Being a professional sports owner has never been more lucrative. Of all the things rich people can afford, a sports team might be the best investment. Fans can’t get enough and there is tons of money to be made. From expensive tickets to broadcasting rights to marquee events, owning a sports franchise is akin to printing money.
The athletes are raking in the dough, but to get in on the action as an owner you’re going to need a healthy bank account. You don’t need to be one of the richest Americans to buy a team, but it doesn’t hurt. Athletes might get paid millions, but the richest people in American sports are actually the owners. Here are the 15 richest sports owners in the U.S.
15. Ann Walton Kroenke
- Teams owned: Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets
- Net worth: $4.4 billion
Ann Walton Kroenke might not be a familiar face, but her surnames should ring a bell. She’s part of the Walton clan that owns Walmart, and she married a man who shows up later at No. 7 on our list. Though not the richest or most well know on this list, she does have one of the more unique resumes. A registered nurse who inherited a stake in the world’s largest retailer and also owns two major sports teams.
Next: Not using his law degree turned out to be the smart move.
14. Ted Lerner
Team owned: Washington Nationals
Net worth: $5 billion
Ted Lerner has a law degree from George Washington University, but he made his money in real estate. He’s so good at developing and selling property that he’s made billions, enough to buy the Washington Nationals. Since he and his family have taken over the team, it has turned into a perennial contender.
Next: An unbelievable life story for our next person on the list.
13. Shahid Khan
- Team owned: Jacksonville Jaguars
- Net worth: $5.3 billion
Shahid Khan is truly a self-made man. He came to the United States from Pakistan to attend college and had just $500 to his name. Now he’s a billionaire several times over thanks to his success in auto parts manufacturing. The Jacksonville Jaguars are far from the NFL spotlight and seem to on the verge of changing cities at a moment’s notice, but Khan remains a proud NFL owner.
Next: A secretive owner of a successful team.
12. Charles B. Johnson
- Team owned: San Francisco Giants
- Net worth: $5.5 billion
Charles B. Johnson is the leading man behind two profitable enterprises. The first is Franklin Resources, an international investment firm. The second, and probably more notable, is baseball’s San Francisco Giants. He is the largest stakeholder in the Giants, though he stays behind the scenes. Fans would love to catch a glimpse of one of the richest sports owners out there: He helped deliver World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
Next: The man made famous for owning “America’s Team.”
11. Jerry Jones
- Team owned: Dallas Cowboys
- Net worth: $5.6 billion
Jerry Jones made his fortune in oil and gas and bought the Dallas Cowboys, known as “America’s Team,” for $140 million. During Jones’ tenure, the team has won two championships and moved into a new stadium. Thanks to Jones’ stewardship and the NFL’s massive popularity, the Cowboys are worth a cool $4.2 billion these days. No matter what, Jones is going to remain outspoken and one of the richest sports owners in the U.S.
Next: A controversial business owner who has dipped his toe in the sports world.
10. Richard DeVos
- Team owned: Orlando Magic
- Net worth: $6.0 billion
You know (and likely detest) Richard DeVos’ daughter-in-law, Betsy DeVos. If you’ve ever been pressured into buying soap, or a piece of the action, from a persistent Amway salesperson, you probably don’t think much of Richard, either. The not-a-pyramid-scheme company he founded earned him enough money to buy the NBA’s Orlando Magic, a team valued at $950 million.
Next: The owner of one of the most successful teams out there.
9. Robert Kraft
- Teams owned: New England Patriots, New England Revolution
- Net worth: $6.2 billion
Robert Kraft might be one of the most recognizable people on this list. After all, he’s been along for the ride as the New England Patriots win championship after championship. His Kraft Group also owns the New England Revolution, but it’s the Patriots and their $3.7 billion value that makes Kraft one of the richest people in sports.
Next: A mover and shaker in the Motor City.
8. Marian Ilitch
- Teams owned: Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers
- Net worth: $6.4 billion
Little Caesars might be one of the worst pizza chains out there, but Marian Ilitch isn’t complaining. She and her deceased husband, Mike Ilitch, built it from a small neighborhood restaurant to an international brand. The Detroit-area natives used part of their fortune to buy MLB’s Detroit Tigers and the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Ilitch’s keen business mind has helped her earn scores of accolades over the years.
Next: Sports ownership plus real estate make this next person rich.
7. Stan Kroenke
- Team owned: Los Angeles Rams
- Net worth: $7.8 billion
It wasn’t until recently the Los Angeles Rams jumped out of the rut of mediocrity. However, the recent lack of success hasn’t hurt Stan Kroenke’s bottom line. He’s one of the richest sports owners out there (he also owns English soccer team Arsenal), and he could keep moving up the list. Kroenke is developing l property in Los Angeles to house the Rams’ new stadium, which could one day host World Cup games. The only question we have is, couldn’t a man worth this much afford a better head of hair?
Next: Love him or loathe him, he’s still one of the richest sports owners.
6. Daniel Gilbert
- Team owned: Cleveland Cavaliers
- Net worth: $8.8 billion
Dan Gilbert amassed his fortune with his company, Quicken Loans. The company’s business practices are questionable and Gilbert is one of the most hated sports owners ever, but there’s no denying he’s one of the richest people in American sports. Since taking over the team in 2005, he’s presided over a fourfold increase in the team’s value to $1.2 billion.
Next: Real estate has been very kind to our next sports team owner.
5. Stephen Ross
- Team owned: Miami Dolphins
- Net worth: $10.2 billion
Stephen Ross made his money in real estate as the CEO and founder of Related Companies. The company is responsible for some massive real estate projects around the world, including New York’s Hudson Yards. He’s used some of his fortune to get in on the NFL action. Starting as a 50% owner of the Miami Dolphins in 2008, he now owns 95% of the team, which is valued at $2.38 billion.
Next: Sports team ownership is the heart of soul of our next person’s business empire.
4. Philip Anschutz
- Teams owned: Los Angeles Kings, LA Galaxy
- Net worth: $10.9 billion
Under the Anschutz Entertainment Group banner, Philip Anschutz has a hand in several sports enterprises. AEG owns the Los Angeles Kings and soccer’s LA Galaxy outright, plus it has a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only that, but his company owns a slew of arenas and stadiums throughout the country. Even if one of his teams goes into a nosedive, Anschutz is poised to still be one of the richest sports owners in the United States.
Next: Our next owner is cruising toward the top of the pile.
3. Micky Arison
- Team owned: Miami Heat
- Net worth: $11.9 billion
Your vacation might have helped put Micky Arison this high on the list. He was the longtime CEO of Carnival Cruises, which is how he made his fortune. He stepped down in 2013, and now he focuses on running the NBA’s Miami Heat, which is valued at $1.35 billion.
Next: The tech industry has been kind to final two owners on our list.
2. Paul Allen
- Teams owned: Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Seahawks
- Net worth: $24.4 billion
The co-founder of Microsoft along with Bill Gates, Paul Allen left the company early on but still cashed in. With the money he earned from selling Microsoft stock he started Vulcan Capital, through which he owns the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Given the success of both leagues, Allen is well suited to remain among the richest sports owners for a long time.
Next: Another techie is tops on our list.
1. Steve Ballmer
- Team owned: Los Angeles Clippers
- Net worth: $35.8 billion
The longtime Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer stepped down from that role in 2014 and bought the Clippers for $2 billion the same year. The franchise is worth about the same amount of money today, but Ballmer remains the richest sports owner out there. There could be more to come, too. The Clippers unveiled new technology to help bring fans closer to the game. Would you expect anything less from a man who made billions from the tech boom?
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