Sokolof Tells Buffett Not to Buy Burger King

Millionaire cholesterol fighter Phil Sokolof is urging billionaire investor Warren Buffett to not purchase the Burger King chain, no matter how appetizing the deal may look.

Sokolof, an Omaha businessman who has spent millions of dollars urging people to stay away from fatty food, ran an open-letter ad Tuesday addressing Buffett, who also lives in Omaha.

"Buying a mammoth business whose incredibly high-calorie, horribly high-fat foods lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease would be unconscionable for a man of your stature," Sokolof wrote.

The ad appeared in the Omaha World-Herald's Tuesday morning editions and Sokolof said he planned to run it again, possible expanding to other publications.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the Omaha-based company headed by Buffett, has been mentioned as one of the possible bidders for the Miami-based Burger King, which is being sold by its parent company, Diageo PLC of London.

Buffett's office did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday. In recent weeks, he and other Berkshire officials have refused to comment on what they described as "only speculation."

Sokolof's ad said buying Burger King would compromise Buffett's integrity and soil the image of Berkshire Hathaway.

"I respect Warren and I know that if he gets a hold of Burger King that he will run with it and it will become even more successful, which means, in essence, more people will die from eating that food," Sokolof said Tuesday.

Burger King's vice president of corporate communications, Rob Doughty, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Sokolof, 80, had the first of two heart attacks when he was 43, and he now leads the National Heart Savers Association. He said he has spent $15 million of his wealth, earned by building a company that made products for the drywall industry, in his campaign against cholesterol and fat.

Buffett, one of the country's richest men, created Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway more than 35 years ago. Buying at low prices into well-known, solid companies, Buffett built it into a huge conglomerate.

Berkshire Hathaway owns Dairy Queen and holds shares in McDonald's. While those fast-food holdings also concern Sokolof, he said he thinks Burger King food is even more unhealthy.