Famous Sports Fans Who Invested in Their Own Teams

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Wikimedia

We all have hidden fantasies about what we would do if we had millions, or even billions, of dollars. If your daydreams are fueled by a love of professional sports, then get ready to live vicariously through these super-rich sports investors. Here you'll find celebrities who you had no idea owned sports teams as well as some of the wealthiest businessmen to invest in their favorite games. As you'll soon discover, sports ownership is not a bad way to go when looking to invest.

David Letterman

From 1993- 2015, David Letterman was the host of the aptly named late-night talk show, The Late Show With David Letterman. Having hosted over 6,000 episodes over the course of his career, Letterman eventually surpassed his mentor Johnny Carson and currently holds the record as the longest-running late-night talk show host in American TV history.

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Photo Courtesy: Worldwide Pants/IMDB

Little do many of his fans know that the millionaire funny man is also a huge fan of Indy car racing. In 1996, he joined Indianapolis 500 Winner Bobby Rahal and businessman Michael Lanigan as the co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Bill Murray

While comedic legend Bill Murray is known for his roles in films like Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, he's also a huge baseball fan. An avid Chicago Cubs supporter in his own right, Murray has also invested in and brought his humor to a number of minor league teams.

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Photo Courtesy: Worldwide Pants/IMDB

He appears on the St. Paul Saint's owner's page under the lighthearted title of "team psychologist" with duties including "morale-boosting and train spotting." He's also a co-owner and the official "director of fun" of the Charleston RiverDogs, the New York Yankees’ Class A team in the South Atlantic League.

Drew Carey

Over the years, Drew Carey has become a man of many titles. He began his career as a stand-up comic, became the lead actor in The Drew Carey Show from 1995-2004 and has hosted hit shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Price Is Right.

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Photo Courtesy: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Little do many fans know that the comic/actor/host/producer is also an avid soccer fan. After falling in love with the game in 2003, Carey went on to become the owner of the Seattle Sounders FC, and he also serves as the chairman of the club's member association.

Stan Kroenke

If there's one guy who knows how to make money, it's billionaire Stan Kroenke, husband of fellow billionaire and Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke. According to Forbes, Kroenke is currently worth an estimated $9.7 billion, thanks in part to his investments in various sports teams.

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Photo Courtesy: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Owner of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, Kroenke pretty much owns one of everything when it comes to sports teams. His holdings include the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche team, the Los Angeles Rams, and even a National Lacrosse League team called the Colorado Mammoth.

Jeanie Buss

While some may think of sports as a male-dominated industry, Jeanie Buss continues to take names and shatter stereotypes. Daughter of the late Jerry Buss, Jeanie is currently the controlling owner and president of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers.

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Photo Courtesy: Jeanie Buss/Twitter

After starting out as the manager of a professional tennis team at just 19-years-old, she also owned the Los Angeles Blades, a professional Los Angeles roller hockey team, from 1993 to 1997. Currently, she's also helping empower women in the world of sports as the owner of Women Of Wrestling (WOW).

Hal Steinbrenner

When legendary Yankee's owner George "The Boss" Steinbrenner passed away in 2010, the iconic baseball team was inherited by his sons Harold "Hal" Steinbrenner and his brother Hank. Hal has largely taken the reins and currently serves as the principal owner, co-chairman and managing general partner of the Yankees.

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Photo Courtesy: Bryan Hoch/Twitter

Unlike his father, who was known for his legendary temper, Hal is more the quiet, thoughtful type. Nonetheless, he's currently one of the richest MLB team owners in the world, with a rumored net worth of $1.1 billion.

Tim McGraw

Whether you're a fan of country music or not, you likely know exactly who Tim McGraw is. The husband of fellow country music legend Faith Hill, McGraw has also had considerable luck as an actor. Having starred in movies such as The Blind Side and Friday Night Lights, it may come as no surprise that he's also a football fan.

