The Famous SD Chicken and Ted Turner

Last week in our visit with Ted, he talked about some of the people who have most surprised him through the years. As we continue this week, Ted talks about another rather famous Ted …



Padres360 – Now didn’t you know Ted Turner?

Ted – I really always appreciated Ted Turner. He really put me on the map nationally more than anybody else when he came and approached me with the idea of leaving San Diego and coming with him. I couldn’t do it at the time. I just felt I couldn’t leave San Diego. There were too many emotional tie-ins with the community, the fans. I just couldn’t do it. His offer was truly magnanimous. He took it hard at first, when I said no. But then was very good about it afterwards and very complimentary. And I’ve always respected his business acumen.

I remember one time though. It was in the ‘80s. I’m doing a game for the Cincinnati Reds and it’s against Atlanta. And there in the front row, unbeknownst to me at the time, was Ted Turner. And I’m dancing on top of the dugouts. I said, “Oh my, gosh!” And he’s entertaining a few clients there. And he’s sitting there and it was a chilly night and he’s sitting there in his overcoat. And he looks up to me and I say, “Ted, how you doing?” And he says to me, “Ted, I just have one question. What the heck are you going to do with all your money?” And I said, “Ted, I don’t know. I’ll probably by a cable station.” And he got the biggest kick out of that.

He got the biggest kick out of that. And I remember he always held a sense of humor and I always appreciated that.  But those are the ones that readily come to mind. There are probably more.

Padres360 – Any regrets regarding your relationship with Turner?

Ted:  I actually look back to that time again with Ted Turner. And there’s no way I could have gone to Atlanta. I wish I could have done something more with Ted at the time. I don’t think I touched upon, but Ted pitched me to come to Atlanta. And he really put me on the map. And when I turned him down, I couldn’t break away from San Diego. But I remember I just wish that I could have done more with him. Because I remember he said, “We’re going to do crazy things on TV that’s never been done before. I’m going to give you your own show.” I remember Ted Turner telling me what he was pitching me, there in person.

He brought me to a Braves game with the Padres. And the whole idea was for him to pitch me to come to Atlanta, stay there and, “Don’t even go back to San Diego. I’m hiring you on the spot.” Pulls out a business card and he writes on there at the time, “For my pal, Ted Giannoulas, $50,000.” And he goes, there’s our contract right there. For a kid making at the time $6 an hour as I was, that was phenomenal. And then he upped that later on, when word got out that I was considering it. And so I remember, I wish I could have done more with him. But he put me on the map. But he said, “I’ll give you your own TV show.” And the thing he said to me, “You come with me and I’ll make you bigger than Mickey Mouse.”

And I still remember that line and I believed him. I believed him. I was a big fan of Ted. But I said “Hey, I just couldn’t leave San Diego. There’s too much emotion tied up here. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” And the night I announced it at Jack Murphy Stadium in the middle of a Padre game that I’m staying in San Diego, got a crazy standing ovation. And the players ran onto the field en masse talking about the times as they were back that way. And they picked me up on their shoulders and carried me off the field like a World Series hero, off the field in the middle of the fifth inning, carrying me off.

The whole team came off the bench and carried me off after I made the announcement. “He’s staying in San Diego and he’s turning down Atlanta’s six-figure offer!” And they carried me off the field. And there’s a big picture in the front page above the fold in San Diego Union the next day of the players carrying me off the field and a big banner article by Jack Murphy himself talking about ‘Chicken Stays in San Diego Roost’.

And it was a crazy moment and I wish I could have done something more with Ted. But there’s only one of me. And I couldn’t do it and I had to stay in San Diego. I just had to.

Padres360:  It turned out pretty well for you.

Ted:  Had I gone with Ted Turner, I really believe he would have made it bigger than Mickey Mouse as he would have promised. He says, “I was going to give you your own show.” And he was telling me, “Heck, I was going to put you in an office next door to Hank Aaron.”

He was throwing everything at me, you know? But at the end, I just couldn’t go there. Nothing because of him, but because of the heart that San Diego had for what I was doing. That was it. I couldn’t leave it, I just couldn’t leave it. Yeah.

Padres360:  You were and are truly loved.   Like I said, I grew up seeing you. And the guys who are my age that lived here, it’s like you’re an icon. You are a main event guy. We are very glad you stayed.

This video shows one of the many “bits” that fans adore!


sdchicken cartoon

Next week we find out the only major city in North America where the Famous SD Chicken has yet to perform! Also – learn about some fun cameo appearances and the famous MLB player who wanted to trade autographs. Check next week’s edition of Tuesdays with Ted.

Wayne & Rebecca

For Padres360

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