal in 2018 to send broadband services to the moon. The forward-thinking CEO believes that as humans journey toward a future of space exploration and possible lunar settlements, there will be a need for high-speed internet connectivity.

This bold initiative is just another example of Ergen’s foresight and innovative thinking. From humble selling satellite dishes house to house, he now dreams of carrying internet services to the moon!

6. A Stint at Frito-Lay

Before breaking into the satellite communication market, Ergen worked for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay in a financial management role. He credits Frito-Lay’s nurturing and strict corporate culture for honing his business acumen and instilling in him a sense of rigor and process.

This phase of employment at a corporate giant undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping Ergen’s business ideology, which he later implemented in his ventures.

7. Holds a Masters in Business Administration

Charles Ergen is not just an opportunistic entrepreneur, but an academically accomplished individual as well. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and Wake Forest University, respectively.

His academic achievements set the very foundation for his triumphant business career. His successful navigation of the business world can be tied closely to the skills and strategies cultivated during his rigorous academic journey.

8. The Low Key Billionaire

Despite being a billionaire, Ergen is known for keeping a low profile. His ethos of simplicity extends to his office, where he maintains an open workspace and often shares lunch with his employees.

Ergen’s unpretentious demeanor and humbleness, despite his massive wealth and influence, etch an endearing picture of a man who reminds us that at our cores, we are all human, despite our levels of success.

9. A Futuristic Vision

One quality that highlights Charles Ergen’s leadership and business acuity is his futuristic orientation. He believes connectivity will become even more integral in the future, and as such, has invested heavily in building a wireless network with an ambitious IoT project.

His vision to construct a connectivity infrastructure for the future demonstrates his forward-thinking approach, an essential trait for any technology entrepreneur.

10. A Family Man

Last but not least, Charles Ergen is a dedicated family man. He and his wife, Cantey, have five children. His eldest daughter, Chase Ergen, is the Dish Networks legal representative, signaling that the Ergen legacy continues to thrive in the ever-evolving world of satellite communications.

Despite maintaining a low profile, the Ergen family undoubtedly cherishes their father’s ceaseless dedication to both his family and his business.

From humble beginnings to a formidable business empire in the world of telecommunication, Charles Ergen’s incredible journey has a mixture of strategic gambles, determination, diverse influences, forward-thinking, and a simple lifestyle. The secrets to his success lie in the realms of his history and experiences.

Useful Links

For those keen on learning more about this visionary businessman, we encourage you to explore the following resources:

Biography of Charles Ergen
Charles Ergen on Forbes
Bloomberg Profile of Charles Ergen