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Photo Courtesy: Tim Mcgraw/Twitter

Though he enjoys an estimated net worth of around $85 million, McGraw has yet to sink his teeth into major league investments. He did, however, purchased a minority interest in the short-lived Nashville Kats arena football franchise from 2005 to 2007.

Jeffrey Lurie

How does a former college professor transform into a sports team owner with a net worth of $2.7 billion? Ask Jeffery Lurie, the former professor of social policy turned two-time Oscar-winning producer and owner of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.

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Photo Courtesy: Brandon Lee Gowton/Twitter

After taking out a massive $185 million loan in 1994, Lurie purchased the Eagles and was able to lead them to their first Super Bowl championship. Lurie is also the founder of his own production company, Chestnut Hill Productions, and he’s a huge advocate for autism awareness.

Gene Simmons

You probably know him as the rock star with the world's craziest tongue, but it turns out that KISS band member Gene Simmons is always up for a good game of football. Unfortunately for Simmons and other L.A. based fans, there wasn't much football to be found in Los Angeles back in 2013.

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Photo Courtesy: Gene Simmons/Twitter

That's why Simmons and his fellow bandmates founded the LA KISS Arena Football team, which lasted just three seasons before folding. Simmons later admitted that the founding of the team was an attempted ploy to bring the NFL back to the area.

Shaquille O'Neal

While an estimated 60% of NBA players go broke within 5 years of retiring, Shaquille O'Neal definitely isn't in danger of falling into that statistic. The former professional basketball star currently enjoys an estimated net worth of $400 million. His money-making avenues come from jobs as a sports analyst, promotional deals, franchise ownerships, and savvy investments.

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Photo Courtesy: Shaq/Twitter

One such investment is a minority share in the Sacramento Kings. In 2018, it was also announced he'd become the general manager of the Sacramento Kings’ first esports team.

Arthur Blank

We could all take a lesson from Arthur Blank when it comes to turning a bad situation into an opportunity. When Blank and his friend Bernie Marcus got fired from a regional hardware store, they decided to open up a store of their own. It was called Home Depot, and Blank is now worth $5.4 Billion.

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Photo Courtesy: Atlanta Falcons/Twitter

In 2002, Blank bought the NFL's Atlanta Falcons for a paltry $545 million, an investment that's grown to be worth billions in itself. He also owns the Major League Soccer team Atlanta United FC, which officially launched in 2017.

Philip Anschutz

You name it, Phillip Anschutz has probably made money from it. Anschutz’s $11.5 billion fortune is the result of his work in the oil, telecom, real estate, entertainment and even railroad industries. The guy even owns Coachella as well as 100 arenas and concert venues around the world.

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Photo Courtesy: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Of course it makes sense that he'd have a few sports teams on his resume. Not only is he the current owner of the NHL's L.A. Kings, but he also bought one-third of the shares of the Los Angeles Lakers back in 1998.

Paul Allen

Although Paul Allen passed away in 2018, he will forever be remembered as the co-founder of Microsoft as well as a celebrated investor and philanthropist who was said to be worth around $20 million dollars at the time of his death.

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Photo Courtesy: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Among his assets were about $4 billion worth of professional sports holdings. He had used his fortune not only to invest in tech and real estate, but also to purchase the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and enough shares to make him a partial owner of the MLS' Seattle Sounders

Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell first established his unquestionable hilarity on SNL and has gone on to star in plenty of comedies such as Elf, Old School, and Anchor Man. With a net worth of around $100 million, he fully embraced his sports fandom by becoming co-owner of a professional soccer team called the Los Angeles FC.

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Photo Courtesy: Team Coco/IMDB

Though perhaps a surprising investment for one of the funniest men in America, Ferrell definitely infuses his ownership with his trademark humor. He once even channeled his former role as Ron Burgundy during an ESPN interview.

Michael Jordan

As a six-time NBA champion and hall of fame member who is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time, it's no surprise that Michael Jordan didn't leave sports behind upon retiring. Though he may no longer take to the court during games, he's currently the majority holder of the Charlotte Hornets.

