Four things to know about presidential hopeful John McAfee

Four things to know about presidential hopeful John McAfee

Security software pioneer and newly minted presidential candidate John McAfee has led an unusual life, to put it mildly.

He’s played Russian roulette in front of a reporter to prove a point, was once a fugitive from the law in Belize and, just last month, was arrested for an alleged gun violation and driving under the influence.

In keeping with his unconventional style, McAfee’s bid for the White House, announced this week, will be waged a candidate from his own “Cyber Party.”


"I have a huge underground following on the web," McAfee told CNN Money. "I promise you I will win because I have the votes."

On the same day he announced he was running for president, TV network Spike announced they were planning to air a series next year that “will be centered around McAfee's first-person interviews and will reveal unanswered questions about his life ranging from drug-fueled college days in Virginia, to learning to battle computer viruses early in his career at Lockheed in the 1980's, to starting McAfee and Associates in 1987, to the 2012 murder investigation in Belize.”

Here are four know about McAfee as he reenters the national spotlight.

He built fortune on antivirus software, then lost it

McAfee made his millions at the anti-virus company that bore his name. He ultimately cashed out, selling his stake in the firm after taking it public.

But his fortune took a hit during the 2008 recession. He was worth about $100 million before the financial crisis, and less than $10 million after. He said that his losses were exacerbated because much of his money was tied up in real estate.

“My father always said, 'Real estate, you can't lose in real estate' ... you know, oddly enough you can,” he told ABC News at the time.

He sold many of his assets, including houses in Hawaii, Colorado and New Mexico and moved to Belize to develop “natural” antibiotics.

McAfee Associates, the company he founded, was bought by Intel in 2010. They dropped his name from the brand in 2014.

The Russian roulette story

While McAfee was in Belize, a Wired magazine writer visited his compound to report a profile. McAfee pulled out a gun during a conversation with the writer about the Belizean authorities’ interest in his activities.

McAfee put one bullet in the chamber and placed the gun to his head, according to the profile. “Maybe what happened didn’t actually happen. Can I do a demonstration?” he asked the writer, who wrote that he tried to deescalate the situation.

McAfee pulled the trigger repeatedly. Nothing happened.

“I can do this all day long. I can do this a thousand times. Ten thousand times. Nothing will ever happen,” he said. “Why? Because you have missed something. You are operating on an assumption about reality that is wrong.”

The fugitive

In 2012, authorities in Belize investigating the murder of McAfee’s neighbor, Gregory Faull, were looking to speak with McAfee. He and the man had had disputes over McAfee’s dogs and the security guards that watched his property. McAfee told authorities that his dogs had been poisoned two days before Faull died.

McAfee maintained his innocence and fled the authorities. He said he thought he would not get a fair hearing in the country. “Things do not operate here as they do in the States,” he said. “We are living in a near dictatorship where the legal system is subservient to the cabinet."

His flight from Belize made national headlines and media outlet Vice was briefly embroiled in a controversy when it appeared as though they had leaked McAfee’s location accidentally. But after a month on the lam, he ended up in the capital city of Guatemala.

“I like Guatemala. I think the legal system in Guatemala is superior to the legal system in Belize," he told CNN at the time. "Guatemala is close, it is beautiful and most importantly, I enjoy the company of Guatemalans.”

DUI arrest

After a period of relative quiet, McAfee surfaced again when he was arrested earlier this year for a gun possession violation and a DUI in Tennessee. He claimed that while he was impaired, he hadn’t been drinking alcohol. Instead, he said that a new prescription for Xanax had impaired his driving.

"Never taken them before,” he told CNBC. “And in fact I was impaired, I must admit."

He has also been running a company called Future Tense Central. It backs a range of products and services, one of which is called Autonomous Armor. The website for the forthcoming product lists several of McAfee’s accomplishments, before offering a coda.

“Billions of dollars and decades later,” it says. “McAfee is back and at it again.”