It costs over $4.5 million to lunch with Warren Buffett, a man of simple tastes

Warren Buffett doesn’t usually favor fancy lunches.
Warren Buffett doesn’t usually favor fancy lunches.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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If anyone can afford to be a connoisseur of fine food it is the Oracle of Omaha, investor Warren Buffett.

The Berkshire Hathaway founder is among the world’s richest people, yet he doesn’t exactly live or eat like a king. Buffett is famous for making it to age 88 on a diet of Coca Cola, Utz potato sticks (the two make a great breakfast, he says), Dairy Queen Sundaes, and fast food from McDonald’s.

So what would Buffett have to say about someone on May 31 bidding on eBay to pay more than $4.5 million to have lunch with him? He probably wouldn’t consider this the wisest use of money if the meal was the point, based on his own habits. But he would surely approve of the fact that the money is going to charity.

This is the 20th year that Buffett has auctioned off such a “power lunch.” As Quartz’s Michael Coren recently reported, the Oracle of Omaha over the years has generated about $30 million for the Glide Foundation—a San Francisco non-profit that helps the poor, homeless, and most vulnerable—via these meals. The winning bidder and up to seven friends will get to lunch with Buffett in New York at the high-end steakhouse Smith & Wollensky (although Buffett would perhaps prefer grabbing Big Macs at his favorite fast-food joint).

A meal with Buffett didn’t always cost this much. In 2001, it was practically a steal, at under $20,000. But in 2008, the price, which had been steadily rising, jumped dramatically to over $2 million once the auction was held online on eBay and opened to anyone who could afford it, rather than being held for one night at GLIDE’s live charity event in San Francisco. As the oracle ages and his time on Earth becomes more precious, the price of dining with him keeps rising.

Bidding goes on anonymously for a week through the online auction. This year’s began at $25,000 on May 24 and quickly rose. By the time it closed late on May 31, the winner had committed $4,567,888. It was a record-breaking bid even for this expensive lunch, which previously reached a record of $3.45 million in 2014 and 2016.

GLIDE president and CEO Karen Hanrahan told the San Francisco Business Times that this one bid for a single meal will help feed tens of thousands of people in need.