AP Business Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Meeting Warren Buffett was exciting, but 10-year-old Matthew Meyer said winning $5,000 and 10 shares of stock in Buffett's company made Monday the best day of his life.
Matthew said he never expected to make the finals in Omaha, much less win the entrepreneurial contest tied to "The Secret Millionaire's Club" cartoon that drew nearly 4,000 entries online. The Cincinnati boy said his winnings make him "rich-ish" because $5,000 is quite a lot.
"I've wanted to be an investor all my life, so this is a dream come true," said Matthew, who designed a wristband with an elastic strap that helped him learn to hold a pen correctly.
The cartoon, featuring an animated Buffett who teaches financial lessons, airs on the Hub cable network and online at www.smckids.com . Buffett supports the cartoon's efforts to teach kids financial principles, such as avoiding debt, and he voices his own character.
But Matthew said he made sure to tell the billionaire that "he looks nothing like the cartoon."
Buffett said he was impressed with the thought the kids all put into their products and how articulate they were. He gave all the finalists, who range in age from 7 to 16, and their teachers 10 Class B Berkshire shares.
"They so far ahead of where I was at that age," Buffett said.
The chairman and CEO of the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate said he hopes the kids come away with the understanding that the more education they get, the more they'll be able to earn. But mostly he said he just posed for pictures with the kids Monday and offered encouragement.
Buffett regularly meets with groups of college students who come to Omaha to ask him questions about business and life. He said he's trying to pass on some of the lessons he's learned because he had good teachers who helped him when he was young.
Kennedy Sabharwal, who won the group competition with her brother and her cousin, said meeting Buffett was the best part of the event.
"He's such a great guy. He even let me hold his wallet for a picture," said Kennedy, 13, of Lexington, Ky. Kennedy worked with her 16-year-old brother Spencer Sabharwal and her cousin Sawyer Beeler, of Liberty, Ky., to design an entrepreneurial kit to equip kids who want to run their own business.
The winning individual and all the members of the winning team received $5,000. Runners-up get $500.
The Fairholme Foundation sponsors the contest, and By Kids For Kids oversees it.
The foundation's trustee, fund manager Bruce Berkowitz of investment firm Fairholme Capital Management, said he hopes the event continues to grow because the kids learned valuable lessons while trying to launch a business and by interacting with Buffett.
"Anything to do with Warren Buffett is worth doing. The man is clearly the Benjamin Franklin of our time," Berkowitz said.
Besides Matthew Meyer, the other individual finalists were: Max Wallack of Natick, Maine; Krissa Hillman of Savage, Md.; Fabian Fernandez-Han of Conroe, Texas; Alexis Pollitto of Colts Neck, N.J.
The other group finalists were: Molly McKiernan, Michael Park, Charles Ripepi and Austin Hayhurst from the Cleveland area; and Clarissa Henry and Esai Prescod of Seattle.
Follow Josh Funk online at www.twitter.com/funkwrite
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: www.berkshirehathaway.com
Secret Millionaire's Club: www.smckids.com
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