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Photo Courtesy: Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

With a net worth of almost $2 billion, Jordan was able to purchase the team for $275 million in 2010 when they were still known as the Charlotte Bobcats. Although their name may have changed, the team's value has risen to over $1 billion.

James Dolan

When it comes to the most controversial team owners in professional sports, James Dolan is likely to make the list. A businessman by trade, Dolan is the executive chairman and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company as well as the executive chairman of MSG Networks.

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Photo Courtesy: NBC/Getty Images

With a net worth of $1.5 billion, Dolan is the owner of both the NBA's New York Knicks and the NHL's New York Rangers. Despite continuous rumors that he's looking to throw in the towel as the Knicks' owner, he currently claims that he's be staying put.

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones is one flush guy, with an estimated net worth of $8.5 billion. While he made much of his original fortune in the oil industry, his life changed forever when he purchased the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 for $150 million.

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Photo Courtesy: MediaNews Group/Getty Images

The investment paid off in a huge way, as the team is currently valued at $5.5 billion. Jones was able to lead the team to three Super Bowl victories in the 1990s, and as President and General Manager, he’s ensured that the Cowboys maintain a powerful presence in the NFL.

Steve Ballmer

Ranking in at number nine on Forbe's 2019 list of the top 400 wealthiest Americans, Steve Ballmer is currently worth a staggering $58.8 billion. As CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014, Ballmer found himself in the position to do pretty much whatever he wanted after stepping down from his position.

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Photo Courtesy: Steven Ballmer/Twitter

As fate would have it, the year of his retirement was also the same one that the Los Angeles Clippers went up for sale. After outbidding several other contenders with an offer of $2 Billion, Ballmer found himself the NBA team's new owner.

Mark Cuban

While Mark Cuban may look familiar, odds are that you probably recognize him from Shark Tank rather than from ESPN. With a net worth of $4.1 billion and a shrewd eye for investment opportunities, it may come as a surprise that his ownership of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks had nothing to do with making money.

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Photo Courtesy: Mark Cuban/Twitter

Cuban became the majority shareholder in the team in 2000 after dropping $280 million simply because he loved the team. As it turned out, his investment was a killer one, as the Mavs went on to become NBA champions in 2011.

Bill Maher

Love him or hate him, Bill Maher succeeded in turning his controversial political commentary into a net worth of a rumored $100 million. While he may have harsh views on a lot of things, it seems that the New York Mets aren't necessarily one of them.

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Photo Courtesy: Team Coco/IMDB

In 2011, the Major League Baseball team decided to raise some extra cash by selling limited partner shares for $20 million each. The offer caught the eye of Maher, a New York City native, who found the investment opportunity too good to pass up.

Jay-Z

As hip-hop's first certified billionaire, Jay-Z is one of the world's most successful rappers. Alongside his best selling albums, he's also invested in everything from alcohol to real estate, and he was once a co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets with a $1 million stake he purchased in 2004.

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Photo Courtesy: Mikamote/Wikimedia Commons

The founder of Roc Nation Sports, he's also signed players such as the NBA's Kyrie Irving and the NFL's Dez Bryant. In late 2019, it was announced that he would soon become the majority owner of an NFL team, though the team itself was not disclosed.

Gayle Benson

After the 2018 death of Tom Benson, who owned both the NFL's New Orleans Saints and NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, widow Gayle found herself the owner of both teams. Suddenly finding herself one of the most powerful women in the NFL, Benson has risen to the challenge.

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Photo Courtesy: Joe-scott11/Wikimedia

With a current net worth of $3.1 billion dollars, Mrs. Benson has already overseen the renovations of both the Pelican's King Center and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It seems that she’s inherited not only her husband's fortune but also the love and support of his fans.

Robert Kraft

You may have seen Robert Kraft's name in the news lately over some unsavory business involving a Florida massage parlor. However, legal trouble's aside, the guy has made quite a name for himself, not to mention somewhere in the arena of $6.9 billion.

