Bernard "Bernie" Charles Ecclestone was the son of a fisherman, born in a hamlet of Suffolk, England in 1930. As a kid, he would complete two paper routes before school everyday, spend the money on bakery buns, and then sell the buns at a profit to his classmates.
He left school at the age of 16 to work at a local gas station and pursue his hobby of building motorcycles. He eventually started selling parts and opened his own motorcycle dealership.
After a mediocre run at becoming a Formula One race car driver himself, Ecclestone managed drivers and then bought a team in 1972. He began to broker contracts and TV deals for other F1 teams, and by 1997 had successfully turned F1 into a profitable global franchise.
Ecclestone became a billionaire in 2005 after selling stakes in Formula One Group for $2.5 billion.
That same year, Ecclestone made some controversial comments regarding Indycar racer Danica Patrick: "You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas ... women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances." He later apologized to Patrick.
He's not a stranger to saying controversial things. In a Times interview in 2009, Ecclestone said, "Terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was — in the way that he could command a lot of people — able to get things done."
Ecclestone is buddies with some very powerful people. For instance, his friendship with Vladimir Putin helped secure Russia as a major backer of the Formula One races. An F1 circuit around Sochi's Olympic Park is currently under construction.
Ecclestone has been married three times, but the most famous was to former Armani model Slavica Ecclestone for 23 years. She was 28 years his junior (not to mention 11 inches taller), and they had an extremely rocky marriage. The couple divorced in 2009, with Ecclestone paying Slavica $1.52 billion from his then $3.65 billion fortune.
They had two daughters together, Petra and Tamara. The socialites are frequent fodder for the British tabloids, and are known for buying up super-expensive real estate and handbags.
They also love to hang out on daddy's 198-foot yacht, the Petara.
On November 24, 2010, Ecclestone was ambushed by four men who robbed him of over $300,000 in jewelry. He later posed in an ad for the $17,000 Hublot watch that was stolen (Hublot is not-so-coincidentally a partner of Formula One).
When he was robbed, he was with his then-girlfriend, now-wife Fabiana Flosi. The pair met at a World Motor Sport Council where she regularly attended meetings as a member of the Brazilian Motor Sports Federation board. She's 46 years his junior.
The pair got married at a private ceremony at 'Le Lion,' a ski chalet in the exclusive resort town of Gstaad, Switzerland that Ecclestone owns.
Ecclestone also owns a fleet of private jets, including a Dassault Falcon 7X.
But by all reports, he lives a fairly low-key lifestyle for a multi-billionaire. Ecclestone sold off his incredible car collection in 2007, as well as his humongous London home for $86.58 million.
He now reportedly lives in a penthouse above his office, has milk delivered to his doorstep everyday, and collects miniature Japanese sculptures as a past-time. That's pretty quaint!
On Tuesday, Ecclestone paid $100 million to end an ongoing bribery trial. “This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1,” he said. And he has his work cut out for him, as the sport faces financial challenges and fights to grow its audience.