Circus owners are a varied lot indeed. Some were born into circus families. Some ran away with the circus as youngsters and worked their way up through the ranks of ticket takers and candy butchers. Others are entrepreneurs and businessmen. And still more see themselves as creative artists, sometimes even serving as headline performers. There are owners who never miss seeing a performance of their own shows, and others who never leave winter quarters.
Why would anybody want to own a circus? Everyone knows that its a very tough business. The short historical list of people who were successful at running or owning their own shows suggests that a lot of pain went with the job. Plenty of owners, including P.T. Barnum, made fortunes, only to lose them again. Many, like Dan Rice, the circus-owner clown who wanted to be president, died as forgotten alcoholics. Yankee Robinson, the boom-or-bust pioneer owner who gave the Ringlings a boost at the beginning of their career, died broke.
At least for these and many other men, there was always a chance for economic success. That had to be enough, and in many cases success was irrelevant anyway. Consequences, and the possibility of failure were not part of the equation.