Michael J. Ivins/Getty Images
Michael J. Ivins/Getty Images

How Billionaire Sports Owners Made Their Fortunes

Michael J. Ivins/Getty Images
Michael J. Ivins/Getty Images

Owning a professional sports franchise is my dream job. (I'm willing to relocate.) Of course, I could never afford my own team. There's a better chance I'll miraculously develop an unhittable slider, or learn to punt.

You obviously must be exceedingly wealthy to become an owner. Did you ever wonder how all these people made all that money? I sure hope you did, because we went and did all this research. Here's a list of eight billionaire owners and how they built their fortunes.

1. Rich DeVos, Orlando Magic (NBA)

In 1959, DeVos and high school friend Jay Van Andel started selling all-purpose cleaner. Their business grew to become Amway, which now brings in $6 billion each year under the ominous-sounding Alticor name. Whether you see Amway as an empowering direct sales company or as something resembling a cult, it sure was good to DeVos. Forbes estimates his wealth at $3.5 billion, making the paltry $85 million he spent on the Magic in 1991 a minor investment.

2. Robert L. Johnson, Charlotte Bobcats (NBA)

Lower on my list of dream jobs is running a cable network that caters to urban youth. So I'm all kinds of envious of Robert L., who founded BET and sold it to Viacom for $3 billion in 2001. His fortune was depleted by an expensive divorce, but Johnson's estimated net worth is still $1.1 billion. His resume is full of firsts — BET was the first African-American owned company traded on the NYSE. He was the first African-American billionaire in the U.S. And, in 2002, he became the first African-American majority owner of a professional sports franchise.

3. Robert Kraft, New England Patriots (NFL)

I'd never really given it much thought, but I'd always assumed Kraft bought the Patriots with big cheese money he'd inherited. But Kraft got his start in the paper business. His wife, Myra, is the daughter of Massachusetts philanthropist Jacob Hiatt. After Kraft finished Harvard Business School, he went to work with his father-in-law's packaging company. In 1972, Kraft founded International Forest Products, which is now part of the Kraft Group—a diversified collection of companies ranging from Gillette Stadium to the New England Revolution (Major League Soccer) to Carmel Container Systems (Israel's largest packaging plant). Kraft is seen as a savior in New England—before he bought the team in 1994, the Pats seemed destined for relocation to St. Louis. Plus he's made them really, really good, winning three Super Bowls this decade.

Another reason I'm so keen on owning a team is the access to foreign heads of state. In 2005, Kraft met Vladimir Putin, who walked off with one of Kraft's Super Bowl rings. Kraft now claims it was a gift, but that might just be what you say when a Russian leader steals your jewelry.

4. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Seattle Mariners (MLB)

Despite America's strong resistance to Japanese ownership "“ and despite his admitted lack of interest in baseball "“ Hiroshi Yamauchi became majority owner of the Seattle Mariners in 1992. Yamauchi is the man credited with transforming Nintendo from playing-card company to video game giant. His 55-year tenure saw incredible growth. But that doesn't mean there weren't a few bumps along the way. Forays into instant rice, taxi service and short-stay hotels (also known as "love hotels") did not pan out.

5. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

jerry-jones.jpg

Jerry Jones built an oil empire in the early 1970s, striking gas in the first thirteen wells he drilled. His father had given him a head start; Pat Jones sold the Modern Security Life Insurance Company for millions.

An undersized guard, Jones was captain of the 1965 Cotton Bowl-winning Arkansas Razorbacks. Future Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was a teammate, and Johnson's successor, Barry Switzer, was a Razorbacks assistant.

Jones bought the Cowboys for an estimated $140 million in 1989. He immediately made waves by firing Tom Landry "“ the only coach in Cowboys history "“ and replacing him with his college buddy (the aforementioned Jimmy Johnson, who was coaching the University of Miami). After a rocky 1-15 start in 1989, the Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. [Photo courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.]

6. Malcolm Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Manchester United (English Premier League)

Malcolm Glazer inherited a small jewelry repair business from his father. But it was Malcolm's investments in Florida trailer parks that started his financial ascent. He went on to become president and CEO of First Allied Corporation, which now owns 6,700,000 square feet of retail space. He was also chairman of Gilbert/Robinson, Inc., which managed over 100 restaurants, including Houlihan's and Darryl's. Today, the Glazer family oversees strip malls and nursing homes throughout the land. Glazer also has a large stake in Zapata, an oil company founded by George H.W. Bush.

Glazer made five previous attempts to join the elite ranks of NFL ownership, including a failed 1993 bid to bring an expansion team to Baltimore. The New York Times said Glazer had "a reputation as a franchise window shopper, one who looks at virtually every team that comes up for sale." But in 1995, he outbid George Steinbrenner for the downtrodden Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Under his leadership, the franchise was righted, earning a Super Bowl title in 2003. Glazer also bought Manchester United, and fans weren't exactly pleased.

7. Daniel Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)

With $5,000 he'd earned delivering pizzas "“ and after a stint as a TV reporter "“ the future Cavs owner started a small mortgage company called Rock Financial in 1985. In 1999, the company was bought by Intuit for $532 million. Three years later, Gilbert bought it back for $64 mil, renaming the company Quicken Loans. He purchased the Cavaliers for $375 mil in 2005. He also owns Fathead, which makes wall decals and tiresome ads. On the side, Gilbert is working to beat Michigan's steroid-free bench-pressing record.

