World's Wealthiest Sports Team Owners
Mega yachts, private planes and shiny Lamborghinis are all common playthings for the world's wealthiest folks.
But for a certain breed of billionaire, the one whose limousine TV is glued to ESPN, there's no better rich man's toy than your very own sports team.
From low-key honchos to some of sports' biggest non-athlete egomaniacs, we've rounded up the world's 15 wealthiest team owners, per Forbes, and delved into their history and ownership style.
#15: Jerry Jones (Tie)
Team: Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
Net worth: $5.6 billion
It didn't take a genius to fire coach Tom Landry, who by 1989 was well past his expiration date (sorry, old-school Cowboy fans). Nor did it necessitate a mastermind to draft Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. But in the 1990s, Jerry Jones oversaw and rightly took credit for the Cowboys' return to dominance with three Lombardi trophies.
An offensive lineman and co-captain of his University of Arkansas 1964 national championship team (read: football know-it-all), Jones went on to make a small fortune in the insurance business, a chain of pizza parlors (reportedly financed by Jimmy Hoffa's Teamsters union), and oil and gas mining.
He bought the Cowboys in 1989, asserted himself as the team's general manager and, win or lose, ever since has been despised by fans who wish he'd stop playing "puppet master" with coaches and let them do their job.
OK, maybe not with Dave Campo, but you get the picture.
#15: Charles Johnson (Tie)
Team: San Francisco Giants (MLB)
Net worth: $5.6 billion
Charles Johnson holds a 26 percent stake in the San Francisco Giants as a co-owner.
This fact was unknown to most casual fans until the Franklin Templeton Investments billionaire made headlines for donating to the 2018 Mississippi political campaign of controversial Rep. Cindy-Hyde Smith (R).
In a liberal stronghold like San Francisco, that's a giant no-no. But fans appear to have gotten over it quickly. They are more preoccupied with the ballclub's roster question marks heading into spring training.
#14: Robert Kraft
Teams: New England Patriots (NFL), New England Revolution (MLS)
Net worth: $6.2 billion
Yes, his name is Kraft. No, he did not make his fortune peddling Velveeta cheese. Prior to torturing every non-Patriots fan with one New England Super Bowl appearance after another, Kraft earned his riches in the cardboard-box business as head of the Rand-Whitney Group.
A passionate Patriots fan since their 1960's AFL days, Kraft purchased the team in 1994 for $172 million, a then-record sale price for an NFL franchise. Per Forbes, today, the Patriots are valued at an estimated $3.8 billion — second only in worth to the Cowboys ($5 billion).
Do fans like Kraft? If your team won five Super Bowls in 15 years, wouldn't you?
#13: Dan Gilbert
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Net worth: $6.3 billion
The Cleveland Cavaliers' majority owner, Dan Gilbert made his dough in the mortgage business (he's the founder of Quicken Loans), then forever made his name an NBA history footnote by authoring "The Letter," which called out LeBron James for his 2010 departure to the Miami Heat and "cowardly betrayal" of the Cavs.
Four years later, Gilbert and "The King" kissed, made up and, in 2016, at long last delivered a championship to title-starved Cleveland.
LeBron has gone Hollywood, and the Cavaliers now dwell in the depths of the Eastern Conference, yet Gilbert keeps cash flowing thanks to ownership of not only the Cavs, but a minor league hockey squad, an Arena Football League team, and a chain of hotel/casinos.
#12: Shahid Khan
Teams: Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL), Fulham FC (Premier League/EFL)
Net worth: $7.2 billion
A self-made Pakistani-American billionaire, Shahid Khan amassed his fortune in the auto parts business.
In 2011, Khan bought the Jacksonville Jaguars for an estimated $760 million and can be spotted pacing the sideline thanks to his trademark handlebar mustache — earning him the nickname "The Tash with the Cash."
Following a 2017 season that saw the Jaguars advance to within one game of the Super Bowl, the team fell miserably flat in 2018, forcing Khan to make big personnel and contract decisions this coming offseason.
Across the pond in London, Khan also has his hands full with Fulham FC, perennial Premier League cellar dweller.
#11: Stephen Ross
Team: Miami Dolphins (NFL)
Net worth: $7.6 billion
Stephen Ross made beaucoup bucks in real estate development, so it's no surprise he's the principal owner of the Dolphins and the team's Hard Rock Stadium. With Miami mired in mediocrity for more than a decade, Ross is unpopular with fans, to put it mildly.
In March 2018, he didn't win any converts after telling the New York Daily News, "Miami is a great city. It's not a great sports town."
Someone want to teach Ross the "You're the best fans in football!" cliché?
#10: Stan Kroenke
Teams: Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), Colorado Mammoth (National Lacrosse League), Arsenal FC (Premier League)
Net worth: $8.3 billion
Stan Kroenke was lucky to escape St. Louis in 2016 before a mob of furious Rams fans could set fire to his toupee. He moved the franchise to Los Angeles, where he's building the team a new $5 billion stadium, which is set to open in 2020.
Juggling ownership of six pro clubs plus an eSports team, the real estate and sports mogul is so hands off with each organization's personnel decisions and day-to-day operations he's garnered the nickname "Silent Stan."
Kroenke is loathed by fans, particularly supporters of his English soccer club Arsenal, who charge the tycoon hasn't spent a penny to improve the team and, in fact, uses the club coffers as his personal piggy bank.
In Kroenke's defense, quality hairpieces don't come cheap.
#9: Mikhail Prokhorov
Team: Brooklyn Nets (NBA)
Net worth: $9.6 billion
The Russian mining oligarch's 51 percent stake in the hapless Nets makes him the NBA's only non-North American owner. He's also one of the league's most controversial, grabbing headlines for scandals involving Russian prostitutes, rigged Russian elections and Russian sports doping.
