Bill Gates may be one of the richest men on the planet, but don’t hit the grocery aisles with the tech titan if you’re on the prowl for bargains. Gates appeared for the first time on the Ellen show on Wednesday, and some good-spirited wackiness occurred as the TV host asked the Microsoft co-founder to guess the prices of five items found in the supermarket.
From the outset, Gates was at a disadvantage, admitting that it was “a long time ago” that he’d last stepped foot in a supermarket.
“This will be interesting,” quipped Ellen, who informed the studio audience that they’d receive a special prize if Gates accurately guessed the prices of three of the five products within a dollar. It didn’t start out so well for Gates, who thought that a package of Rice-A-Roni cost $5 — just a bit higher than the $1 price tag. “I’ll take five,” joked Gates after the big miss.
On the next product, Tide Pods, Gates fared even worse, guessing $4. “They want me to go higher,” said Gates after the audience reacted. Let’s go with $10, said Gates before the $19.97 price was revealed.
Next up, dental floss, a product that Gates said he’d have the best chance to correctly guess. And, lo and behold, the software pioneer (and frequent flosser) scored with a $4 guess — just slightly higher than the $3.78 price tag.
The bag of Totino’s Pizza Rolls really perplexed Gates, who originally guessed $22, before quickly lowering his price to $15. With a little help from the audience, he eventually got in the ballpark of the $8.98 product.
Last up, an 8-ounce package of TGI Friday’s spinach & artichoke dip, which led Gates to ask the audience: “You guys think less than $10?” Ellen eventually had to drop a huge hint, telling Gates to go lower than $5.
Maybe Gates should stick to eradicating polio or improving the educational system.
It wasn’t just the grocery guessing game, as Gates offered his perspective on philanthropy and building a business during the sit-down interview.
In classic Gates’ fashion, the 62-year-old billionaire downplayed his wealth, noting that “I just loved doing software” and “I was stunned when it ended up being so valuable.”
In the early days of Microsoft, Gates said he always worried about making payroll — in part because many of the people working at the company were older with families. “I was always conservative about the finances, and then when we did go public — was I 30 by then? — I was stunned at what it multiplied out to,” he said. Even so, Gates recounted how he liked to keep enough money in the bank to make payroll for a year, even if all of the customer revenue dried up.
Gates — who according to Forbes has a net worth of $91.3 billion — said he doesn’t have many wild indulgences, just a Porsche, a private plane and an indoor trampoline room in his house. “I recommend it,” Gates told Ellen with a laugh about the trampoline as his 21-year-old daughter watched the show.
You can watch his interview with Ellen above.