We reported earlier that Disney CEO Bob Iger made the 2023 list of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
While discussing the topic with TIME, Iger addressed the termination of Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter and several other hot-button topics, including the company’s ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the Reedy Creek Improvement District and ESPN’s exploration of sports betting.
During the interview, Iger was asked if he’d be willing to discuss Disney’s feud with the state of Florida. DeSantis and state legislature stripped the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) of its powers over Walt Disney World. The RCID was established more than 55 years ago to assist in creating Walt Disney World, effectively allowing the company to govern itself.
Last month, one day before DeSantis’s hand-picked board took over the district, most of the power was handed back to Disney as developer agreements were passed, causing a considerable number of observers to claim that Disney won the battle over DeSantis.
In his interview with TIME, Iger took a more measured approach, saying he would be happy to meet with DeSantis over the district.
I do not view this as a going-to-mattresses situation for us. If the governor of Florida wants to meet with me to discuss all of this, of course, I would be glad to do that. You know, I’m one that typically has respected our elected officials and the responsibility that they have, and there would be no reason why I wouldn’t do that.
Disney World opened just over 50 years ago. It was the vision and the dream of Walt Disney, probably the most ambitious thing he ever did—turning swampland in Central Florida into a business that employs over 75,000 people, that is visited by tens of millions of people every year, that is a major tourist destination in the United States, and for the state of Florida, that creates huge value for our company and its employees, and for the state of Florida itself. Our sole goal in Florida is to continue creating that value for all those constituencies. All we want is a relationship with the state that enables us to continue to do that. We have the wherewithal and we have the desire to continue to invest there to grow that business so that we can hire more people so that we can increase our attendance, and so that we can basically increase more value for the Walt Disney Company and for the state of Florida. It’s that simple.Bob Iger, CEO, The Walt Disney Company
ESPN has been exploring potential sports betting partnerships to grow its business for years. During his first tenure as CEO, Iger was skeptical of ESPN getting involved in betting, voicing concern about its impact on the larger Disney brand. In his interview with TIME, it appears that he has changed his mind about it.
I was probably on the more conservative side about this for a long time. But I’ve changed because I think the acceptance of sports betting has grown significantly. And my desire is to see that the company continues to serve its consumers well, without us really, I think, distancing ourselves from values, because we’re not actually causing the bets to be made. We’re just enabling people to link to companies that do that.Bob Iger, CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Senior Editor for the DIS and DCL Fan | Disney Vacation Club Member | Thrilled to have been a '13/'14 Disney Parks Moms Panelist (now planDisney) | Lover of all things Disney; the Magic of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruise Line | ºoº