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It takes a freaky level of wealth to own a US sports franchise. The sort of riches required qualify only a small group to own an elite American sports team. The biggest Powerball lottery jackpot was $1.5 billion, and to give some context, there are plenty of franchise owners with multiple times that amount to their name.
This article looks at the 10 richest US sports franchise owners. These are some of the most powerful people in the sports world, people who dish out those eyebrow-raising contracts, people who invest in new arenas and aim to alter the future of an entire sports franchise, earning the adulation of a city.
Steve Ballmer – $41.2 billion
The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer has been hoping to turn the franchise around in recent years. While the salary cap limits the impact of his wealth, it will certainly make it easier to stump up luxury tax payments down the line.
Ballmer’s wealth came from his time with Microsoft, which has earned him a spot among the 20th richest people on the planet.
He is far and away the wealthiest owner of an American sports franchise, his over $40 billion coming in at three times as much as the second placed person on the list, Hasso Plattner.
Hasso Plattner – $13.5 billion
Plattner owns the San Jose Sharks, who are far from the most well-known team on this list. The 76-year-old German born billionaire is the CEO of SAP, and loves his golf as much as his ice hockey, though it’s the NHL where his investment lies.
While a long way behind Ballmer’s mark, Plattner slots in comfortably in second place on this list with a whopping $13.5 billion to his name. The Sharks should never be short of money come free agency.
David Tepper – $11.6 billion
Owner of the Carolina Panthers, who recently cut ties with former MVP Cam Newton, David Tepper is a hedge-fund manager. He also owns an unnamed Charlotte-based MLS franchise, and was the third-highest earning hedge-fund manager in the world in 2018.
Tepper, as his gaudy $11.6 billion figure suggests, has been unafraid to splash the cash, and did just that to land Charlotte an MLS franchise. His $25 million in fees is believed to be a league record.
Philip Anschutz – $10.9 billion
A controversial and deeply conservative figure, Philip Anschutz owns businesses across a wide range of sectors. His sporting interests are the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Kings, though he has a minor investment in the Lakers, too.
Anschutz was ranked as the 19th-richest person in the US by Forbes just last year.
Joseph Tsai – $10.8 billion
Slotting into this list just behind Anschutz is Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai, who took over a controlling stake from Mikhail Prokhorov last year. Tsai had originally purchased 49% of the franchise in October 2017, and he triggered an option to buy the remaining stake two years later.
He has investments in various other sports teams, but it’s obvious that the Nets are his priority. Tsai took over at a good time, with Brooklyn trending upwards and picking up superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the summer of 2019.
Micky Arison – $8.9 billion
Micky Arison’s wealth came from the cruise industry, specifically Carnival Corporation. He was CEO of the company from 1979 until 2013.
Arison owns the Miami Heat, one of the premier names in US sports. The Heat have won three titles since Arison took over in 1995, and have been a leading destination for free agents including LeBron James and Jimmy Butler.
Stan Kroenke – $8.7 billion
Stan Kroenke, who owns Arsenal Football Club, collects sports teams like Pokemon cards. The Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Rams are all in his US sports portfolio.
A combination of sports investment and real estate has seen Kroenke accumulate almost $9 billion. Not always popular, and with a reputation for penny pinching, Kroenke’s wealth hasn’t equated to success for his teams, but the financial side has been far more positive.
Stephen Ross – $7.6 billion
Like many US sports owners, Stephen Ross built his billions through real estate. He turned his hand to sport with the Miami Dolphins and is the owner of their iconic Hard Rock Stadium.
Ross was a donator to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and held a fundraiser for Donald Trump.
Robert Pera – $6.9 billion
When he was 36 years old, Robert Pera was a billionaire. Into his forties, and he owns the Memphis Grizzlies, an up and coming NBA team with one of the most exciting rookies in recent memory in Ja Morant.
Pera founded Ubiquiti Networks, and took the company public in 2011, having worked at Apple until 2005.
Jerry Jones – $6.8 billion
One of the most famous owners in sports, Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys are often among the most valuable sports franchises on the planet, outranking Real Madrid, Manchester United and the Yankees on occasion.
Jones takes on the president and general manager roles with the Cowboys, putting him at the front of everything the organisation do.