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Eugene Rodgers on: Raising Money for the First Expedition
Eugene Rodgers Q: How did Byrd raise money for the first expedition, how good was he at it?

ER: Byrd was very good at raising money for his first expedition. And subsequent expeditions for that matter. His principal source of funds for the expedition was the advertising rights he sold to people like Skippy Peanut Butter and Crisco lard and things like that, companies whose products were used on the expedition. They were able to advertise that the Byrd expedition used our products. Byrd also got money from newspapers, from the lecture circuit, from magazines and so forth. And this money he put into his own bank account. He intended that to be his profit for running the expedition. As it turned out his donations from millionaires and from companies wasn't quite enough, more than quite -- he fell short by $120,000, I believe it was. Not enough to finance the expedition. So in the end he donated some of what he considered his personal funds to the expedition.

The expedition was a huge undertaking, financially and in every other way really. It was the biggest expedition ever to go to Antarctica. It cost in the end, $1.1 million dollars. And that was really a tremendous figure. We lose sight of it these days because we speak of the national debt as trillions of dollars. But back at that time the national budget was around $4 billion dollars. A subway ride in New York cost a nickel. A home in the close in suburbs to New York City cost $20,000. So money went a long way then. At one point one million dollars was really $1.1 million dollars, a lot of money. And Byrd had to raise it all himself, the government provided absolutely nothing.

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