Different Paths to Owning a Professional Sports Team

I’m a fairly competitive person so I love sports. The last week or so was big for football – both college and professional. With that in mind, I thought I would comment on CNN.com story, which partnered with Mental Floss, story about different owners of major sporting teams in the US. It is called How to be a billionaire sports team owner.

Although there is no script, there are a couple of loose rules

  1. Be Young
  2. Find a Neglected Market

Here are a few excerpts:

1. Rich DeVos, Orlando Magic (NBA)

In 1959, DeVos and high school friend Jay Van Andel started selling all-purpose cleaner. Their business grew to become Amway, which now brings in $6 billion each year under the ominous-sounding Alticor name.Whether you see Amway as an empowering direct sales company or a something resembling a cult, it sure was good to DeVos.Forbes estimates his wealth at $3.5 billion, making the paltry $85 million he spent on the Magic in 1991 a minor investment.

2. Robert L. Johnson, Charlotte Bobcats (NBA)

Lower on my list of dream jobs is running a cable network that caters to urban youth.So I’m all kinds of envious of Robert L., who founded BET and sold it to Viacom for $3 billion in 2001.His fortune was depleted by an expensive divorce, but Johnson’s estimated net worth is still $1.1 billion.His resume is full of firsts  BET was the first African-American owned company traded on the NYSE. He was the first African-American billionaire in the U.S. And, in 2002,
he became the first African-American majority owner of a professional
sports franchise.

5. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

Jerry Jones
built an oil empire in the early 1970s, striking gas in the first
thirteen wells he drilled. His father had given him a head start; Pat
Jones sold the Modern Security Life Insurance Company for millions.An undersized guard, Jones was captain of the 1965 Cotton Bowl-winning Arkansas Razorbacks. Future Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was a teammate, and Johnson’s successor, Barry Switzer, was a Razorbacks assistant. Jones bought the Cowboys for an estimated $140 million in 1989. He immediately made waves by firing Tom Landry — the only coach in
Cowboys history — and replacing him with his college buddy (the
aforementioned Jimmy Johnson, who was coaching the University of Miami).After a rocky 1-15 start in 1989, the Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Mental Floss: A brief history of stadium naming rights

8. Daniel Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)

$5,000 he’d earned delivering pizzas — and after a stint as a TV
reporter — the future Cavs owner started a small mortgage company
called Rock Financial in 1985. In 1999, the company was bought by Intuit for $532 million. Three years later, Gilbert bought it back for $64 mil, renaming the company Quicken Loans. He purchased the Cavaliers for $375 mil in 2005. He also owns Fathead, which makes wall decals and tiresome ads. On the side, Gilbert is working to beat Michigan’s steroid-free bench-pressing record.

9. Stephen Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens (NFL)

At 48, Stephen Bisciotti is one of the NFL’s youngest owners. He made his money in staffing — specifically, finding talented engineers for the aerospace industry. With Jim Davis, Bisciotti founded Aerotek in 1983 (he was 23). Their staffing company, now known as the Allegis Group, had revenues of $4.4 billion in 2005. Bisciotti bought 49 percent of the Ravens in 2000, and purchased the rest from Art Modell in 2004.


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