Imagine you could time-travel back to 1919 and do one thing to ensure an affluent future. What would it be? While your mind might race to elaborate schemes, one surprisingly simple act would’ve made you a future millionaire — buying a share of Coca-Cola’s stock. That meager $40 investment would be 9,200 shares today valued at more than $10 million!
Most people in early 20th century America missed out on making this investment by a long shot. But one banker in Quincy, Florida, used his passion for the brown soda to transform himself and countless neighbors into Coca-Cola millionaires. In the process, he also amassed enough funds to bequeath $1,000,000 apiece to each of his 18 children.
Keep reading to learn about the man behind the millions and how he helped a town stay afloat and even prosper during the Great Depression.
The Banker Who Loved Coca-Cola
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, a clever banker named Mark Welch “Mr Pat” Munroe had an epiphany. He noticed that people saved up and used their last coins to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola. It didn’t make sense, especially when even the barest necessities proved far from guaranteed. But he realized he’d stumbled upon a trend he could use to generate revenues.
Munroe trusted his gut instinct and scraped together funds to purchase a handful of shares. But he didn’t stop with personal gain. Instead, he urged fellow residents of Quincy to do the same. According to his son-in-law, one-time State Representative Bob Woodward, Jr., Munroe did more than tell people about Coke stocks.
The clever banker put his money where his mouth was. In one case, Woodward’s father came in for a $2,000 farm loan, and Munroe upped his funds to $4,000 on one condition … that he invest in Coca-Cola shares. Woodward took Munroe up on the suggestion, and the money from his investment helped the family survive and thrive during the Depression of the 1930s.
Coca-Cola Kept Quincy Afloat
Although Munroe knew he was on to something, he could have never visualized how successful his investment advice would ultimately prove. Not only did investing in Coca-Cola shares help Quincy survive the worst of the 1930s, but it has also helped the city get out of every recession since. The same goes for natural disasters like crop failures.
During the time of the Great depression 1929-39, banker Mark Welch convinced struggling families in Quincy, Florida to buy Coco-Cola shares which traded at $19 & coke was @ 5c. Later, the town became the single richest in USA w/67 millionaires. #Stockmarket #Investing $KO pic.twitter.com/d4iobVi9Z4
— Naresh Nambisan | നരേഷ് 🧘♂️ (@nareshbahrain) August 7, 2022
Ultimately, investing in soda pop transformed a humble Florida Panhandle town into the single richest city in America! It resulted in the creation of 67 millionaires who passed on their wealth to multiple generations. And you can still see hints of great affluence in Quincy today. A quaint town of less than 7,000, many of its Coca-Cola millionaires still have a family presence in the area. What’s more, you can visit Pat Munroe’s old bank, where approximately 65 percent of trust assets remain invested in — you guessed it — Coca-Cola stock.
The Fixation on Coca-Cola Paid Big Dividends
Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this story remains Munroe’s steadfast fixation on Coca-Cola stock. Instead of sticking to something that was tried and true, he chose to ignore conventional wisdom and so did the residents that took his advice. Although their actions flew in the face of stock market wisdom of the day, they succeeded by focusing on the only metric that mattered: profit.
This tale also suggests it only takes one great idea to get rich, and once you’ve reached that summit, you never have to do it again. Of course, with Pat Munroe at the helm of Quincy’s bank, it gave residents a distinct advantage when it came to being Coca-Cola Millionaires. Ready to learn more about weird moments in the history of soda?
Explore Coca-Cola’s association with modern images of Santa Claus and Pepsi’s ownership of a Soviet naval fleet.
By Engrid Barnett, contributor for Ripleys.com
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