Nathan Tinkler was the man who had the world at his feet, only to have it all come crashing down.
Opening up to ABC’s Leigh Sales about how he pays the bills and feeds his family day to day, the former coal tycoon and dual sports club owner claimed he was just an average joe who had a rotten spell of luck.
The NSW Hunter Valley electrician with no corporate experience made a fortune betting on coal.
After a meteoric rise, he became Australia’s youngest billionaire after he turned a $1 million investment into $442 million after selling his stake in Macarthur Coal, aged just 32.
“I probably wish I just sailed into the sunset after that point, he told 7.30.
“Can I rewind? To that point in time? I really do wish I did. I don’t know. I was pretty — bullish on the coal sector.
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“I had a win and I wished that I had felt like that money wasn’t burning a hole in my pocket. Personally, I probably wasn’t that happy.
“I’d worked really hard for that previous, for a lot of years and put a lot on the line and then when I got there, just the media attention and everything, I created this, I suppose, this
massive expectation around me that, what am I going to do next?”
But, soon after the massive windfall, he funnelled cash into a string of investments, including horseracing and two football clubs.
When the price of coal price tanked, Mr Tinkler’s heavily indebted empire began to look shaky. He was unable to pay his sports clubs’ debts, including wages to staff and players.
In 2016, he was declared bankrupt.
He told 7.30 he had to pay $1 million to have his bankruptcy annulled — money that was given to him by his father.
Now he says he’s worth “zero” — but he still lives in a “nice home” in Coffs Harbour worth more than $11 million “which is basically owned by secured credit”.
So what does he do to pay the bills now?
“I buy and sell a few shares and that sort of thing and that’s really it,” he told 7.30.
“I do a bit of consulting work and that sort of stuff. That keeps me fed. You’re not talking millions of dollars a year or anything from that. That’s money to get your family through.”
He’s now mulling over the next phase of his business career, but admits it won’t be an easy route back to the top.
“It’s back to ground zero, back to where you started,” he said. “There’s been some dark days, there’s no doubt about that. Eventually you have to dust yourself off. You can’t just fall into a hole forever. You have kids to feed, a family to feed. You’ve got to fight back.”
In numerous media reports since hitting the big time, he’s been accused of not paying contractors and creditors.
But he told 7.30 he wants to set the record straight.
“I haven’t ripped anyone off at the end of the day,” he said. “I’ve lost my own money.
“The misconceptions and so forth are out there in the media and they’re just incredible. You can pull up 1000 articles and you won’t find any of those people who know Nathan Tinkler. It became a massive snowball and too big to stop.
“People will always be driven by media and they will believe that. I’m just an average guy that had a crack. You know, Australians these days, when you fail, they bring a lot of shame to that and everyone wants to kick you and all that sort of stuff. I’ve been well and truly kicked.
“I’m happy to debate that with anyone Australian who’s been kicked more. For what I’ve been kicked for, I’ve lost my own money and there’s plenty of people out there with high paying jobs in the mining industry because of Nathan Tinkler.”