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How Baseball Owners Made Their Fortunes

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Baseball season is finally here, so let's take a look at the people profiting from $16 stadium beers.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Ken Kendrick (Part-Owner)

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Forbes estimates the Diamondbacks are worth $447 million. Kendrick was a founding part-owner of the franchise in 1995 and became Managing General Partner in 2004.

Collector: Kendrick owns the most expensive baseball card in history, the T206 Honus Wagner. He paid $2.8 million for the card—dubbed the "Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner" because Wayne Gretzky was one of its previous owners—in 2007. Kendrick owns more than 10,000 baseball cards.

How He Got Rich: In the '70s, Kendrick merged his data technology firm with another to create Datatel, Inc. The company specializes in information processing and software products for higher education.

Atlanta Braves: Liberty Media (Chairman John C. Malone)

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Owners Since: 2007

The Numbers: The media group bought the Braves in 2007 for $450 million. The baseball franchise is worth around $508 million today. Forbes estimates the company's Chairman, John Malone, to be worth $7.1 billion.

Other Holdings: Liberty Media either owns or holds large shares of QVC, Expedia, Sirius XM Radio, and Barnes & Noble.

How He Got Rich: Malone started in telecomunications at AT&T and served as the President and CEO of TCI before becoming the Chairman of Liberty Media Group.

Baltimore Orioles: Peter Angelos

Owner Since: 1993

The Numbers: Angelos led a group of investors in the $173 million acquisition of the Baltimore Orioles. They were awarded the franchise in bankruptcy court.

Other Investors: Techno-thriller novelist Tom Clancy was a member of that investment group and made $230 million from his original $43 million stake in the team. That buys a lot of U.S. Navy baseball hats.

How He Got Rich: Angelos is a successful personal injury attorney. He represented the state of Maryland in their suit against Philip Morris and his firm also took on the manufacturers of the diet drug Fen-Phen.

Boston Red Sox: John W. Henry

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: After he sold the Florida Marlins, John W. Henry and his partner Tom Werner paid $380 million for the Red Sox in 2002. The team is now worth $1.3 billion.

Other Ventures: Henry is also the principal owner of the Boston Globe and Liverpool FC, and is a part-owner of NASCAR's Roush Fenway Racing team.

How He Got Rich: John Henry started a commodities management company in 1981. According to Forbes, he is "winding down" the "struggling" firm.

Chicago Cubs: Thomas S. Ricketts

Image courtesy of TonytheTiger, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2009

The Numbers: The Ricketts family bought the Cubs for $700 million.

Wrigley Connection: After college, Ricketts lived with his brother in an apartment across the street from Wrigley Field. He also met his wife in Wrigley's bleachers during a game.

How He Got Rich: Tom Ricketts is a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (his father founded Ameritrade in 1983). He is also the chairman of Incapital LLC, an investment firm. The Ricketts family wealth is estimated at $1 billion.

Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf

Owner Since 1981

The Numbers: Reinsdorf bought the White Sox for $20 million. The team is now worth an estimated $695 million.

Other Ventures: Reinsdorf also owns the Chicago Bulls. He bought the then-financially struggling basketball team in 1985. The Bulls are now one of the most profitable franchises in sports.

How He Got Rich: Reinsdorf started his career as a tax attorney. He went on to specialize in real estate tax shelters and investments in properties that were under construction.

Cincinnati Reds: Robert Castellini

YouTube

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: Castellini led a group that purchased the team for $270 million from dairy billionaire Carl Lindner, Jr. in 2006.

Frequent Buyers Club: Robert Castellini was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' ownership group as well as the investment group that purchased the Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: He is the president of a Cincinnati-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

Cleveland Indians: Larry Dolan

YouTube

Owner Since: 1999

The Numbers: Larry Dolan bought the team for $323 million. The Indians are now estimated to be worth $600 million.

Family Business: His brother Charles founded Cablevision, which controls the Madison Square Garden company. That entity, which is now run by Larry's nephew James, owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

How He Got Rich: Dolan was a successful lawyer and is a managing partner of a large Ohio-based firm.

Colorado Rockies: Charles and Richard Monfort

Owners Since: 1992

The Numbers: The Monfort brothers bought a controlling interest in the expansion team in 1992, paying $92 million. The Rockies are now worth an estimated $575 million.

