Chris Hughes went from living in a small town in North Carolina to attending Harvard on a scholarship. During his freshman year, Hughes met Mark Zuckerberg.
His life changed forever.
It does not go unnoticed by Hughes, how crazy that is.
"You know, the only thing we can call it is a lucky break," Hughes says of his wealth — $430 million as of December 2016, according to Forbes — on a recent episode of Kara Swisher's Recode Decode podcast.
"I grew up in a little town, Hickory, North Carolina. It's at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains … I grew up there, my mom was a public school teacher, dad was a traveling paper salesman, but then I got a scholarship to go to a fancy boarding school, Phillips Andover, up in Massachusetts," Hughes says.
"It was there where I lost the accent and then later got a scholarship to go to Harvard and met Mark Zuckerberg, freshman year. We ended up roommates sophomore year, started Facebook in February of 2004, the rocket ship took off and my life changed pretty dramatically," he explains.
Friends – if you're intrigued, consider reading #FairShot and thinking through the idea. If you're skeptical, please read the book and throw your critiques my way. Let's make the American Dream a possibility for everyone.
Though Zuckerberg famously dropped out of Harvard to pursue Facebook, Hughes graduated. In 2007, Hughes left Facebook to work for then-Senator Barack Obama's first presidential campaign.
More than a decade later, Hughes has become an advocate for universal basic income, a cash payment distributed to everyone irrespective of employment status. He wrote a book promoting the idea, "Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn," which was published in February 2018.
"I ended up wanting to write the book in order to partially tell my story and be clear that the financial reward that I got from three years' worth of work at Facebook was entirely disproportionate to the time and effort put in," says Hayes.
"I might be extreme but I don't think my case is actually that unusual. A small group of people are getting very, very wealthy while everybody else is struggling to make ends meets," Hughes continues.
Zuckerberg also admitted the inequity of his own wealth in his Harvard commencement speech delivered in May.
"Let's face it. There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can't afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business," Zuckerberg said in his commencement address.