Bill Sniffin: The Richest Man In The World Lives Here In The Cowboy State

in Column/Bill Sniffin

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

We have all seen this Wyoming guy.

He doesn’t look rich.

But if you examine his life and measure his level of happiness, there is a compelling argument he could very well be the richest man in the world.

This is a man who loves the outdoors. He loves to hunt and fish. He loves to explore. He just happens to have a few motorized off-road vehicles around (his wife calls them “toys”), which are not necessarily new, but he keeps them in good repair. He loves tinkering on them.

This rich man lives in Casper or Sheridan or Worland or Cheyenne or Laramie or Rock Springs or Evanston or Riverton or any other Wyoming city or town. He gets up early each morning to greet the day with a big smile because he is in total control of his universe.

The day starts off with coffee with his buddies. They meet every morning, rain or shine, and spend an hour telling tall tales to each other and occasional off-color jokes.

Let’s call this guy Joe. With all due respect to the University of Wyoming, we might even call him Cowboy Joe because he is a big fan of UW and is rarely seen without brown or gold apparel that reads WYOMING or COWBOYS.

Joe does odd jobs and is in control of his own schedule. His wife has a good steady job with good benefits and good retirement. They are frugal and have saved up a little money. They enjoy Wyoming’s outdoor experiences together.

It is well-known that Joe married “up,” which means he found himself an ideal life partner. People say his wife should not put up with all Joe’s hobbies, but she accepts them with a smile, because she likes them, too. They are active in their church and people can count on them to help during times of need. They are there for others at such times.

These folks like Joe are among the richest people in the world’s history.

Someone like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or some Arab sheik may think his life is better than Joe’s, but do not try to convince Joe of this.  He would not trade his place on the planet with any of them.

He and his wife encouraged their kids to study hard and qualify for scholarships because extra money was hard to find. The kids qualified and they also worked during their years at UW. They graduated almost debt-free. 

Joe and his wife taught their kids to be thrifty and to appreciate the finer things in life, such as the joys available in Wyoming’s great outdoors.

Joe and his wife are the best grandparents in the world. They take the grandchildren fishing, hunting, and camping. They have lots of time to spend with them and are never in a hurry. They listen to the grandkids’ problems because often the kids’ parents are too busy trying to make a living to do so.

At some point, one of Joe’s kids will lecture the old man about how if he had worked an extra job or invested in the stock market, he probably would have ended up rich. And when he turned 70, he would have time to do all the fishing and hunting he might want to do. 

Joe will look at him and shrug. You can almost tell that he is thinking “It’s time to go fishing.”

The Cowboy Joe described here is characteristic of a lot of people I know in Wyoming. I wish that I could have been more like him. In business, my wife Nancy and I have tried to get it all done but I missed out on a lot because of pressures associated with running and growing several businesses. I would have liked to have spent more time hunting, fishing, and camping.

Perhaps the closest I ever came to the perfect life was when I aspired to be a newspaper publisher at a young age. I made it at age 24 here in Lander, which was sort of incredible.

A friend back in those days invited Nancy and me to dinner where a third man showed up and gave us a pitch about how we could make all this extra money with a multi-level marketing sales scheme. I think it was Amway.

“Just think, Bill,” the man exclaimed. “If you make all this extra money, you can be whatever you ever wanted to be!”

My answer to him was: “Sorry, but I am what I always wanted to be.”

Now that is what Joe would have answered had he been asked that question.

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