America’s Richest Sports Team Owners 2019: Steve Ballmer Leads As David Tepper Leaps Atop NFL List

Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Kawhi Leonard & Paul George

The Los Angeles Clippers were the major winners of the basketball summer, landing free agent Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George. That pairing of All-NBA players makes the Clippers the favorites to win the 2020 NBA title, with the season set to tip off at the end of the month.

It has also been a strong year off the court for Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. The net worth of the former Microsoft CEO is up $9.4 billion, to $51.4 billion, thanks to a 21% gain in Microsoft’s shares over the last 12 months.

Ballmer is the richest U.S. sports owner for the fifth straight year; he ranks ninth among all Americans. Most sports teams owners are rich thanks in part to soaring franchise values, driven by ever-escalating media deals. And then there is Steve Ballmer-rich. His wealth is more than four times that of the next richest owner in sports, and his 12-month net worth gain alone is more than the total net worth of all but three team owners.

Ballmer joined the ranks of team owners in 2014 when he paid $2 billion for the long-suffering Clippers franchise, which made the playoffs only four times in its first 33 seasons in Southern California. The Clippers have been transformed from the penny-pinching ways of former owner Donald Sterling to a first-rate franchise under Ballmer.

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Next up: a new privately financed arena in Inglewood, California, targeting 2024 as an opening. The expected $1 billion-plus cost is pocket change for Ballmer.

There are 42 members of the Forbes 400 who own controlling stakes in teams in major sports leagues. The cutoff this year is $2.1 billion, flat from 2018. The team owners are worth $247 billion collectively.

David Tepper ($12 billion) is the second-richest American sports owner and the wealthiest of the 16 NFL owners on the Forbes 400 after the October 2018 death of Paul Allen. Tepper, a hedge fund titan, is also the league’s newest owner after buying the Carolina Panthers for an NFL-record $2.3 billion last year.

Phil Anschutz, who owns the Los Angeles Kings and the LA Galaxy, is the richest owner in hockey and soccer, which count nine and eight Forbes 400 members, respectively, among their ranks. Eight baseball owners made the cut, headed by Ted Lerner of the Washington Nationals ($5.1 billion). Ballmer leads the 14 NBA owners on the Forbes 400.

The biggest gainer in dollar terms is Ballmer, but another NBA owner had the biggest percentage jump. The net worth of the Detroit Pistons’ Tom Gores jumped 44%, to $5.6 billion, after his private equity firm closed its biggest fund yet; his Platinum Equity’s assets under management have soared 70% since last year, to $19.4 billion. Gores and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones ($8.6 billion) both had their net worth increase $1.7 billion from a year ago, second-most behind Ballmer.

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison ($8.1 billion) had the biggest decline. His fortune dropped $1.3 billion after a 30% drop in the share price of Carnival Cruises, which he founded in 1972.

Four female sports team owners cracked the Forbes 400. Janice McNair ($4 billion) is the wealthiest after inheriting the Houston Texans when her husband, Robert, died in November.

Rank, Owner, Net worth, Source of wealth, Team(s)

1. Steve Ballmer: $51.7 billion, Microsoft (Los Angeles Clippers)

2. David Tepper: $12 billion, hedge funds (Carolina Panthers)

3. Philip Anschutz: $11.5 billion, investments (Los Angeles Kings, LA Galaxy)

4. Stanley Kroenke: $9.7 billion, sports, real estate (Los Angeles Rams, Arsenal, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids)

5. Jerry Jones: $8.6 billion, Dallas Cowboys

6. Micky Arison: $8.1 billion, Carnival Cruises (Miami Heat)

7. Shahid Khan: $7.8 billion, auto parts (Jacksonville Jaguars)

8. Stephen Ross: $7.6 billion, real estate (Miami Dolphins)

9. Robert Kraft: $6.9 billion, New England Patriots, New England Revolution

10. Daniel Gilbert: $6.5 billion, Quicken Loans (Cleveland Cavaliers)

11. Robert Pera: $6.4 billion, wireless networking gear (Memphis Grizzlies)

12. Tom Gores: $5.6 billion, private equity (Detroit Pistons)

13. Arthur Blank: $5.5 billion, Home Depot (Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United)

14. Charles Dolan & family: $5.3 billion, cable TV (New York Knicks, New York Rangers)

15. Ted Lerner & family: $5.1 billion, real estate (Washington Nationals)

16. Tilman Fertitta: $4.9 billion, Houston Rockets, entertainment

16. Charles Johnson: $4.9 billion, money management (San Francisco Giants)

16. Terrence Pegula: $4.9 billion, natural gas (Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres)

19. Henry Samueli: $4.6 billion, semiconductors (Anaheim Ducks)

20. Stephen Bisciotti: $4.5 billion, Baltimore Ravens, staffing

21. Joshua Harris: $4.4 billion, private equity (Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, Crystal Palace)

22. Jeremy Jacobs Sr. & family: $4.3 billion, food service (Boston Bruins)

23. Mark Cuban: $4.1 billion, online media (Dallas Mavericks)

24. Janice McNair: $4 billion, energy, sports (Houston Texans)

25. Joe Mansueto: $3.9 billion, investment research (Chicago Fire)

26. Marian Ilitch: $3.7 billion, Little Caesars (Detroit Red Wings)

27. Herbert Simon: $3.4 billion, real estate (Indiana Pacers)

28. John Middleton: $3.3 billion, tobacco (Philadelphia Phillies)

28. Arturo Moreno: $3.3 billion, Los Angeles Angels, billboards

30. Mark Walter: $3.3 billion, finance (Los Angeles Dodgers)

31. Denise York & family: $3.2 billion, San Francisco 49ers

32. Gayle Benson: $3.1 billion, sports teams (New Orleans Pelicans, New Orleans Saints)

33. James Irsay: $3 billion, Indianapolis Colts

34. Jimmy Haslam: $2.9 billion, gas stations, retail (Cleveland Browns, Columbus Crew)

34. Glen Taylor: $2.9 billion, printing (Minnesota Timberwolves)

36. Anthony Ressler: $2.8 billion, finance, Atlanta Hawks

37. John Henry: $2.7 billion, sports (Boston Red Sox, Liverpool, Roush Fenway Racing)

37. Jeffrey Lurie: $2.7 billion, Philadelphia Eagles

39. Dan Snyder: $2.6 billion, Washington Redskins

40. John Fisher: $2.5 billion, Gap (Oakland Athletics, San Jose Earthquakes)

41. Ray Davis: $2.3 billion, pipelines (Texas Rangers)

42. Vincent Viola: $2.2 billion, electronic trading (Florida Panthers)


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