The Richest Owners In Sports Aren’t Selling Anytime Soon
Owning a professional sports franchise is an incredibly lucrative thing to do. Rules like revenue sharing often make it nearly impossible to own a team and lose money. And most franchises make money hand over foot.
But just because you are incredibly wealthy, doesn’t necessarily mean you get to purchase a franchise just because you want to. They tend to be passed down through generations and just don’t go up for sale very often. It commonly takes an incredibly rich individual to snap one up. Here are the sporting world’s richest owners.
Steve Bisciotti – $4.5 Billion – Baltimore Ravens
Steve Bisciotti grew up in Philadelphia and started a staffing company called Aerotek. Aerotek eventually grew into a larger company called the Allegis Group and Bisciotti became a very rich man.
The executive then purchased the Ravens from Art Modell in 2000. Bisciotti and the Ravens have had significant success since then. Under Bisciotti, Baltimore has been one of the model franchises of the NFL. The team took home Super Bowl wins in 2001 and 2013.
Henry Samueli – $4.6 Billion – Anaheim Ducks
Henry Samueli was born to Holocaust survivors and grew up in Los Angeles California. After attending college at UCLA, the entrepreneur started a company called Broadcom which makes products for the wireless and broadband communication industry.
His business success allowed Samueli to purchase the Anaheim Ducks from the Walt Disney Company in 2005. It didn’t take long for the mogul to put his mark on the franchise as the Ducks won the Stanley Cup Championship in 2007. Anaheim was the first team from California to ever win an NHL title.
Terry Pegula – $4.9 Billion – Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres
Terry Pegula and his wife Kim amassed their fortune in a number of ways, but most prominently through their natural gas company, East Resources. The couple also has investments in real estate and entertainment.
When the Pegula’s won the bid for the Buffalo Bills in 2014 they became folk heroes in the area as there was fear that the team could be relocated to Toronto. The duo are hoping to now bring pro sports titles to the long-suffering fans of Western New York.
Charles B. Johnson – $4.9 Billion – San Francisco Giants
Charles B. Johnson grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, attended Yale and amassed his fortune by co-founding a mutual fund company called Franklin Resources with his brother Rupert in 1947.
The money made in business allowed Johnson to purchase 25% of the San Francisco Giants. He is a hands-off owner who allows most moves to be made by ownership group head Larry Baer. The partnership has been wildly successful as the Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Tilman Fertitta – $4.9 Billion – Houston Rockets
Tilman Fertitta’s career of hustling began in his hometown of Galveston, Texas where he would peel shrimp at his father’s restaurant. After college at the University in Houston, he purchased restaurants, hotels and eventually casinos.
The money made in these ventures allowed Fertitta to purchase the NBA’s Houston Rockets in 2017 from Leslie Alexander. In the few years he’s owned the team, Fertitta has regularly been in the spotlight. The team, led by James Harden and Russell Westbrook has yet to win a title but has been one of the league’s top squads.
Mark Lerner – $5.1 Billion – Washington Nationals
Ted Lerner is the owner of Lerner Enterprises, a real estate company that owns significant amounts of land in the Washington DC area as well as New York’s Chelsea Piers. With Ted being 94-years-old, he has stepped down from his role and his son Mark handles much of the business.
This business includes the Washington Nationals franchise which the family purchased in 2006. The Lerner’s have continuously made investments into the team and have been more than willing to sign top free agents. This helped the Nats to their first World Series title in 2019.
James Dolan – $5.3 Billion – New York Knicks, New York Rangers
James Dolan may not only be one of the richest owners in professional sports, but he may also be the most hated. The owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers inherited Cablevision from his Father.
Dolan has often been accused of meddling in the Knicks management and making the team less attractive to free agents. He’s also made a number of questionable personnel decisions. Oddly, he largely stays out of the Rangers business and the team is thought to be one of the better-run organizations in the NHL.
Arthur Blank – $5.6 Billion – Atlanta Falcons
Arthur Blank grew up in New York City and attended Babson College in Massachusetts. After a number of years as an accountant, Blank founded Home Depot in 1978. The success of his big box hardware stores made him a billionaire.
Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and soon had to weather the storm of the Michael Vick dogfighting controversy. The Falcons have been largely successful with Blank at the helm, nearly taking home the Super Bowl in 2016.
Tom Gores – $5.6 Billion – Detroit Pistons
Tom Gores was born in Nazareth, Israel and moved to the Flint, Michigan area when he was a child. In his 20s, Gores started a company called Platinum Equity and began to purchase companies, eventually becoming a billionaire.
Gores is one of the more recent owners on this list as he only became the majority owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons in 2015. The billionaire will attempt to return the team to its former glory.
