CEOs Say the Darndest Things

PHOTO: John Mackey, chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market Inc., speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Nov. 16, 2009.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

They may run billion-dollar companies with thousands of employees, but sometimes the people in charge don't know when to be a little less, er, blunt.

Consider Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey, who was on NPR this week plugging his new book, "Conscious Capitalism." During the interview, he compared Obamacare to fascism. "In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it -- and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms," he said.

Whole Foods customers were not pleased, and Mackey subsequently apologized for his gaffe. "I regret using that word now because it's got so much baggage attached to it," he told HuffPo Live. "Of course, I was just using the standard dictionary definition."

Mackey isn't the only CEO whose pronouncement was weird, incendiary or just plain wrong. Here are seven more.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata

"Customers do not want online games."--Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, in a 2004 interview with the Japan Economic Foundation's magazine, Japan Spotlight.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates

"Two years from now, spam will be solved."-- Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, in a 2004 comment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Ken Olsen, co-founder of Digital Equipment Corp.

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."--Digital Equipment Corporation co-founder Ken Olsen, at a 1977 meeting of the World Future Society in Boston.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary

"Seatbelts don't matter."-- Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, who has suggested standing room only flights.

Read more about standing room only flights

Donald Trump, chairman and president, Trump organization

"If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications, and passport application and records, I will give to a charity of his choice, a check immediately for $5 million."--Donald Trump, Chairman and president, Trump organization, in an October, 2012 You Tube video.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

I'm going to f---ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f---ing kill Google."--Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Sept. 2005.

Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."--Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP, May, 2010. In June, he told Gulf Coast residents: "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back."

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