As the host of Making Money with Charles Payne for FOX Business since 2014, Payne knows a thing or two about investing. But many may not realize this veteran airmen once fought his way out of poverty.
Payne’s father was a soldier so he was used to moving often and living in military housing across the globe. But when he was 12 years old, his parents divorced. His mother took Payne and two brothers back home to Harlem. The experience of growing up in those streets at the height of crime and violence would change his life.
“At that time it was the most dangerous and poorest place in America. It was a complete culture shock but by then I was the oldest and thrust into a position of responsibility,” he explained. “I never knew you could move into a place and not have heat or water for an entire winter.”
It was then that Payne said he started hustling. You could find him in the streets cleaning windows or shooting dice. Then he’d run all his earnings up to his mother. He said he always had his eye on the military as an opportunity to get out and build a life.
“At 17 years old I took the test for the Air Force and went in officially 10 days after my 18th birthday,” Payne said. After boot camp and training in 1980, he found himself getting stationed in Texas and eventually North Dakota as Military Police. Another culture shock.
Despite loving the military, he wanted more. “When I was in high school I used to draw logos for the business I wanted to have...the best Christmas gift I ever got was a briefcase my mother got for me. Actually, I said I wanted to work on Wall Street when I was 14 years old,” Payne shared.
When he left the Air Force in 1985 he was married and had a young daughter. Payne thought he’d have an easy transition with his military learned skills, but he didn't. He found himself living with his mother and family in Harlem again, at the height of the crack epidemic.
“One thing you had in the military was security. If you break your arm you know it’s going to get fixed but nothing is guaranteed once you get out,” he said.
After working various odd jobs and connecting to employment agencies, he caught a break when one of the veteran workers saw his military experience. “Not long after that I got an interview at E. F. Hutton which at the time was of the premium firms on Wall Street. The next day I got the call that I got the job. It still ranks as one of the happiest moments of my life,” Payne shared.
So what was it that kept him going through a tumultuous childhood and bringing him to the moment of having a dream realized? He said it was those hardships. “It really made me a fighter...Once we go to war, I don’t care how big the target is or who it is, I'll go to the death. Whatever it takes, when I think I have right on my side and I love taking up for other people,” he said.
It was his endless drive and passion which would lead him to establishing his own stock market research firm in 1991, where he eventually owned his own office on Wall Street. In 2007, he wrote the book Be Smart, Act Fast, Get Rich: Your Game Plan for Getting It Right in the Stock Market.
In that same year, he joined FOX as a contributor and seven years later he was hosting his own show. Despite his obvious success from years of hard work, Payne remains unwaveringly committed to bringing other veterans into creating better futures for themselves and their families.
Payne will present a special military edition of his live 2PM/ET program on Wednesday, July 21, 2021: Making Money with Charles Payne: Proud American from the Military to Marketplace. As America finalizes troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and ends a 20-year war, it's his goal to help prepare veterans for a new future as the country approaches a drawdown in forces.
FOX wants veterans to email or call in with their questions where Payne will field them live on the show. “My goal is to answer as many questions and the greatest variety of questions as I can,” he said. A representative from Amazon will also be present to discuss their commitment to hiring veterans as well as other industry experts.
“We’ll have Joey Jones [combat-wounded Marine Corps veteran and FOX Nation host] who will talk about his story and others. I think it helps other veterans to see and know people care,” he explained.
For this airman who brought himself from poverty in Harlem through the Air Force and achieved his Wall Street dream, the future is bright. And he wants to share the opportunity with other veterans, too.
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