Charlie Ergen

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Charlie Ergen
Charles William Ergen

(1953-03-01) March 1, 1953 (age 66)
OccupationChairman of Dish Network and EchoStar Corporation 1998-2019
Known forCo-founder of Satellite provider Dish Network
Net worthUS$10.5 billion (November 2019)[1]
Spouse(s)Candy Ergen

Charles William Ergen (born March 1, 1953) is an American billionaire businessman. He is co-founder and chairman of Dish Network[2] and EchoStar. He stepped down as CEO of Dish in May 2011 in favor of Joseph Clayton. Ergen resumed as CEO upon Clayton's March 31, 2015 retirement and was CEO until December 2017 when he promoted president and COO Erik Carlson to CEO.[3] Ergen owns 48 percent of Dish[4]:6 and 46 percent of Echostar shares.[5]:8 He holds 78 percent of Dish's[4]:6 and 72 percent of EchoStar's[5]:8 total voting power.


In 1980 Ergen, his future wife Candy, and Jim DeFranco started a new business called EchoSphere Corporation, investing $60,000[6] to purchase two C-Band antennas, targeting rural Colorado. They drove around the Denver metro area on a small budget, selling satellite dishes from the back of their truck.[7]

In 1990 Ergen elevated EchoStar's profile by raising $335 million in junk bonds and purchasing orbital slots for satellites. Two years later, EchoStar got a DBS license from the Federal Communications Commission, giving the company its own geostationary orbital slot. In 1993, EchoStar Communications was incorporated. Under Ergen, EchoStar's net income doubled to $20.4 million, in 1993.[7]


Under Ergen, Dish was the first satellite tv provider to offer two-way high-speed internet access and the first to introduce a Digital video recorder in a set-top box. He was also instrumental in making satellite receivers available for under $200. In 2012, the Big Four Broadcasters, NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox filed a suit against Dish after it launched AutoHop, a technology that records broadcasting programming and plays it back without commercials. Dish filed a suit seeking a declaratory judgment asserting the legality of the judgment. Preliminary injunction by Fox to block the service was denied. Ergen has stated that Dish's present focus is on acquiring a significant share of the spectrum for cellular wireless services. Dish is also looking for a partner to build a wireless network, with Google and AT&T speculated to be potential partners.[8][9][10]

Under Ergen, EchoStar and Dish Network acquired multiple companies, after an $8 million deal for 22 channel assignments of DBSC.[11][12]


Various lawsuits in which Ergen has been involved include:

  • In 2013 and 2014, Harbinger Capital Partners, a hedge fund managed by Philip Falcone, sued Dish Network and Charles Ergen personally in federal court in New York City, alleging racketeering and claiming that Dish Network had illegally tried to take away the hedge fund's control over LightSquared Inc. during its bankruptcy. In 2015, the federal court dismissed the suit.[13]
  • The Iron Workers Mid-South Pension Fund filed suit against Ergen in federal court in Colorado in September 2013. Ergen bought large amounts of LightSquared's debt at deep discounts while it was in bankruptcy. Ergen then made a personal bid of $2 billion to acquire LightSquared's assets. This increased the price that Dish had to bid in order to acquire LightSquared's rights to wireless spectrum. Indeed, Ergen ordered Dish to bid $2.2 billion on these assets. The suit claims this was a breach of Ergen's fiduciary duties to Dish shareholders.[14] Dish and Ergen prevailed in the litigation.
  • In 2005, a discrimination lawsuit was filed against EchoStar in federal court in Denver by an employee who said that EchoStar had engaged in "hostile conduct" against her after she had a baby in 2001.[15] The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in August 2005.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Ergen was born into an Episcopalian family[17] in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on March 1, 1953,[18] the fourth of five children born to Viola (née Siebenthal) and William Krasny Ergen.[19][20] His mother was one of the first female accountants in the state of Minnesota.[17] His father was an Austrian immigrant who was working in Sweden as a nuclear physicist, and left Europe prior to World War II.[19] His father coined the phrase "China Syndrome".[19]:83 His parents married in Minnesota in 1944 and then moved to Camden, New Jersey, before settling in Oak Ridge where his father accepted a position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.[17] Ergen received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.[21] and an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University.[22] He was a professional blackjack and poker player.[21][23]

