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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)

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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.

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10 Things You Can Do With Pennies
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What's the use of a penny in today's economy? The U.S. government has been talking about doing away with the copper-plated coin for years, but so far, no progress has been made. Two big arguments against keeping the coin in production are time and cost. In 2016, the U.S. Mint spent 1.5 cents to produce each one, making the cost of every penny 50 percent higher than its actual value.

They also waste a lot of time. Citizens to Retire the U.S. Penny claims that handling pennies adds an average of two seconds to a cash transaction. According to a 2012 study by the Federal Reserve, there are 107 billion cash transactions per year in the United States.

To help you combat the penny problem, here are some strategies for spending them, plus ways to put them to creative use.

1. DEPOSIT THEM AT THE BANK.

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If you don't want your pennies, your bank will take them. Count them out, roll them in coin wrappers (ask your bank if they can give you some for free), and deposit them into your account. There are a few banks that will count coins for free and exchange them for bills so you can walk away with cold, hard cash. You can find participating institutions listed on Lifehacker and MyBankTracker.

2. TAKE THEM TO A COINSTAR MACHINE.

Coinstar machines are magical: You dump your jar of change into their depths and get cash in return. The major downside is that there's an 11.9 percent service fee. However, if you choose the eGift Card option, there's no fee. Options include Amazon, Starbucks, Sephora, iTunes, and Best Buy. Or, turn your coins into a tax-deductible donation to one of several charities. You can use Coinstar's website to find a machine near you.

3. MAKE A COLD COMPRESS.

If you don't have an ice pack in the freezer, try making one with the contents of your piggy bank. Throw some coppers into an old sock, tie it, and freeze it. (A plastic bag works, too.)

4. CREATE DIY DRAPERY WEIGHTS.

If your curtains flare out and won't stay straight, use pennies as drapery weights. Open the stitching at the bottom of your drapes and slide a few pennies in, then sew it back up.

5. SEPARATE THEM INTO DENOMINATIONS BEFOREHAND TO MAKE SHOPPING EASY.

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Organize your pennies into groups of five or 10 and put them into small Ziploc bags to keep in your purse or backpack. Then you can combine them to pay for something that calls for, say, 15 cents in change. Or, if your total comes to an amount that's not a multiple of five or 10, breaking open a baggie is easier than scrounging around in your coin purse.

6. DECORATE YOUR FLOORS …

If you have lots of pennies, use them for floor tiling. If you're feeling especially ambitious, try a pattern. The internet is full of stunning examples of penny flooring.

7. … OR MAKE A PENNY TABLE.

Add a copper top to a plain table with this DIY guide.

8. USE TAKE A PENNY, LEAVE A PENNY JARS.

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Take a penny, leave a penny trays are everywhere—but many people don't understand how they work. They're commonly seen at convenience stores or other small shops. Here's the rundown: Customers can take pennies from the bowl if they don't have change and don't want to break a bill. If you get pennies as part of your change for a transaction, you can get rid of them there, so they never even touch your wallet in the first place.

9. MAKE JEWELRY.

There are plenty of DIY penny jewelry ideas out there, including a bracelet, a lucky penny necklace, and a bejeweled ring. You can also make some hand-stamped bling like this pendant.

10. FUNNEL YOUR PENNIES INTO HOME DECOR.

There are endless ways to turn pennies into statement pieces for your pad. Paint them white to make this crafty vase, make them into coasters, decorate a mirror or a picture frame. Make some creative wall art, like this penny mosaic portrait of Abraham Lincoln, these block letters, or this ombré wall hanging. Or, find pennies from milestone years in your life and make a commemorative piece like this one.

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Do You Make Enough to Own a Home in One of America's Largest Cities?
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As the cost of living continues to rise, owning a home in the city is becoming an unobtainable dream for many urbanites. But exactly how expensive would it be to wave goodbye to landlords and rent checks and purchase a place of your own? Personal finance website SmartAsset used Census Bureau data to determine the minimum salary needed to afford a home in America’s largest cities, CNBC reports.

After gathering data on median home values for 2016, SmartAsset ran the numbers through their mortgage calculator to see what monthly home payments would look like in each city. For the purposes of the study, they assumed homeowners would start debt-free, make a 20 percent down payment on their house, take out a 30-year mortgage worth 80 percent of the home value, and pay 4 percent interest and 0.5 percent homeowner’s insurance.

California is the priciest locale for urban homeowners by far, with cities in that state accounting for four of the top five spots on the list. In San Francisco, where the median home value is over $1 million, you need to take home an annual salary of at least $164,666 before you can consider buying a house. In San Jose, California, the minimum salary for homeowners is $131,503, and in New York City it’s $111,662.

But owning a home in the city on a more humble salary isn’t impossible. In Indianapolis, the cheapest of the 15 cities, the median home value is $128,000, and the minimum income to buy a home is $21,955. Above that is Philadelphia, where you can get by as a homeowner on just $25,906 a year. Homes in San Antonio, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio are all cheap enough to purchase with salaries of less than $30,000.

You can check out the full list of cities and salaries below.

1. San Francisco, CA // $164,666
2. San Jose, CA // $131,503
3. New York, NY // $111,662
4. Los Angeles, CA // $97,292
5. San Diego, CA // $97,292
6. Austin, TX // $60,875
7. Chicago, IL // $48,384
8. Phoenix, AZ // $35,022
9. Houston, TX // $33,641
10. Dallas, TX // $33,641
11. Columbus, OH // $28,013
12. Jacksonville, FL // $26,990
13. San Antonio, TX // $26,914
14. Philadelphia, PA // $25,906
15. Indianapolis, IN // $21,955

[h/t CNBC]

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