The location of his father's oil-exploration business, Circle A Drilling, where he lived, is just down the road from Bob Dole. In later years, Anschutz contributed to Dole's political campaigns. He graduated from Wichita High School East in 1957, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Kansas in 1961.
A member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, he is considered a conservative Christian. He and his wife, whom he met when he was 16, have three children. He is known to be extremely guarded about giving personal information out to the press. It has been reported that he owns an extensive collection of western art. It includes George Catlin's 1832 Bull Dance, George Inness's 1856 Afterglow on the Prairie, and important works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Frederic Remington, Fritz Scholder, and Charles Marion Russell.
When filmmakers were making a movie about Red Adair in 1967, Anschutz struck a deal with Universal Pictures to let them film real fire fighters called in to put out a real oil blaze on his land for a $100,000 fee. The footage was used in the 1968 John Wayne movie Hellfighters.
In 1970 he bought the 250,000-acre Baughman Farms, one of the country's largest farming corporations, in Liberal, Kansas for $10 million. The following year, he acquired 9 million acres along the Utah-Wyoming border. This produced his first fortune in the oil business. In the early 1980s, the Anschutz Ranch, with its 1 billion barrel oil pocket, became the largest oil field discovery in the United States since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in 1968. He sold a half-interest in it to Mobil Oil for $500 million in 1982.
For several years Anschutz was Colorado's sole billionaire. With his acquisition of land in other Western states, he is thought to own more farm and cattle land than any other single private citizen in the United States. He then moved into railroads and telecommunications before venturing into the entertainment industry. In 1999, Fortune magazine compared him to the nineteenth-century tycoon J.P. Morgan, as both men "struck it rich in a fundamentally different way: they operated across an astounding array of industries, mastering and reshaping entire economic landscapes."
Rail and petroleum businesses
In 1984 he entered the railroad business by purchasing the Rio Grande Railroad's holding company, Rio Grande Industries. Four years later, in 1988, the Rio Grande railroad purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad under his direction. With the merger of the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Corporation in September 1996, Anschutz became Vice-Chairman of Union Pacific. Prior to the merger, he was a Director of Southern Pacific from June 1988 to September 1996, and Non-Executive Chairman of Southern Pacific from 1993 to September 1996.
He was also a Director of Forest Oil Corporation, beginning in 1995. In November 1993 he became Director and Chairman of the Board of Qwest, stepping down as a nonexecutive co-chairman in 2002, but remaining on the board. He has also been a Director for Pacific Energy Partners, and served on the boards of the American Petroleum Institute, in Washington, D.C. and the National Petroleum Institute Council, in Washington, D.C.
In May, 2001, the Bush administration upheld Anschutz's right to drill an exploratory oil well at Weatherman Draw, in south-central Montana where Native American tribes wanted to preserve sacred rock drawings. Environmental groups, preservationists, and 10 Indian tribes had appealed the decision without success. Reports at the time noted that Anschutz had donated $300,000 to Republican causes in the previous four years. In April 2002, the Anschutz Exploration Corporation gave up its plans to drill for oil in the area. They donated its leases for oil and gas rights to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has pledged to let the leases expire, and the Bureau of Land Management said it had no plans to permit further leases there, and would consider formal withdrawal of the 4,268 acre (17 km²) site from mineral leasing in its 2004 management plan.
In May 2003, Anschutz agreed to pay $4.4 million for accepting lucrative IPO shares from Salomon Smith Barney in exchange for his firm, Qwest's, investment banking business. The payment was roughly equal to his profit from the practice of IPO "spinning". In February 2006, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reported that Anschutz would not stand for re-election to the boards of Qwest and Union Pacific, and would resign from the board of Regal Entertainment, so that he could focus on his other investments.
Anschutz's investment in the Millennium Dome in London (through his company Anschutz Entertainment Group) has caused him to become embroiled in the controversies surrounding the British Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. A large part of Anschutz's proposed investment in the Dome is conditional on the granting of a 'super casino' license by the British government; the controversy surrounds the extent of Prescott's influence on this critical decision. Anschutz has met Prescott personally on several occasions since 2004, including a two-night stay at Anschutz's ranch in 2005, footing the bill for hospitality and gifts; the emergence of this controversy in June 2006 has resulted in Anschutz cancelling a scheduled further meeting.
In January 2007, the decision on the "Super Casino" surprisingly went to a proposal in Manchester, as opposed to the apparently more likely winning bids from Blackpool and the Anschutz proposal in London. A spokesperson for Anschutz Entertainment Group advised that they would be looking into the reasons behind the decision and that the company were "taking time to examine the findings in full and considering our position".
The decision to have the super casino in Manchester was not a great surprise considering Anschutz invested in the city in 2004, when he spent £50m on the MEN arena and the winner of the casino licence is a close ally of Anshutz, Sol Kerzner.
Summary of business interests
Anschutz owns or has major interests in about 100 companies, including the following:
Anschutz Entertainment Group, which has stakes in three U.S. soccer teams, including the MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy, Chicago Fire, and Houston Dynamo; the NHL's Los Angeles Kings; the AHL's Manchester Monarchs; the ECHL's Reading Royals; the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers; STAPLES Center; Home Depot Center; the Swedish soccer team Hammarby IF; the German hockey teams Hamburg Freezers and Eisbären Berlin; and the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles; In the UK they own the Manchester Evening News Arena, the London Arena, and the Millennium Dome which is being redeveloped as a multi-purpose arena, and re-launched under the name "The O2".
Anschutz Film Group (reorganized Crusader Entertainment now known as Bristol Bay Productions and Walden Media). Involved in the production of the movie Atlas Shrugged, and previously involved in the production of the movie Holes in 2003 and the commercially successful The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005.
Pacific Energy Group
17% stake in Qwest Communications, which became a Baby Bell upon the purchase of US West
Regal Entertainment Group, the largest U.S. theater chain with approximately 6,000 screens. Anschutz owns more than half of the company, which is a collection of former bankrupt chains.
Union Pacific Railroad (Anschutz is the company's largest shareholder, with 6%.)
Clarity Media Group, a newspaper conglomerate which includes:
The San Francisco Examiner (purchased in 2004)
The Washington Examiner, which was spun off from a number of D.C. area suburban dailies.
The Baltimore Examiner, which was launched anew in April 2006. (Anschutz has trademarked the name "Examiner" in more than sixty cities.)
NRC Broadcasting, which owns a string of radio stations in Colorado.
Anschutz brought David Beckham to the United States. Beckham is now employed by Galaxy Media and plays on an Anschutz-owned soccer team.
Beckham's salary is, accoring to the New York Times, reportedly around $5M per year.