Mark Whitacre charges students to lead lives of significance

Mark Whitacre charges students to lead lives of significance

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‘The Informant’ shares story of life transformation

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

Mark Whitacre, former Archer Daniels Midland employee and FBI informant, spoke to students during chapel, Sept. 12.

Mark Whitacre, a former FBI informant, spoke in assembly, Sept. 12. He shared how he cooperated with government officials for three years in an attempt to convict ADM for price fixing.

Whitacre went on to say this inflation occurs when a coalition of companies illegally create an agreement that sets a minimum price and a maximum price for goods. The effects include narrowing competition for products and companies and makes it hard for new companies to enter the market.

The coalition that ADM was apart of included five companies that raised the market price of lysine 70%. The total profit from the scandal was $495-$540 million.

One of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, Archer Daniels Midland, employed Whitacre for six years. Whitacre first told the FBI about the price fixing in 1992. His job was to wear a wire for nine hours a day for three years, the longest time someone has ever worn a wire. Whitacre elaborates on his emotions while undercover.

“The FBI told me often they would meet me at six o’clock every morning for three years Monday through Friday,” Whitacre says. “They would tell me if any one of these guys catch you wearing a wire they are going to kill you. They informed me how serious this stuff was and that I could die.”

After exposing ADM for price fixing, the FBI offered Whitacre a reduced sentence of six months because of his key part in the investigation. Fixed on not serving a prison sentence, Whitacre put his army of lawyers on the case. Drawing the case out for three years, Whitacre finally lost the appeal. The FBI gave him 10 years for embezzling nine million dollars right under their nose. Whitacre reflects on his time in prison.

“While in prison I became a Christian,” Whitacre said. “My wife had been pressuring me for over 10 years to become one, but through two guys, Chuck Colson and Ian House, they came and visited me. They stayed with me and worked through my ignorance so that I could become a Christian.”

Whitacre thinks the best thing that ever happened to him was prison. While it may be a crazy thought to some, that is why he speaks at schools.


“The major goal I have when I speak is to convey to shoot for a life of significance, not a life of success,” Whitacre said. “I was putting all my energy into what the world defines as success, I had a mansion an eight car garage filled with fancy cars but ultimately there was a void in my heart the size of the grand canyon. Prison took away my fancy stuff and helping people get their GED and learn how to read gave me that life of significance.”

Hearing Whitacre explain his story made students wonder if they were living a life of significance. Bryson Graham elaborates on what living a life of significance means to him.

“I think that living a life of significance means to put my focus into God,” Graham said, “Instead of focusing on what the world thinks is good. Having nice cars and lots of money is cool but putting focus on God is even better.”

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

Mark Whitacre meets with Jacob Hyatt, ’21, to discuss the message he wants to share to people worldwide, Sept. 12.

Now, Whitacre travels the country speaking to high school students and helping prisoners earn their GED’s and learning how to read and write. He explains how he came full circle through Operation Timothy, a branch of the nonprofit organization CBMC.

“While I was in prison I helped prisoners learn how to read and write.,” Whitacre said, “I had the opportunity to take advantage of my situation so I did. I am now the COO of Christian Men’s Business Connection. Sure I have had the ability to make more money but I feel that this is my calling.”

Whitacre’s story came full circle from being at the top of a Fortune 500 company, spent nine and a half years in prison, and now the COO of a Christian organization.

For more articles, read Remembering a day of infamy. For more features, read Incoming high schoolers express fears, worries of high school.

This author can be reached via twitter @thejacobhyatt and via email: Jacob Hyatt.

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.

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By |2017-10-03T20:54:46+00:00September 15th, 2017|Features|6 Comments

About the Author:

Jacob Hyatt
Jacob Hyatt, ‘21, passionately pursues computer science and competitive soccer. Earning his computer science degree from Stanford with an emphasis on cyber security, Hyatt plans to become a security analyst. Hyatt earned a perfect score on the CST, a California standardized math test. While pursuing honors courses in English and math, he still finds time to volunteer. He also assists the tech teams at Peoples Church and the campus IT department with their network configurations and help desk requests. Besides his passion for technology, Hyatt plays club soccer for a top 50 high school team in California. He plans to help The Feather team report on sports and express his passion for technology through writing articles in journalism.


  1. Bryce Foshee September 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Seriously amazing story!

  2. Logan Lewis
    Logan Lewis September 18, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Wow, sounds like an amazing guy!

  3. jaideep September 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    This is an amazing story muy bien!

  4. Addie Richardson September 21, 2017 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Great Job Jacob! Amazing story.

  5. Bonnie yang September 21, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    It looks very interesting and learned a lot of new things.

  6. Andrew Rieker
    Andrew Rieker September 21, 2017 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    I liked the brevity but very descriptive article Jacob, great job.

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