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Photo Courtesy: Independent Eagle/Twitter

Kraft bought the New England Patriots back in 1994 and has since enjoyed leading the team to six Super Bowl Championships. He also owns a Major League Soccer club called the New England Revolution and is even part of the team that bought UFC for $4 billion.

Terry Pegula

Terry Pegula first started out with a $7,500 loan in 1983 which he used to get his start in the natural gas industry. He went on to make his fortune in fracking and is currently estimated by Forbes to be worth $4.9 billion.

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Photo Courtesy: Coalman767/Wikimedia

In 2011, he also became the owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and later set his sights on the NFL's Buffalo Bills. After outbidding other groups led by celebrities such as Donald Trump and Bon Jovi in 2014, he was able to acquire the Bills for a cool $1.4 million.

Tilman Fertitta

If you've ever eaten at Landry's or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., then you have billionaire Tilman Fertitta to thank. He owns not only that restaurant brand, but also the lucrative Gold Nugget Casino chain. Part of his $4.8 billion net worth was also earned through the world of sports.

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Photo Courtesy: Tilman Fertitta/Twitter

In 2017, Fertitta decided to launch into team ownership when he bought the NBA's Houston Rockets for $2.2 Billion. If you'd like to pick up some of his business savvy, then check out his book, Shut Up and Listen!

Ted Lerner

Back in the 1950s, Ted Lerner was simply a guy with a dream who was able to convince his wife to loan him $250. As it would turn out, her trust was well placed, because Lerner would turn that $250 into a $5.5 billion family fortune.

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Photo Courtesy: MCT/ Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Lerner used the loan to start a real estate business, and today his family is among the largest real estate owners in Washington D.C. In 2006, Lerner invested in his childhood dream and purchased the Washington Nationals baseball team, though his son Mark took over the team's principal ownership in 2018.

Ted Leonsis

Ted Leonsis originally built his fortune as a Sr. Executive at AOL and co-founder of a venture capital firm called Revolution Growth. These days, however, the billionaire's focus is more on his position as the majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports.

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Photo Courtesy: Ted Leonsis/Twitter

The organization includes six different teams, including the NHL's Washington Capitals, the NBA's Washington Wizards and the Washington Mystics of the WNBA. The Capitals hockey team in particular has paid off for Leonsis in a big way, as they brought home the Stanley Cup win in 2018.

Tom Gores

Tom Gores is the founder of a private Beverly Hills equity firm called Platinum Equity, which oversees more than 25 companies. With a $5.6 billion net worth, Gores decided to dive headfirst into the NBA in 2011 when he and Platinum Equity purchased the Detroit Pistons.

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Photo Courtesy: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

By 2015, he was able to buy out all of Platinum Euqity's shares, giving him sole ownership of the team. While the team may still be creeping slowly towards the championship, Gores wasn't shy about dropping $90 million to build his team a state of the art training center, which opened in 2019.

Dan Gilbert

At just 22-years-old, Dan Gilbert co-founded the company that would become Quicken Loans, the internet's largest mortgage lender. Currently boasting a net worth of $6.9 billion, Gilbert has become more recognizable to many sports fans as the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Photo Courtesy: Paul Warner/Getty Images

After purchasing the team in 2005, Gilbert suffered through the saga of Lebron James' departures and returns with the tenacity of a romance novel heroine. It all eventually paid off in 2016, however, when Lebron led the team to the championship for the first time in 52 years.

Robert Pera

While some rumors claim that Justin Timberlake is now the man behind the Memphis Grizzlies, the truth is that he's actually only a minority owner. The majority owner is a guy named Robert Pera, who's also the founder and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks. Oh, and he's also worth $9.4 billion.

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Photo Courtesy: Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Pera officially purchased the Grizzlies back in 2012 and successfully led them to the playoffs for the first five seasons of his ownership. The team also enjoyed a club record-breaking 56-win campaign during the 2012-13 season.