Not many people make the jump from the farmlands of northern Canada to membership in the global billionaire’s club, but that’s exactly the storyline of Calvin Ayre’s dream life.
Born to farmer parents on May 25, 1961 in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan - a small town on the 53rd parallel that he says is colder than a well digger’s belt buckle - Ayre founded online gaming giant Bodog with just $10,000 in 1994. Since then, the company's grown from a small online gaming startup into a multi-faceted global entertainment brand.
Although he's always maintained the hard work ethic of his upbringing in the frigid Canadian climate, Calvin's now hotter than one of the lavish, bikini-littered Antiguan pool parties that he's been known to throw.
"It's safe to say my life's changed pretty substantially since those days on the farm," says Ayre. "A private jet, a few houses in the tropics and many, many more beautiful women."
The ambitious entrepreneur has appeared on programs such as BNN, VH1, Extra, Careers TV and CNBC and was named one of Star Magazine's "Most Eligible Billionaire Bachelors" and one of People Magazine's "Hottest Bachelors". "Being named one of Star's most eligible billionaire bachelors and one of People's hottest bachelors has been great for the reputation," says Ayre.
Calvin's pioneering success in online gaming was leveraged in 2005 when Bodog licensed its brand to partners in areas like television and music. These brand licensees signed artists like legendary hip-hop act Wu-Tang Clan, and produced of some of the largest events in mixed martial arts history. In fact, Bodog Fight: Clash of the Nations drew a sold-out crowd to St. Petersburg's Ice Palace, an audience that included Russian President Vladimir Putin who invited Ayre and the Bodog fighters back to his residence after the event.
"It's been a long, strange trip these last few years, but that one was a real honor," says Ayre of the invite from Putin. "It's not every day that you get to go to dinner at the home of a head of state."
Ayre is also a committed philanthropist, donating countless hours and dollars to the Calvin Ayre Foundation, which, among other things, focuses on global issues such as the environment, improving the health and educational conditions of under-privileged children and fighting the horrors of bear bile farming and evils of animal cruelty.
"What's the good of being successful if you can't share it and have a little fun in the process?" Ayre says.
In 2008, Ayre funded the creation and distribution of a graphic novel called Ayre Force. The graphic novel brought the plight of bear bile farming to the forefront and raised awareness of an issue that is largely unknown by the general public. All materials used in the creation and distribution of Ayre Force were environmentally friendly and all proceeds from sales of the graphic novel went towards putting an end to bear bile farming once and for all.
Recently, the Calvin Ayre Foundation helped finance an upgrade to a school on Ayre's tropical island home of Antigua, and he says he's happy to give back to the island.
In the spring of 2008, Ayre officially announced his retirement to focus on the works of his charitable foundation, though he doesn't plan on giving up his bad boy lifestyle anytime soon.
"With the global expansion of Bodog's brand licensing operations in the last few years, I've spent so much time traveling the world that I've rarely stayed in one location for more than a few weeks at a time," says Ayre. "Now that I'm retired, I plan to take full advantage of living in the tropical paradise that is Antigua. The sun, the beaches, the girls... It's amazing."
Source Calvin Ayre - Biography of Bodog Founder Calvin Ayre