The Washington Post

Has T-Mobile’s foul-mouthed CEO crossed the line?

John Legere, chief executive officer of T-Mobile. (Bloomberg)

Update: A previous version of this article identified T-Mobile as “consistently in third place behind AT&T and Verizon.” The company is actually in fourth place.

Mohandas Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

T-Mobile chief executive John Legere seems stuck in the second part of this aphorism.

Legere, head of the telecommunications company consistently in fourth place behind AT&T and Verizon, offered some semi-printable commentary at a press event on Wednesday.

He introduced T-Mobile’s free test of their network with a iPhone 5S, but it wasn’t the freebie that made headlines.

Legere on his competitors’ failure to offer unlimited data: “They’re greedy bastards.”

On his competitors’ advertisements: “Maps and charts and promises and happy families running through the g–damn store — what the f— do I care about all that?”

On how high charges for data impact music streaming: “Every g–damn note you listen to including the ads we’re going to charge you for.”

On Pharrell: “That guy that sings ‘Happy’ … makes me sick.”

On his competitors’ lack of largesse: “These high and mighty duopolists that are raping you for every penny you have, if they could do something nice for you they would. The f–kers hate you.”

The rape comment in particular did not go over well.

Brendan Greeley of Bloomberg Businessweek:

Legere is playing a game here. Every time he makes a public appearance, he needs to be just offensive enough to get our attention. That means he has to be slightly more offensive than the last time he got our attention. This is a machine with a ratchet, and it has now produced the deeply unfunny word “rape.” Perhaps no word is sacred, but that’s a defense for an act of art — not a corporate communications strategy. John Legere sells phone plans for a living. He’s not Sarah Silverman or Lenny Bruce.

Legere offered a catch-all apology on Thursday:

As rumors swirl that Sprint and T-Mobile will merge to take on AT&T and Verizon, Legere seems to enjoy being the underdog. It’s a status that lets him wear pink shirts under black blazers, call his company “the Uncarrier” and let epithets fly.

Previous examples, courtesy the International Business Times:

One the family plan: “The family plan is one of the biggest evils in this industry…. Lower prices. That is total horses–t.”

On the future of telecommunications: “We are either going to take over this whole industry, or these bastards are going to change, and the whole industry is going to shift. I don’t give a g–damn which. I can’t wait to watch the peckers scream and cry.”

On disruption: “All the disruption in the world doesn’t mean s–t without a network to back it up.”

On the planned Amazon smartphone:

(Disclosure: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

“I don’t walk closely up against the line. I ignore it. It’s who I am,” Legere told Business Insider earlier this year. “I may be a little rough and crude, but I’m much more like my customers and employees than I am an executive. I think employees relate to the way I speak, customers relate to exactly the way I think and talk. And it’s who I am.”

If T-Mobile does merge with Sprint, the resulting conglomerate could have a market cap of about $50 billion.

That’s still only about one-quarter of AT&T or Verizon — but might be big enough to force Legere to clean up his act and spring for a tie.

For those who want more, more vintage Legere:

Justin Wm. Moyer is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Follow him on Twitter: @justinwmmoyer.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Lindsey Bever · June 20, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.