Ergen is well known for his frugality. His office is furnished with second-hand couches and he does not fly first class.[24] Ergen used to sign all the checks his company issued but currently signs only checks for $100,000 or more.[25] Ergen's supporters call his negotiating style patient and prudent.[26]

He is married to Cantey ("Candy") McAdam. They have five children.[27] They live in The Village at Castle Pines, Colorado.[18] Ergen is an avid mountain climber who has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina and Mount Everest base camp in Nepal. He is a member of the Colorado Mountain Club and has climbed all of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks. Besides mountain climbing, his interests include poker and pickup basketball.[18][28]


In June 1991, Ergen was named 'Master Entrepreneur of the Year' for the Rocky Mountain region by INC Magazine. Two years prior, he had been honoured with a Home Satellite TV Association Star Award. Ergen played a key role in fighting for American consumers' rights to watch local television channels via satellite, which became a reality after the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act was passed in 1999. He has been an advocate of video competition issues and testified before the Congress, in this regard, on numerous occasions. He was recognized with a Rocky Mountain News' Business Person of the Year Award in 1996, and honoured a second time in 2001.[29][30]

Ergen also won the Frost & Sullivan 2001 CEO of the Year of the Satellite Industry. In 2000 he was named 'Space Industry Business Man of the Year.' Ergen was named one of the 'World's Best CEOs' by Barron's magazine in 2007. He was also mentioned in Forbes Magazine 'Top Ten CEOs' list. Ergen co-founded the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association.[29][30] He was in the 2012 class of inductees to the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.[31]


  1. ^ "The World's Billionaires 2018". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Charlie Ergen - co-founder and Chairman of Dish Network". Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Dish co-founder Ergen steps down from CEO role to focus on wireless". Reuters. December 5, 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Schedule 14A". SEC. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Schedule 14A". SEC. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  6. ^ Roberts, Michael (21 March 2017). "Meet Colorado's Ten Billionaires". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Chairman and chief executive officer, EchoStar Communications Corporation". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen, the TV Disrupter". Advertising Age. 4 December 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "Federal Court Won't Block Dish's 'AutoHop'". MultiChannel. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Dish's AutoHop scores another legal win". Los Angeles Times. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "EchoStar to Acquire Hughes for About $1.32 Billion". Bloomberg. 14 February 2011. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "DISH Network's Intriguing 2011 Acquisitions". 4 December 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Shareholders Sue Dish, Charlie Ergen Over $2.2 Billion Spectrum Bid". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Female EchoStar Executives Charge Ergen with 'Abusive Behavior'". Denver Post. United States. 6 April 2005.
  16. ^ "EchoStar worker suit alleges sex misconduct". 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  17. ^ a b c "Oral History of Viola Ergen, Interviewed by Keith McDaniel". Center for Oak Ridge Oral History. 18 July 2011. "We joined the Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in '48 when we came here."
  18. ^ a b c "BusinessWeek resume". Businessweek.
  19. ^ a b c Keating, Stephen (1999). Cutthroat: High Stakes & Killer Moves on the Electronic Frontier. Big Earth Publishing. ISBN 9781555662486.
  20. ^ Weatherford Mortuary: "Viola Siebenthal Ergen" Archived 2015-09-25 at the Wayback Machine May 21, 2013
  21. ^ a b "Dish Network, the Meanest Company in America".
  22. ^ "Dish Network Board of Directors". Dishnetwork.
  23. ^ Dann Shea, "Charles Ergen: Meet America's Richest Media Mogul You've Never Heard Of", on The Huffington Post 09-18-08 [1]
  24. ^ Iwatani, Yukari (30 October 2001). "Former gambler Ergen wins a big round: A career defying the odds". National Post. Canada.
  25. ^ "Dish Network, the Meanest Company in America". 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  26. ^ Ramachandran, Shalini (4 June 2015). "Dish's Finicky CEO Is Wild Card in T-Mobile Talks". Retrieved 19 September 2018 – via
  27. ^ "Charles Ergen". Forbes.
  28. ^ "Charlie Ergen, WFU commencement". 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-01-30.
  29. ^ a b "Entrepreneurs Unplugged: Charlie Ergen, Chairman, DISH Network".
  30. ^ a b "Silicon Flatirons: Charlie Ergen, Chairman, DISH Network". 17 April 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  31. ^ Smith, Steve (17 October 2012). "CEA Inducts CE Hall Of Fame Class of 2012". Twice Magazine. Retrieved 15 May 2018.