Robert Pera – $6.4 Billion – Memphis Grizzlies
Robert Pera stands as a bit of an outlier on this list. He is not only one of the youngest billionaires in the world, but he is also among the youngest owners in major professional sports.
Pera purchased the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012 when he was only 34 years old. The team has had its ups and downs since Pera took over going from a 50 win team to a rebuilding one. With the addition of Ja Morant in 2019, the squad again looks to be on an upswing.
Dan Gilbert – $6.5 Billion – Cleveland Cavaliers
Dan Gilbert made his fortune by creating the lending service, Quicken Loans. The businessman purchased the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005 and made headlines with a letter he wrote to superstar LeBron James when the superstar took his talents to South Beach.
The relationship between the two men improved when James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014. The team went on to make 3 Finals appearances and won the title in 2016. When James left again in 2018, Gilbert was much more gracious.
Robert Kraft – $6.9 Billion – New England Patriots
Robert Kraft is among the sports world’s 3 or 4 best-known owners. After attending and playing football for Columbia University, he made his fortune in paper goods and products. In 1994, Kraft purchased the Patriots for a then-record $172 million.
Kraft’s decision to bring Bill Belichick in as his head coach has contributed to the Patriots becoming a dynasty. Under the billionaire’s tenure the Patriots have taken home a total of 6 Super Bowl Championships.
Stephen Ross – $7.6 Billion – Miami Dolphins
Stephen Ross, a native of Detroit, Michigan, is one of the more prominent real estate developers in the United States. He is best known for projects like New York’s Hudson Yards. He became the sole owner of the Miami Dolphins in 2009.
The Dolphins are one of the more legendary NFL fan bases and a lot is expected of the team. It’s fair to say that the squad has been largely disappointing under Ross. The team looks to again rebuild in 2020.
Shahid Khan – $7.8 Billion – Jacksonville Jaguars
Shahid Khan, who came to the United States from Pakistan when he was 16 years old, has an incredible success story. Khan went from washing dishes and sleeping at the YMCA to making billions through his bumper supply business.
After achieving the American Dream, Kahn purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010. The long downtrodden team has had some success since the billionaire has taken over including an out of nowhere trip to the AFC Championship game in 2017.
Micky Arison – $8.1 Billion – Miami Heat
Micky Arison, who was born in Tev Aviv, Israel, inherited Carnival Cruise Lines from his father Ted. The business has only continued to grow, making Arison very wealthy. The businessman used part of his fortune to buy the Miami Heat in 1995.
Arison’s first act as owner was to hire Pat Riley to run the organization. Riley has been with the team as long as Arison and the team has been incredibly successful. The Heat has taken home NBA titles in 2006, 2012 and 2013.
Jerry Jones – $8.6 Billion – Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas and was a member of the school’s 1964 Championship football team. Following school, he found his way into oil exploration and made his fortune.
Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys franchise in 1989 and the league has never quite been the same. Sometimes cast as a hero, often cast as a villain, Jones brings an awful lot of drama to the NFL as the owner of one of the NFL’s most prominent franchises.
Stan Kroenke – $9.7 Billion – LA Rams, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets
Stan Kroenke made his vast fortune in real estate as he focused on building shopping plazas and apartment complexes. He also has a passion for owning sports franchises as he currently oversees the LA Rams, Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets.
The mogul who oversaw the Rams move from St.Louis to Los Angeles doesn’t just focus on American sports, either. In 2011, Kroenke was able to purchase a controlling share in the legendary European soccer team Arsenal.
Philip Anschutz – $11.5 Billion – LA Kings, LA Lakers
Philip Anschutz, who made his fortune in the oil business is one of the more controversial figures on the list. The businessman has been accused of pushing pseudoscience and promoting climate change denial.
Anschutz owns the Kings in their entirety and currently owns 1/3 of the Lakers. Both teams have been very impressive under his stewardship, Now with LeBron James, the NBA team is entering another period of championship contention. The Kings took home the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.
David Tepper – $12 Billion – Carolina Panthers
David Tepper is another member of the new guard of billionaire owners. Even if you are fantastically wealthy, it’s not easy to buy an NFL football team as they rarely go up for sale. Hedge fund manager Tepper jumped at the chance to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018.
And he’s radically made changes since owning the team. Tepper reached into the college ranks to hire Matt Rhule from Baylor and wunderkind offensive coordinator Joe Brady from LSU. He’s also pledged to build a league-leading analytics staff.
Steve Ballmer – $51 Billion – LA Clippers
For almost their entire history, the Clippers were a bit of a joke. Not only was the team very unsuccessful record-wise, but former owner Donald Sterling sold the team in disgrace after he was recorded making off-color comments.
The team has had dramatically different results under super billionaire Ballmer. The Clippers now stand toe to toe with the crosstown Lakers and pulled off a major coup during the summer of 2019 when they were able to acquire both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.