Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay knows firsthand how effective Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can be if members follow the program. Some 25 years ago, Irsay attended his first meeting. He believes so strongly in the program that he wants to share it with others.
The document, referred to as the “Big Book,” penned by AA’s founders when they started the program, recently went up on the auction block and Irsay won the winning bid at $2.4 million. Now Irsay says that he will display it several times a year at the organization’s headquarters in New York so that anyone who wants to read it may do so.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Irsay talked about just how impressive the manuscript is. The 161-page document contains handwritten notes by the organization’s founding fathers. Irsay is impressed with the Big Book’s contents, as well as AA’s reach and impact on the lives of addicts and their extended families. He is convinced that going public about his purchase and making it available to everyone is a great way to pay it forward.
Irsay told the media outlet that sharing his battles with addiction can only help take away the stigma and the shame of substance abuse. Sharing what he has learned will not only help in his own recovery, but it will also help others feel less alone in the process.
The original manuscript is said to have been translated into 43 languages, sold 30 million copies since 1939, and has been ranked by the Library of Congress as one of the most impactful books on American culture. Irsay described it as “absolutely mind-blowing” and “a miracle” to see it firsthand.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 by William Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. Its 12 Steps are a spiritually-based group of principles whose aim is to help people of all backgrounds achieve and maintain sobriety. The “Big Book” and the 12 Steps and 12 Principles are available to read online, but Irsay has vowed to act as a steward of the original manuscript. He has announced plans to send it out on a tour so that others may also experience it in person.