They Don't Quite Agree With Those Numbers Above: Dick Monfort thinks the club is worth a little more than Forbes' estimate. In an email to the Denver Post, he wrote, "The Astros sold for $600 million, as did the Padres, so I would guess that is the realm of our value. Then you do balance sheet adjustment. Forbes is close."

How They Got Rich: Their father sold his meat processing and distributing company for $365.5 million to ConAgra Foods in 1987. Both brothers work as executives there.

Detroit Tigers: Mike Ilitch

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Ilitch bought the Tigers in 1992 for $82 million. The team is worth an estimated $680 million.

Second Baseman: He played minor league ball for four years before injuring his knee.

How He Got Rich: Pizza pizza. In 1959, Ilitch opened Little Caesars Pizza in Garden City, Michigan. A massive franchise followed, and Illitch is worth an estimate $2.7 billion today.

Houston Astros: Jim Crane

Owner Since: 2011

The Numbers: Crane paid $465 million for the Astros in 2011.

Scratch Golfer: Golf Digest ranks Crane as the world's best CEO golfer. As of 2006, he had a 0.8 handicap.

How He Got Rich: Crane founded Eagle Global Logistics, Inc., a worldwide transportation and supply management company, in 1984. He served as CEO until it merged with CEVA Logistics in 2007.

Kansas City Royals: David Glass

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Glass was the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royals in 1993 and eventually bought the team in 2000 for $96 million. They are now worth an estimated $490 million.

How He Got Rich: From 1988 to 2000, Glass served as CEO of Wal-Mart.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arturo Moreno

Owner Since 2003

The Numbers: Moreno bought the Angels from The Walt Disney Company in 2003 for $180 million.

Pioneer: Moreno is the first ever Mexican American owner of a major U.S. sports team.

How He Got Rich: He started his career in advertising and eventually became the CEO of Outdoor Systems, a billboard company. Moreno sold Outdoor Systems in 2008 for a reported $8 billion. He is now worth an estimated $1.15 billion.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Guggenheim Baseball Management (CEO: Mark Walter)

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group let by Mark Walter (Magic Johnson is another notable member), purchased the Dodgers in 2012 for $2 billion—a record amount for a sports team.

How He Got Rich: Walter is a founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners, LLC, a financial and investment firm based in New York and Chicago.

Miami Marlins: Jeffrey Loria

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: Loria had become majority owner of the Montreal Expos in 1999. After a series of miscues (some accuse these of being deliberate), Loria couldn't secure English-language television rights and demanded tax funds for a new stadium (the request was denied). In 2002, with the help of commissioner Bud Selig, Loria sold the Expos to MLB for $120 million. John W. Henry, the owner of the Marlins at the time, then sold the Florida team to Loria for $158.5 million, making it possible for Henry to buy the Red Sox. The Expos were then moved to D.C. to become the Nationals. All three moves happened almost simultaneously, with all parties working closely together on the switches.

Nice Painting, Can it Play Third?: In 2013, Loria sold one Alberto Giacometti painting for $32.6 million. As Yahoo! notes, that's over $6 million less than the Marlins' payroll at the time.

How He Got Rich: After studying art in college, Loria became head of the Vincent Price Collection of artwork at Sears (yes, this was a thing). After leaving the department store, he opened his own gallery and became a successful art dealer.

Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Attanasio

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Attanasio led a group that purchased the Brewers from the Selig family for $223 million.

Collector: After his collection of Yankees Topps cards was stolen from a cousin's house, Attanasio tried to replenish the entire set by buying replacements on eBay.

How He Got Rich: Attanasio co-founded Crescent Capital Group, an investment firm, in 1991. The group was sold to the Trust Company of the West in 1995, and he stayed on as an executive.

Minnesota Twins: Jim Pohlad

Owner Since: 1984

The Numbers: Carl Pohlad purchased the Twins in 1984 for $44 million. After his death in 2009, his son Jim inherited the team, which is now worth an estimated $605 million.

Number Cruncher: When his father bought the Twins, Jim Pohlad worked as an analyst and made payroll projections for the team.