8. Stephen Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens (NFL)

At 48, Stephen Bisciotti is one of the NFL's youngest owners. He made his money in staffing "“ specifically, finding talented engineers for the aerospace industry. With Jim Davis, Bisciotti founded Aerotek in 1983 (he was 23). Their staffing company, now known as the Allegis Group, had revenues of $4.4 billion in 2005. Bisciotti bought 49% of the Ravens in 2000, and purchased the rest from Art Modell in 2004.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
7 Things You Didn't Know You Should Negotiate, and How to Get the Best Deal
iStock
iStock

Most people know that they should try to negotiate a higher salary or a better deal on a car, but you may not whip out your haggling skills on everyday purchases. And that's probably a mistake, according to Chelsea Fagan from The Financial Diet. In this video spotted by Digg, Fagan shares some tips and tricks for getting the best deal, and making sure you aren't letting discounts pass you by.

She suggests letting go of the stigma of trying to haggle, and making sure to ask for discounts and look for deals on medical bills, subscription services, your rent, your insurance plan, credit card fees, furniture costs, and work benefits.

Here's how:

Check your medical bills carefully, because according to Fagan, somewhere around 30 to 40 percent of medical bills contain errors, so the chances of you finding a mistake are way higher than you might think. If you can't afford your bill, call your doctor's office and ask if there's anything they can do to help, like lowering the cost or setting up a payment plan. Make sure to call as soon as possible, though, before the bill goes to a debt collector.

Next, you should know that threatening to cancel your cell phone service or newspaper subscription can be highly effective. Subscription services will often give you a discount if you're thinking about leaving.

When it comes to rent, you may think there isn't wiggle room. But it can cost landlords significant money, time, and hassle to replace a tenant, and you should use that to your advantage when it comes time to renew your lease. It may not work in super-hot real estate markets, but if you're a good tenant, your landlord probably wants you to stick around.

Insurance costs may also seem impossible to negotiate, but month-to-month premiums and costs aren't as fixed as you might think, especially when it comes to car insurance. Even if they can't lower your bills during negotiation, you might be able to get benefits and perks that weren't originally included.

Make sure you're getting the best deal you can on your credit card, too. You can sometimes get your annual credit card fee waived or receive a higher credit limit just by asking, so don't be shy.

If you're buying something major for your home like a new washer-dryer combo or a full living room set, know that many stores will negotiate with you over big purchases. If you go shopping at the end of the month, for instance, sales staff might have a monthly sales goal they're trying to hit, and might be more willing to knock off a portion of the price just to make the sale.

And last, when it comes time to ask for that raise, don't stick to just demanding a higher paycheck. Vacation time, sick leave, retirement plans, and other salary benefits are all negotiable. If you can't get a higher salary from your boss, you might be able to get more vacation time or flexible work hours.

Fagan recommends that no matter what you're trying to haggle over, you're better off talking to a human. That means calling up your doctor's office, your cell phone carrier, or anyone else you're trying to negotiate with and asking for a customer service representative, instead of dealing with bills online or through the mail. Sometimes, these customer service workers might have some allowances they're allowed to give out, or in the case of shopping, a retail employee might have sales goals or make commissions, so they're incentivized to help you out.

Let Fagan break it down for you further in the video below.

[h/t Digg]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
How Investing Just $100 Per Month Can Give Your Nest Egg a Serious Boost
iStock
iStock

If you have $100 to spare, you may want to consider investing it instead of spending it immediately. Later down the road, your frugality will be rewarded with a nice chunk of cash that you can use when you retire.

Start investing today and a $60,000 investment could turn into a nest egg of $522,000 in 50 years, according to an analysis by The Motley Fool, a financial services company. Even if you don’t have half a century to wait, a $12,000 investment will grow an extra $5700 over the course of 10 years, netting you $17,700. Not a bad return for just $100 a month.

What this all comes down to is compound interest, which is essentially earning interest on top of interest. Calculating that the market returns about 7 percent per year, adjusted for inflation, The Motley Fool explains what this would mean for someone who invests $100 a month:

“That means the $1,200 you invest in year one will be worth $84 more in year two. When year three rolls around, that original sum will gain even more—roughly $90—because the interest from the previous year will grow as well. That might seem like small stuff, but over time, the effects can be astounding.”

You can see this at work with bank accounts that pay interest, but compounding also affects other types of investments, like stocks. Many stocks have dividends, which are payments corporations disburse to investors each quarter—say, 50 cents per share. When you receive dividends, you can reinvest that money, using it to buy new stock shares. Each of those new shares then pays its own dividend, growing your money exponentially over time.

However, the financial service agency says you shouldn’t start investing until you’ve paid off all high-interest debt—like credit card debt—and established an emergency fund with enough money to cover your basic expenses for three months if you happened to lose your job. Once that's settled, you can start putting some of your extra earnings into an investment account, like a 401(k) or IRA. (The company also offers some tips on how to set up a brokerage account, and how to figure out which type of account is best for you.)

Ready to start building up that nest egg? Check out Mental Floss’s 15-minute guide to how you can start investing today.

[h/t The Motley Fool]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios