The $5 million coin toss

Who bets $5 million on a coin toss? Definitely not me. But it turns out that the CEOs of Continental and Northwest did some years ago.


Gordon Bethune, the Continental CEO at the time recently shared the story on his Facebook page and then it made its way out to a few other places.

At about 4 pm, I asked the NWA CEO to step outside with me…I said, let’s flip a quarter for it. Although completely flabbergasted, he called heads…it was tails and we bought our independence for 430 million dollars.

In the end each Continental employee got a $100 bonus off of that coin flip, plus the company regained its independence. Great little story, I say.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Bethune was probably the best CEO in the airline industry! The only other big chance taker was Fred Smith. Too bad, so much of what Bethune did at CO, is disappearing.

  2. A coin toss is a great way of breaking stalemates caused by pride or fear! When the value proposition is right, but there is still no decision, why not?

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