The man fits the oligarch stereotype to a T, and he's got a sense of humor about it — even willing to appear in a "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" segment titled "How to be a Russian Oligarch."
#8: Micky Arison
Team: Miami Heat (NBA)
Net worth: $9.7 billion
When your franchise wins three championships in 12 seasons, fans are willing to forgive a lot, except maybe those pink "Sunset Vice" jerseys unveiled in December.
Much of Miami's past winning springs from Micky Arison hiring sharp basketball minds (Pat Riley), opening his checkbook for top-tier players (Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Chris Bosh), then sitting back and not pulling a Mark Cuban act.
Arison raked in his billions as chairman of the Carnival Corp. cruise ship empire. And though the last few Heat seasons have not been a sail on "The Love Boat," fans hope his bank account will right the ship.
#7: Roman Abramovich
Team: Chelsea FC (Premier League)
Net worth: $10.8 billion
This list's second Russian oligarch is Roman Abramovich — oil baron, Putin pal, part-time politician and Israel's richest man.
Abramovich's controversies (allegations of bribery, loan fraud, anti-trust violations, etc.) are nearly as legendary as his soccer club, Chelsea, which he bought in 2003 and British tabloids promptly nicknamed "Chelski."
A football fanatic, he attends most "Blues" matches and, by all accounts, maintains a firm grip on the club's direction. Chelsea supporters love Abramovich's big-spending ways, while fans of competing Premier League teams consider him the sinister Russian incarnation of George Steinbrenner, "buying" five titles since taking over Chelsea.
#6: Hasso Plattner
Team: San Jose Sharks (NHL)
Net worth: $12.7 billion
Hasso Plattner shies from public appearances, but players and coaches report the mega-rich man is an enthusiastic owner who's all-in to win.
A lifelong hockey fan, the German software tycoon acquired majority ownership of the San Jose Sharks in 2013, and just three years later, the club found itself in the Stanley Cup Final — ultimately losing to the Penguins.
In 2018, Plattner made a whale of an investment in a blockbuster trade that brought defenseman Erik Karlsson to San Jose in hopes he'll help hoist the Cup come June.
#5: Philip Anschutz
Teams: Los Angeles Kings (NHL), Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Net worth: $13 billion
Investments in oil, real estate, railroads, stocks, telecom and entertainment have made Philip Anschutz absurdly wealthy. His Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) not only owns pro hockey and soccer teams, but also a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.
Further sweetening the pot, AEG owns and/or operates a slew of sports arenas, including L.A.'s Staples Center.
While Anschutz is media shy, insiders claim he's involved with the Kings' and Galaxy's major personnel moves.
Fans may view him as Uncle Scrooge McDuck behind the curtain, but they weren't complaining when the Kings managed to win the Stanley Cup, not once (2012), but twice (2014) in three seasons.
#4: Estate of Paul Allen (Jody Allen)
Teams: Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Portland Trail Blazers (NBA)
Net worth: $21.7 billion
Before Paul Allen's passing in October 2018, the Microsoft billionaire was among pro sports' most respected owners.
Sure, the Portland Trail Blazers haven't won a title since the original "Star Wars" was released. But the Seahawks brought home the Lombardi Trophy in 2013. And win or lose, fans appreciated Allen's penchant for opening the purse strings to acquire top-notch talent.
The executor of Allen's estate, and current owner of both teams, is his sister, Jody Allen. Many "Rip City" denizens worry she'll sell the Blazers, especially with the team's Moda Center arena lease expiring in 2025 — freeing a new owner to relocate the team.
For now, she's maintaining the status quo in both Portland and Seattle, and taking a hands-off approach with day-to-day operations.
#3: Dietrich Mateschitz
Teams: New York Red Bulls (MLS), Red Bull Racing (Formula One), Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda (Formula One)
Net worth: $23 billion
When you guzzle a can of battery acid Red Bull, you're helping fund this Austrian billionaire's passion for Formula One racing.
After Dietrich Mateschitz co-founded the energy drink company in the late 1980s, sales soon took off, and Red Bull embarked on a massive, sports-centric marketing campaign, sponsoring everyone and everything from pro athletes and extreme-sports stars to high-dive competitions and aerial stunt shows.
The crown jewel of Mateschitz's sports empire is his multiple title-winning F1 Red Bull Racing team, led by driver Max Verstappen.
On the downside, his New York Red Bulls have failed to capture a title in their 23 Major League Soccer seasons.
#2: Steve Ballmer
Team: Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
Net worth: $38.4 billion
Following the infamous Donald Sterling scandal of 2014, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers for a whopping $2 billion, the second-highest price ever paid for a North American sports team (tops is the $2.15 billion deal for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012).
The antithesis of the dour, despised Sterling, Ballmer is an enthusiastic cheerleader for his Clips as well as a hit with fans. A hands-on owner, Ballmer has overseen the somewhat unpopular trade exits of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, opting to rebuild and go younger.
So far, the 2018-19 season has proved decent, with the Clipper faithful hoping Ballmer is busting his courtside dance moves come the playoffs.
#1: Mukesh Ambani
Team: Mumbai Indians (Indian Premier League)
Net worth: $40.1 billion
Did you guess the world's wealthiest sports team owner was the proud papa of a pro cricket team based in Mumbai, India? Neither did we.
Ambani, the world's 19th richest person, heads petroleum and telecom behemoth Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company.
In 2008, he scrounged some pocket change ($100 million) to purchase the Indians, who compete in the eight-team Indian Premier League and, as of 2018, have won the title three times.