As some of you may recall, back in 2007, Warren Buffett told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders that they were in for a big treat at the company’s annual meeting– the opportunity to play an 11 year-old girl, Ariel Hsing, in table tennis. Buffett met Hsing when she was 9 and after having his ass handed to him at the table, decided she’d make for great entertainment in Omaha. At the time, Hsing was ranked number one among girls under 16 in the US and now, thanks to what we choose to believe was some Bela Karolyi-esque grooming on Buffett’s part, she’s hit it big.
At 16, she is America’s top-ranked under-18 player and No. 2 overall. Two weeks ago, she won a spot on the U.S. Olympic table-tennis team. At the Berkshire bash in Omaha this weekend, shareholders will have a chance to challenge her. “She’s a killer,” says Buffett, a ping-pong enthusiast who first met Hsing when she was 9. “I knew right away she had the potential to be great because she had this determination. There was no doubt in my mind she was going to put in the hours.”
No shareholders succeeded [at beating Ariel], including Microsoft founder Bill Gates. So enthusiastic a ping-pong player that at home he plays against an automatic serving machine, Gates squared off against Ariel and got trounced, says Buffett, adding that “his manhood got challenged.” A spokeswoman for Gates said he was unavailable for comment but passed along his admiration for Ariel…A high-school junior, Ariel has maintained stellar grades while pursuing a spot in the Olympics, a dream she shares with many, including the Omaha admirer whom she calls “Uncle Warren.” In a note to her last September, Buffett wrote, “I will come watch you in the Olympics—whether 2012 or 2016.”
“The Olympics” as in the real Olympics, in case anyone was wondering.