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Paul Austin

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJohn Paul•Austin
Used namePaul•Austin
Born14 February 1915 in LaGrange, Georgia (USA)
Died26 December 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia (USA)
AffiliationsRiverside Boat Club, Cambridge (USA)
NOC United States


Paul Austin attended Harvard where he rowed on the crew team, and later attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1940. His Harvard coach once commented, “If you wanted to beat Paul Austin, you’d have to kill him.” After World War II, where he served in the Navy and commanded a PT boat as a lieutenant-commander, he worked briefly at a New York law firm before returning to his native Atlanta, and joined The Coca-Cola Company, having been recruited by the legendary Coke chairman, Robert Woodruff. Woodruff groomed Austin as his successor. Austin became the 10th president of Coca-Cola in 1962, and took over as Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola in 1966, staying in that role thru 1980. Under his tenure, Coke enjoyed 15 consecutive years of market value growth, and he was considered instrumental in expanding its international presence. He also served for a time in the 1970s as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the PGA Tour.

Austin was a big supporter of Martin Luther King and was instrumental in arranging the Atlanta celebrations in honor of his 1964 Nobel Peace prize, despite the city being still largely segregated. Paul Austin was later the first recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change’s Award for corporate social responsibility.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Rowing USA Paul Austin
Coxed Fours, Men (Olympic) United States 2 h3 r2/3


Year of birth earlier listed as 1919.