Celebrity Sports Fans Who Have Also Owned Teams
Growing up, how many of you dreamed of owning your own sports team? For many of us, the money it costs to buy a stake in our hometown favorites is a fantasy. For celebrities like Jennifer Lopez who have worked their entire careers building a personal brand, the dream can become a reality. Do you know which NFL team Fergie is a part-owner of? Or which NBA franchise Justin Timberlake bought into? Keep reading to find out those answers and learn which other celebrities have been part owners of sports teams around the world!
Will Smith Bought His Way Into The 76ers In 2011
On October 18, 2011, it was announced that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith bought a minority percentage of the Philadelphia 76ers. Smith went to high school in West Philadelphia and jumped at the opportunity to buy into his hometown team.
At the time of the purchase, guard Evan Turner said, “I think it’s dope that the fresh prince is one of our new owners. Maybe Willow can perform at halftime.”
Justin Timberlake Owns A Small Portion Of The Memphis Grizzlies
It’s no secret that Justin Timberlake is a huge NBA fan. He’s such a big fan that he even bought into the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012. Through the investment group Tennman Sports, LLC, the pop star was able to buy a 2.84 percent stake in the team.
Timberlake was 33-years-old at the time, and his purchase confused fans who were used to seeing him in Los Angeles Lakers gear in Southern California. When one tried to call him out as a bandwagon fan of Memphis, he was quick to reply that he was from the city and was actually a part-owner of the team.
Fergie Bought A Stake In The Dolphins In 2009
Stacy Ferguson, better known as Fergie to her fans, first became connected to the Miami Dolphins as a member of the Black Eyed Peas. The band had a marketing partnership with the NFL team, and in 2009, Fergie expanded her role with the club.
The NFL owners approved the singer’s purchase of a minority stake in the Dolphins that season. The same year, team owner Stephen Ross brought six other major celebrities into his ownership group.
Bill Maher Jumped At The Chance To Buy Into The Mets’ Family
Financially strapped in 2012, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon put up 12 minority stakes in the team, each equaling four percent ownership. Comedian Bill Maher jumped at the chance, paying $20 million to own a part of his favorite team.
Asked about his big purchase at the time, Maher remarked, “I think it’s a great investment. I think it’s a great team that I’ve been rooting for since they came into existence, which was soon after I came into existence.”
Usher Has Been Representing The Cavaliers Since 2005
The sale of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005 to Dan Gilbert was a big deal to more than just the city of Cleveland. Pop superstar Usher Raymond was quietly a part of the new ownership group, giving him a small stake in the team.
Usher’s ownership of the team became more prominent during the second LeBron James era, which resulted in the city’s first-ever NBA title. The singer was spotted watching from the stands during the 2016 Finals.
Michael Jordan Is The Hornets’ Head Honcho
After his playing days in the NBA were over, Michael Jordan stepped into a role behind the scenes. In 2005, the icon bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats and become the head of basketball operations.
In 2010, the team’s majority owner sold his stake to Jordan, making him the first former NBA player to ever own a majority share in a team. Shortly after, Jordan petitioned to have the team’s name changed from the Bobcats to the Hornets.
The Williams Sisters Bought A Piece Of The Dolphins Together
Remember when we said a bunch of celebrities bought into the Miami Dolphins with Fergie in 2009? One set of those celebs was the Williams sisters, two of the greatest tennis stars of all-time. The purchase, surprisingly, provided a bit of self-reflection for the South Floridians:
“It’s great going to the games for us. When we play tennis, you’re so focused you don’t really get to feel that atmosphere. When we go to a Dolphins game, we get to soak in the atmosphere and we realize, ‘Oh my God, we do this too.'”
Magic Johnson Owns Several Los Angeles Franchises
In 2012, Magic Johnson was a part of an ownership group that paid $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time, it was the most money ever paid to buy a professional sports team.
In 2014, Johnson added to his portfolio by purchasing a stake in the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. That same year, he also helped bring the expansion team Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) to Major League Soccer, giving him minority ownership in three LA professional sports franchises.
Bill Murray Owns A Independent League Baseball Team
Comedian Bill Murray is much more than just a funny actor — he’s also a shrewd businessman and sports team owner. While we don’t know when Murray bought his stake into the Independent League team the St. Paul Saints, we can confirm he is involved with the team’s decision making.
The next big decision for the Saints will be deciding whether they want to affiliate themselves with the Major League Baseball club, effectively turning them into a minor league team.
Nelly Bought Into The Bobcats Early
When the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) entered the NBA in 2004, they had one famous rapper as a financial backer — Nelly. The majority owner at the time, Robert L. Johnson, was ecstatic to have the musician aboard:
“This is a great opportunity for both the Bobcats and Nelly… Nelly is a great entertainer and a smart businessman and those two traits will serve us well as we prepare to tipoff our inaugural season this fall.” Nelly remained an owner with the Bobcats until Michael Jordan bought his majority share in 2010.
