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