Friday, September 13, 2013

You know those "The Most Interesting Man In the World" commercials by Dos Equis, right? The beer maker launched the campaign several years ago, and the commercials continue to be clever and funny. Like how the most interesting man: "In a past life, he was himself;" and "If opportunity knocks and he's not home, opportunity waits." I've never encountered anyone quite like that, but throughout my career as a journalist, I've met a lot of very interesting people. And recent experiences lead me to say that Felix Sabates Is the Most Interesting Man In Charlotte.

Many of you might know Felix primarily for two things: his Mercedes-Benz dealership in south Charlotte and his part ownership in NASCAR team Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. I interviewed him about his views on the current state of NASCAR, for an article that appears in the September/October 2013 issue of Where Charlotte.

But if you ever have the opportunity to interview Felix Sabates, it's all the stuff you likely won't include in your article that makes him so interesting. He told me fascinating stories about his relationships with other NASCAR team owners and executives over the years, his relationship with Michael Jordan, the condo he owns in Miami across the street from where the Heat play, his run-ins with Dennis Rodman, and more. He tells these stories so randomly, yet matter-of-factly, you could listen to him talk for hours. He doesn't mince words, yet he's very likeable. I bet he's the life of parties, and I'd sure love to hang out with him. Someone needs to write a book on this guy.

And aside from all the anecdotes you'll get from the stories he shares, his own story is fascinating. He was born into wealth in Cuba because his family owned many businesses there, but they lost it all when he was a teenager due to Fidel Castro's dictatorship. Felix came to the U.S. at age 16, and a few years later settled into Charlotte, where he's lived since 1963. He went from working as a parking lot attendant and washing cars during those early years, to becoming a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. In addition to his car businesses and sports teams affiliations, he also owns a company that builds yachts.

I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis.


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