Money

Why Warren Buffett hosts a newspaper-throwing contest at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting

Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., prepares to throw a newspaper as he tours the exhibition floor prior to the start of the Berkshire shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
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Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., prepares to throw a newspaper as he tours the exhibition floor prior to the start of the Berkshire shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Saturday, May 4, 2013.

Since 2012, attendees of Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders meeting have taken part in a fun tradition: a newspaper-tossing contest that pits them against billionaire Warren Buffett himself.

Due to logistical issues, there was no newspaper toss this year. However, in years past, challengers were called upon to throw a rolled-up newspaper 35 feet from the starting line, to the porch of a modular home set-up inside the convention center.

Anyone who got their paper closer to the door than Buffett wins a Dairy Queen Dilly Bar. Even Buffett's friend and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has participated in past years.

Insiders know the game is a callback to one of Buffett's earliest jobs, delivering newspapers door-to-door for The Washington Post.

Although Buffett has spent the majority of his life in Omaha, Nebraska, he lived in Washington, D.C., for a while during his teen years after his father was elected to Congress and moved the family east.

Buffett wasn't too happy about the move and he found himself acting out against both his parents and his new environment. "I was rebellious at first in school, for about year," he tells CNBC in the new documentary, "Warren Buffett: Investor. Teacher. Icon." "I made a real pain of myself, but I calmed down after a while."

Still, it was during his years in Washington that Buffett began to develop a knack for earning money — and for growing it. Delivering papers for The Post earned Buffett $175 a month, enough that he figured initially he didn't have to go to college.

"Before I came to Washington, I had about $120 and when I left, I had about $10,000," Buffett tells CNBC.

Newspapers were just the beginning. Buffett worked a host of other odd jobs as a kid, including selling stamps and golf balls. Now the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, he's worth an estimated $82.1 billion and is the third-richest person in the world.

However, the newspaper-tossing tradition may be coming to an end. The contest was put on hold this year because far too many people wanted to compete, and there simply wasn't enough time to accommodate them all.

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