Albuquerque’s favorite sons

The Flying Maloof Brothers

The story of the Maloofs in America starts in another Las Vegas, a dusty, heartbreak of a town in New Mexico two hours northeast of Albuquerque. George Maloof Sr. was the son of Lebanese immigrants who ran a general store there, a place that supplied local ranchers with the necessities of life. The family moved to Albuquerque to focus on beer distribution just before George Sr. went off to the University of Colorado. He had to hurry home to take over the business after his father suffered a heart attack.

In a relatively poor state like New Mexico, being a beer distributor makes you a very important person, particularly if your brand has 50 percent market share, which Coors did in its heyday there. So when one of Albuquerque’s major banks was ailing in 1976, George Sr., a member of its board, was asked to take over. ”My dad got puffed up and flattered and he came home and told my mom, You know, such-and-such wants me to be the chairman of the board,” Joe said. ”And my mom looked at him — and this was the statement that probably saved us — and she saPOSTID: ‘Are you crazy? Why do you want to work so hard for someone else? Why don’t you just buy it?”’

Colleen’s intervention would be worth $140 million (the amount in stock the bank was sold for in 1993) and underwrite the dreams of the entire Maloof family.

The four bachelor Maloof brothers, owners of a Las Vegas casino, the Sacramento Kings and an “everyday mardi gras of cleavage, fast cars and front-row seats.”