SEATTLE, WA – The story of the time billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’ gave a strange and cheap gift might say a lot about what kind of president he would be.
Schultz in a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday night basically announced he’s running for president as an “independent centrist.” That promoted comedy writer Guy Endore-Kaiser to go on Twitter and tell a story about the time he got a $5 gift card from Schutlz.
Endore-Kaiser, a writer for Adult Swim and creator of the comic “Brevity,” was working on a marketing campaign for a movie years ago, and one aspect was that the movie would be advertised in every Starbucks store. Endore-Kaiser described the partnership as a “million-dollar deal.”
Schultz flew down to Hollywood and met with Endore-Kaiser personally. After the deal was done, Schutlz’ assistant gave him a gift basket.
“I was stoked, this was the first gift I’d ever gotten from a billionaire,” he wrote on Twitter.
He took the basket back to his office to open in private because he “didn’t want to make any of my colleagues jealous.” Inside he found an assortment of loose tea bags, and a very fancy-looking Starbucks gift card. It was so fancy, Endore-Kaiser assumed it might be good for unlimited free Starbucks, or at least $100 worth.
“A Starbucks gift card, unlike any I had ever seen. Covered in shiny foil, this thing caught the light from every angle. It was beautiful,” he described.
This might be a good time to inject some background: Howard Schultz is a billionaire and lives like one, but he might be one of those billionaires more focused on the bottom line than anything else.
Schultz lives in a $30 million mansion along the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle. The home is 24,160 square-feet and has a boat lift. Schultz owned the Seattle SuperSonics until he sold the team in 2006 for $350 million to some Oklahoma City guys (an open wound — still — for Seattle sports fans).
But Schultz doesn’t come from money. He grew up in public housing in the rough Canarsie neighborhood in Brooklyn. No matter what you think of billionaires, Schultz did work his way to riches.
He’s given millions to charity, and set up his own nonprofit, the Schultz Family Foundation. But as a presidential candidate, he’s opposed to social programs like free college and universal health care because he’s worried about the national debt. He’s been a solid Democratic donor, but in 2018 he pledged to help repeal Seattle’s head tax. That tax would’ve cost companies like Starbucks millions, but the money would’ve gone to build affordable housing to help Seattle’s homelessness crisis.
Knowing all that, the frugal outcome of Endore-Kaiser’s story might not come as a surprise.
When Endore-Kaiser took the card to his local Starbucks, he expected fanfare.
“I ordered a triple venti soy latte. I slid the magnificent card to the barista and waited for his reaction. I’ll never forget his words: ‘You still owe fifteen cents.'”
As a thank-you for helping with a million-dollar deal, the billionaire Howard Schultz gave Endore-Kaiser a $5 gift card. A very nice $5 gift card. (By the way, this isn’t the only Schultz-gift card story floating out there.)
“I will not be voting for Howard Schultz for President, and I invite all of you to join me,” he concluded his story on Twitter.
Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski added another dimension to Endore-Kaiser’s anecdote in a statement released Monday. Podlodowski has been vocally opposed to a Schultz presidential bid (as an independent), which she calls selfish.
“Howard Schultz running as an independent isn’t about bringing anyone together. It’s about one person: Howard Schultz.”
Caption: Starbucks gift cards are displayed at the register at a Starbucks in Seattle, Wednesday Nov. 22, 2006.
AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey