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If Only T. Boone Pickens Had Died

Because the billionaire raider had a plan that would have enriched Oklahoma State University once he and other alumni passed on. Except none of them did
If Only T. Boone Pickens Had Died
Photograph by Phil Shockley/Oklahoma State University

One morning in September 2007, billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens and 27 men and women gathered in the lobby of Oklahoma State University’s Gallagher-Iba Arena to celebrate that they were all, one day, going to die. Three things united the orange-and-black-clad Cowboy fans: They all were more than 65 years old; they all loved their alma mater; and they all had passed a rigorous physical. “We’re partners in a deal,” Pickens, a graduate of the class of ’51, said once the chatter had died down. “It’s a good deal.”

The deal in question was called Gift of a Lifetime, a name meant to be read literally. Each of the 28 partners had allowed the school to take out a $10 million insurance policy on his or her life, with the annual premiums to be paid by Oklahoma State. For donors, the appeal was simple. The plan cost them nothing. In return they received a bronze statue of the school mascot (a bucking bronco named Pistol Pete), a plaque on the side of the stadium, and the knowledge that their deaths would enrich the school they loved.