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Buffett explains purple shoe question to Jack Welch

November 6, 2012: 5:02 PM ET

Warren Buffett and Jack Welch had a bizarre exchange on CNBC Monday morning in which the Oracle of Omaha praised Welch's prowess as a salesman of purple shoes.

The mystery is now solved, sort of.

In a short email to CNNMoney late Tuesday, Buffett explained that Welch was "one helluva shoe salesman" when he worked for Thom McAn. The Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) (BRKB) CEO said Welch, a former chief executive of General Electric (GE), was especially adept at selling "the purple variety" of shoes. But unless Welch explains further, we may never know the punch line to this very inside joke.

Here is the email in its entirety:

Jack Welch and I are both good friends of Frank Rooney, Chairman of H. H. Brown.  Frank had his 90th birthday about a year ago and Jack told a story about how he started at a Thom McAn shoe store.  He had everybody roaring with laughter as he described how he sold the shoes with the highest commission.  Jack did not realize I was referencing that story when I called in on the phone – I'm sure my call hit him by surprise.  Jack called me after the show as he then realized what I had been referencing.  It's too bad Jack didn't get a chance to tell the story on CNBC, as he would have had everybody rolling in the aisles. He was one helluva shoe salesman (particularly the purple variety).

Warren Buffett

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Ben Rooney
Ben Rooney
Staff writer, CNNMoney

Ben Rooney is a staff writer for CNNMoney. He covers the European debt crisis and other international finance stories, in addition to writing about stocks, bonds, investing and other Wall Street-related news. Follow Ben on Twitter: @ben_rooney

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