Billy Carter

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Billy Carter
Billy Carter (Plains, Georgia) (cropped).jpg
William Alton Carter

(1937-03-29)March 29, 1937
DiedSeptember 25, 1988(1988-09-25) (aged 51)
Plains, Georgia, U.S.
Alma materEmory University
Occupation(s)Farmer, businessman, politician
Sybil Spires
(m. 1955)

William Alton Carter (March 29, 1937 – September 25, 1988)[1] was an American farmer, businessman, brewer, and politician. The younger brother of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, he promoted Billy Beer and Peanut Lolita; and he was a candidate for mayor of Plains, Georgia.

1970s and later[edit]

In 1972, Billy Carter purchased a gas and service station in Plains. He owned and operated it for most of the decade.[2]

Carter ran for mayor of Plains in 1976, but lost the election, 97 to 71 votes.[3]

In the 1970s Billy Carter was the official spokesperson for Peanut Lolita liqueur while his brother, Jimmy Carter held presidential office.[4]

In 1977, he endorsed Billy Beer, introduced by the Falls City Brewing Company, who wished to capitalize upon his colorful image as a beer-drinking Southern good ol' boy that developed in the press when his brother ran for president. Billy Carter's name was occasionally used as a gag answer for a Washington, D.C., trouble-maker on 1970s episodes of Match Game. He was known for his outlandish public behavior; he once urinated on an airport runway in full view of the press and dignitaries.[5] He later became sober and reportedly extended support to other addicts in their own recovery.[6]

Relationship with Libya[edit]

In late 1978 and early 1979, Billy Carter visited Libya three times with a contingent from Georgia. He eventually registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan.[7] However, Edwin P. Wilson claimed he had seen a telegram showing that Libya paid Billy Carter $2 million.[8] This led to a Senate hearing on alleged influence peddling which the press named Billygate.[9] A Senate sub-committee was called To Investigate Activities of Individuals Representing Interests of Foreign Governments (Billy Carter—Libya Investigation).

"I am deeply concerned that Billy has received funds from Libya and that he may be under obligation to Libya. These facts will govern my relationship with Billy as long as I am president. Billy has had no influence on U.S. policy or actions concerning Libya in the past, and he will have no influence in the future."

— Jimmy Carter, August 4, 1980[10]


Carter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall of 1987 and received unsuccessful treatments for the disease. He died in Plains the following year at age 51, five years after the death of his sister Ruth Carter Stapleton, who also died of pancreatic cancer, at age 54.[11] Their father, James Earl Carter Sr., also died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 58.

In 1999, Carter's son William "Buddy" Carter IV published a biography of his father: Billy Carter: A Journey Through the Shadows (ISBN 1-56352-553-4).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Billy Carter". Archived from the original on January 8, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Billy Carter's Station
  3. ^ Ayres, Drummond (December 7, 1976). "Billy Carter Loses". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  4. ^ Watson, Robert P. (2012). Life in the White House: A Social History of the First Family and the President's House. Albany, New York: SUNY Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0791485071. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "Billy Carter Curbs Tongue", Spokane Daily Chronicle, January 15, 1979
  6. ^ "O.C. Writer Helps Tell Billy Carter Odyssey". Los Angeles Times. January 27, 1990. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  7. ^ "Billy Carter Role in Iran Hostage Crisis Disclosed". The Los Angeles Times. July 23, 1980. p. 1. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  8. ^ Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to Terror: Edwin P. Wilson and the Legacy of America's Private Intelligence Network (Carroll and Graf, 2005), p. 162.
  9. ^ Sabato, Larry (July 21, 1998). "Billygate – 1980". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  10. ^ Trento, Prelude to Terror, p. 164. Trento asserts that Libya's involvement with Billy Carter was instigated by Israeli intelligence in order "to compromise the president", who had ended Israel's "special status inside the CIA". Trento, 160, 157.
  11. ^ Hershey Jr., Robert D. (September 26, 1988). "Billy Carter Dies of Cancer at 51. Troubled Brother of a President". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2008. Billy Carter, the irrepressible gas station proprietor and farmer who vaulted to national celebrity in his brother Jimmy's successful campaign for President in 1976, died of cancer of the pancreas yesterday at his home in Plains, Georgia. He was 51 years old.

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