Disney's Bob Iger taunts Florida with an ominous threat: 'Does the state want us to invest more, employ more, and pay more taxes — or not?'

Disney's Bob Iger taunts Florida with an ominous threat: 'Does the state want us to invest more, employ more, and pay more taxes — or not?'
Disney CEO Bob Iger issued a threat to Florida during the company's earnings call on Wednesday.RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
  • Last month, Disney sued Gov. Ron DeSantis, escalating a war that's gone on for more than a year.
  • Disney's CEO Bob Iger addressed the feud during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

Disney's feud with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has gone from bitter to downright acrimonious in recent months.

During Disney's second-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Bob Iger threw the latest punch, seemingly making a threat to the state and the governor.

"One question: Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes — or not?" he asked.

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"We've built a business that employs, as we've said before, over 75,000 people and attracts tens of millions of people to the state," Iger said.

He added that Disney was "the largest taxpayer in Central Florida," paying over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes last year.


DeSantis and Disney have been locked in a power struggle that began when Disney pushed back against a controversial bill, nicknamed the "Don't Say Gay Bill." Since then, DeSantis has been trying to wrest control from — or, as Disney puts it, retaliate against — the company.

Over the past year, DeSantis has worked to dismantle Disney's special-tax district, which gives the company certain self-governing rights. He's also considered constructing toll roads in and around the park, and suggested building a competing theme park or prison nearby.

Things took a turn last month when the entertainment giant sued the governor, accusing him of seeking to "weaponize government power" against the company.

The feud is about "one thing and one thing only, and that's retaliating against us for taking a position about pending legislation," Iger said during Wednesday's earnings call. The Disney CEO said the company was "merely exercising our right to free speech" by taking a position against the "Don't Say Gay Bill."

Iger added that the special privileges Disney has been given to essentially govern itself are a direct function of how much the company contributes to the state's economy — and that they aren't, in fact, all that special. He said that there were about 2,000 special districts in Florida, including the Daytona Speedway and a retirement community called The Villages.


"We pay more taxes, specifically more real-estate taxes, as a result of that special district," he added.

Ultimately, he turned the question back to DeSantis, asking whether the state could really afford to lose the jobs and money that Disney is generating.

The ball is in DeSantis' court.

Disney and a representative for Ron DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.