Pakistan-born US billionaire says race insults hardened his resolveAFP

Shahid Khan (Credit: tribune.com.pk)

NEW YORK, Oct 26: Pakistan-born billionaire Shahid Khan has told US television newsmagazine “60 Minutes” that racist remarks when he bought the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars last November made him more determined to succeed.

CBS said Thursday that the report, to air on the show’s Sunday telecast, shows Khan that he felt like such remarks as “sand monkey” and “terrorist from Pakistan” were not his problem but showed the troubles of those who made them.

“(I reacted) the way I reacted most of my life, which is it’s not really my problem. It’s their problem,” he said. “It was not Jacksonville’s finest moment.”

Anti-Muslim insults did not spoil Khan’s joy at buying the Jaguars from former owner Wayne Weaver, whom Khan said was embarassed by the racist remarks and concerned they might want Khan to forget the deal.

“I think he was surprised. And he wanted to just make sure that you know, it wasn’t giving me pause,” Khan said, noting he never had a second thought about completing the purchase because of the comments.

“As a matter of fact, if it was possible for me to be more determined, it… gave me more determination.”Khan spent $760 million, according to Forbes magazine, for the Jaguars, which were founded as an expansion team in 1995. Khan had failed in a 2010 bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams, a central US NFL team much nearer his business.

Khan said Pakistan lacks the same opportunities he found in the United States, visiting where he grew up in Lahore with a CBS film crew.

“See how hard things are? Power’s going out, it’s 108 degrees. It’s tough,”Khan said. “I think the biggest impediment here is that hope, getting to the next stage, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, there are forces that kind of prevent you from being the best you can be.”

Khan came to the United States in 1967 at age 16 to attend college and went from working in a small garage to making a fortune in auto parts, his unqiue one-piece bumper design becoming a hit in vehicle manufacturing circles.

Two-thirds of all cars and trucks sold in America now have at least one part manufactured by Khan’s firm, Flex-N-Gate, and he ranks among the 400 richest Americans as categoried by Forbes.

Khan, who was born in Pakistan in 1950, graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Illinois in 1971, a year after he started working at Flex-N-Gate, which he bought in 1980. It now has $3 billion in annual sales.

“This gentleman is absolutely the American story,” Weaver said at the time of the sale. “He came to this country from Pakistan… he has factories worldwide and is one of the major producers of parts for all of the major automobile companies.

“I absolutely admire entrepreneurs and he absolutely sets the bar.”

 

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