Gloria Estefan Joined The Dolphins’ Celebrity Club
Continuing our exploration of the 2009 Miami Dolphins’ celebrity ownership group leads us to Gloria Estefan. The iconic singer was more than happy to join in with her husband to add their names to the team’s ownership group.
When the collaboration was created, Dolphins’ majority owner Stephen Ross refused to say how much his new investors paid: “It is a private company and we will keep those things private but Emilio is a partner and Gloria is a partner.”
Michelle Williams Helped Bring The Sky To The WNBA
Singer Michelle Williams, who most famously was a member of Destiny’s Child, became a minority owner in the WNBA’s Chicago Sky before the team’s 2006 expansion season. As part of her initial investment, Williams became one of the public faces of the franchise’s ownership group.
Matthew Knowles, the father of Beyonce, also joined Williams as a minority owner in the team. Since entering the WNBA, the Sky have won one conference title but are still chasing their first championship.
Jennifer Lopez Was A Dolphins Minority Owner
Before being in a relationship with Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez was married to singer Marc Anthony. As part of building out her brand, Lopez and Anthony bought a minority share in the Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately, when the couple ultimately divorced, Lopez lost her ownership share, while Anthony did not. Since then, Lopez has been eyeing other ownership opportunities, even submitting a bid to buy the Mets that was ultimately rejected.
Jay-Z Sold His Piece Of The Nets For The Second Highest Price In NBA History
When Jay-Z decided to start his own sports representation agency, Roc Nation, it also meant he was forced to sell his minority ownership stake in the Brooklyn Nets. The rapper played a key role in helping re-brand the team after they moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
Jay-Z originally bought into the Nets in 2004, paying $1 million for a 1/15th ownership stake. His stake in the team was sold to former player Jason Kidd, who paid Jay-Z the second-largest sum for a piece of a team in NBA history.
David Letterman Owns His Own Racing Team
David Letterman has been a long-time racing fan and in 1996, bought a share in a friend’s racing team, which was then renamed Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The team has raced on and off in the IndyCar circuit since 2004 with varying degrees of success.
In 2004, the team won the Indy 500 for the first time with driver Buddy Rice. In 2020, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won its second Indy 500, this time with Takuma Sato behind the wheel.
Will Ferrell Is One Of The Owners Of LAFC
When the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) joined Major League Soccer, it had some serious star power in its ownership group. And one of those owners happened to be comedian and movie star, Will Ferrell.
As for how Ferrell came into the role, we’ll let him tell that story. “One of the members of the ownership group is a fellow dad and our kids go to the same school. And he sent me an email saying ‘Hey, I don’t know if this would be interesting to you. We’re forming this ownership group and I know you played soccer.’ And I was talking to my wife and I said ‘This would be fantastic.'”
Elton John Has An On-Again-Off-Again Ownership With Watford FC
Aside from performing in front of millions of adoring fans, there is nothing Elton John loves more than watching soccer. His love for the sport runs so deep that in 1976 he bought Watford FC.
The English soccer club has bounced back and forth between the English Premier League and the Championship. In a similar fashion, John has an on-again-off-again relationship with the club, first selling them in 1987 only to buy them again in 1997. He then sold his share one last time in 2002 and now holds a permanent role as the “honorary president.”
Drew Carey Is A Minority Owner Of The Seattle Sounders
The more Major League Soccer grows in the United States, the more celebrities have become interested in ownership groups of teams. In 2009, The Price is Right host Drew Carey bought a minority stake in MLS powerhouse Seattle Sounders.
Carey was first approached by the expansion team’s ownership group at a lunch meeting. Before saying yes, the comedian had one major condition: “we have a membership program like they do in Barcelona. They have about 160,000 members, and every four years the members get to vote on whether the president of the club gets to keep his job or not. That’s what we’re going to bring to Seattle.”
John Candy Owned A CFL Team
Known best in the United States for his big heart and perfect comedic timing, John Candy was also a huge football fan. His love for the sport was so great that in 1991 he joined the Toronto Argonauts’ ownership group.
One of Candy’s first big moves as an owner was to convince college-wide receiving standout Raghib Ismail to play for his team instead of entering the NFL. That same year Toronto won the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League’s version of the Super Bowl.
Russell Crowe Really Loves Rugby
Russell Crowe is one of the most respected actors of his generation. He also happens to be a massive rugby fan. Having grown up in New Zealand, he fell in love with the sport at a young age, and when he had enough money, he bought into it, becoming a co-owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs of the National Rugby League.
Crowe shares his ownership stake with James Packer. Although the club has generally underperformed over the course of its history, it will always hold a special place in Crowe’s heart.