At the ABC-Disney All-Star Party promoting the Fall TV lineup, Mark Cuban strolled in dressed very casually in a tee-shirt and jeans. He’s comfortable with who he is—a billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who also brags, “I’m a lean, mean, shark machine, baby.”
The Shark Tank personality joined his well-dress entrepreneurial cohorts Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavac, Daymond John, and “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary, plus the reality competition series’ producer Mark Burnett, as they celebrated the start of the fifth season. Cuban was happy to relay that the network is “showing us a lot of support.”
Cuban actually “jumped the Shark Tank” this Summer when he appeared on the Discovery Channel’s Shark After Dark late night talk show as part of that network’s popular Shark Week slate. He talked about good deals and bad, but with more than 20 Shark Tank investments he’s happy to report that there’s only been one business that tanked.
About ten years ago I remember introducing myself to him when he was doing another feel-good business competition show The Benefactor. He was a great guy to talk to, then and now. He’s the kind of guy that jumps at the chance to tell people how lucky he is. “My family, my job, my team, so many things. Everything reminds me how lucky I am,” he told me. That’s why he was also anxious to tape a new season of Shark Tank.
Cuban explained, “The reason I do the show really is because it gives me a chance to help people have their dreams come true. All the time, I hear people say that you can’t start a business in America anymore, and you can’t do this or that for various reasons. But that’s not true. And we’re here to show people that it can be done. If these people who come on Shark Tank can do it, than you can do it. It sends that message. The show inspires and encourages entrepreneurs. That’s why I love doing it.”
Cuban himself was an inspiring entrepreneur when he was just 12 years old. He loves to tell the story about how he went door to door selling garbage bags in his suburban Pittsburgh neighborhood so he could buy a new pair of sneakers. He did a number of jobs to earn college money, including being a disco dance teacher. Unfortunately that didn’t help him when he was on Dancing With the Stars a few years ago. But he loved the experience.
From his humble beginnings he became a billionaire who founded HDNet. He also co-founded the Broadcast.com internet company which was sold to Yahoo, and MicroSolutions which was sold to CompuServe. He’s respected in Hollywood for the impressive movies that have come from his Magnolia Pictures. And he has the Landmark Theatre chain.
Although busy overseeing all of his enterprises, he couldn’t resist buying the Dallas Mavericks in 2000. Cuban relishes his “notorious” reputation as the Mavs owner. He sits with the fans wearing a team jersey at the games and is never shy about showing his passion for his team, or his disagreement with the referees, as his many NBA fines will corroborate. But he’s also a dedicated philanthropist who will match the fines and make donations to worthy charities.
Under his leadership with the Mavericks, Cuban has made the game more entertaining and he can bask in the glory of his 2011 championship team. What are his plans for the upcoming NBA season? “During the season they get my full support,” he reported. But until then, he’ll be sitting courtside with the rest of the “sharks” for Shark Tank, Season 5 on ABC. #