MIAMI (CBSMiam) – Armando Christian Perez, known to his millions of fans as Pitbull, Mr. Worldwide, or Mr. 305, is a Grammy-winning global superstar who has sold more than 25 million albums and has 15 billion video views worldwide.
He’s also an astute entrepreneur and philanthropist.READ MORE: SEE IT: Puppy-Napping At West Miami-Dade Animal Clinic
During a one on one interview with CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo during the Entertainment Business segment of The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Economic Summit, Perez gave thanks to his hometown for making him who he is today.
“Being a Miami born, Dade County, 305 raised kid, it runs through my blood. I live and die for the city and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Miami and how special it is,” he said.
Perez was a kid from the streets and didn’t finish high school. He credits a teacher who told him he had talent and gave him the motivation that would send him on his path to stardom.
“It’s one thing if it’s your parents or your friends who to turn to you and say ‘I believe in you, you’ve got talent’ but when someone that you just met turns to you and says ‘you know, what you got is talent’. That changed my life,“ he said.
Off he went rapping hit song after hit song and then more.
“It allowed me to take my journey in music and in turn gave me the opportunity for education, business, and entrepreneurship, and so on and so forth, “ Pitbull explained. “And to show the world what a true underdog, a first-generation Cuban American can do out there once you’re given the opportunity.”
Perez has had many successful business ventures, including most recently in the world of auto racing. He’s co-owner of NASCAR’s Trackhouse Racing Team. But he’s most proud of his philanthropy work. He’s helped build several Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) public charter schools. The first was in Little Havana where he grew up.
“It’s been great. We have up to 11 SLAMS now with 10,000 kids and we’ve done that in eight years and we look at education as a real revolution, especially in these times that we’re living in right now,” he said.READ MORE: Authorities: Body Of 'Hero' Recovered; Good Samaritan Tried To Rescue Drowning Father, Son Off Tampa Area Beach
“Was there a moment in your career where you said ‘heck I’ve made it, this is my moment?’,” asked Petrillo.
“I learned this from a friend in Australia. He asked me what’s the biggest room in the world? And I said I don’t know, and he says the biggest room is the room for improvement,” Perez said. “For me it’s all about maintaining it, leading by example, and letting people know I don’t have a perfect story. I’ve taken my life from nothing to something, from negative to positive, but I’ve owned it.”
Pitbull’s musical collaborations with many top artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Usher and Enrique Iglesias are legendary. Petrillo asked what makes him decide who to collaborate with.
“I try to surround myself with people I can learn from, people that I truly enjoy their company, and people we have mutual respect for each other’s talent more than anything, “ he said.
The 40-year-old mega entertainer’s plan is to make more music that unites and give back to those who need it the most.
“In these times right now, what we’ve devoted most of our time to, and biggest plan, is to just give people hope, to inspire them and motivate them to fight through this. I know we’re going to come back with a different level of appreciation,” he explained.
“I make money and money don’t make me, but what I do make, I make it and help people for real,” he added.
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Watch Lisa Petrillo’s complete interview with Pitbull at The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Economic Summit.