How He Got Rich: Pohlad's father got into the banking industry after the great depression and became a successful investor in industries like aviation and soft-drink bottling. At the time of his death, Carl Pohlad's net worth was estimated at $3.6 billion.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon (Majority Owner)

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: In 2002, Wilpon and his family became the majority owners of the Mets for a total sum of $391 million.

Madoff Money: Wilpon invested heavily with Bernie Madoff. After Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme fell apart, victims sued Wilpon and other Mets owners for knowingly supporting the fraud. They agreed on a settlement of $162 million, as well as the acknowledgment that Wilpon and the Mets' ownership had no clue about the scheme.

How He Got Rich: In the 1970s, Wilpon and his brother started Sterling Equities, a real estate development company. They focused on real estate at the bottom of the market and the business soon boomed.

New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner

Owner Since: 1973

The Numbers: George Steinbrenner led a group that purchased the Yankees from CBS for under $10 million in 1973. They are now worth $2.5 billion, making them the most valuable team in baseball and the fourth most valuable franchise in all of sports.

How He Got Rich: Hal was given control of the Yankees in 2007 by his father, George, as his health began to wane. The family's money originally came from the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, a shipping business purchased by George's great-grandfather in 1901.

Oakland Athletics: Lewis Wolff and John L. Fisher (Co-Owners)

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Wolff led the ownership group that bought the A's for $180 million in 2005. The majority owner is John J. Fisher, who staked most of the money.

Soccer Side Projects: Fisher has small ownership investments in the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS and Scottish side Glasgow Celtic.

How He Got Rich: Wolff made his fortune in real estate. He began as an appraiser in St. Louis before moving west and becoming a development mogul in San Diego. His companies now manage hotel properties around the world.

Fisher is an heir to the Gap clothing fortune. He is worth an estimated $2.8 billion.

Philadelphia Phillies: David Montgomery (Managing Group Partner)

Owner Since: 1981

The Numbers: David Montgomery is managing partner of the group that bought the Phillies from the Carpenter family for $30 million in 1981.

Heckling the Team He'd One Day Run: As a teenager, Montgomery would attend Phillies games with friend (and future Pennsylvania Governor) Ed Rendell. One time, after ribbing Phillies reliever Turk Farrell, Rendell recalls, “[Farrell] got so mad he looked like he was going to throw a ball at us, and Turk could really hum the ball. We were scared to death.”

How He Got Rich: Montgomery's wealth comes from within the franchise—he was the team's director of sales and marketing before becoming its business director shortly before the purchase.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Nutting

Owner Since:1996

The Numbers: Robert Nutting purchased the team for $92 million. The Pirates are now evaluated to be worth $572 million.

Air Pirate: Nutting is a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor.

How He Got Rich: Nutting is the President and CEO of Ogden Newspapers, a publisher of over 40 newspapers and media outlets across the U.S. that was started by his great-grandfather in 1890.

San Diego Padres: Ron Fowler

Image courtesy of Bagumba, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Fowler was a member of the minority ownership group of the Padres and organized a new group that bought full ownership of the team in 2012 for $800 million (as much as $200 million of the sale included the rights to Fox Sports San Diego).

Other Ventures: Fowler used to own the San Diego Shockers, an indoor soccer team that dissolved in 1996.

How He Got Rich: Fowler is the chairman of Liquid Investments, a West Coast beer distribution company.

San Francisco Giants: Charles Bartlett Johnson (Principal Owner)

YouTube

Owner Since 1992

The Numbers: In 2012, Charles B. Johnson upped his stake in the Giants' ownership group and became principal owner (the group had purchased the team in 1992 for $100 million).

Low-Visibility Owner: Johnson watched the Giants' 2010 World Series victory at home on TV and he sent his daughter to represent him during the parade.

How He Got Rich: Johnson was the Chairman of Franklin Resources, which controls mutual fund purveyor Franklin Templeton. His father founded Franklin Distributors in 1947. Charles B. Johnson's net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion.

Seattle Mariners: Nintendo (represented by CEO Howard Lincoln)

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Gaming giant Nintendo bought the Mariners in 1992 in a deal worth $100 million. The team is now worth $710 million. Howard Lincoln became the CEO of the Mariners after the death of majority shareholder and former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Baseball?: When he bought the Mariners, Yamauchi admitted that he had never been to a baseball game in his entire life. Despite owning the team for 20 years until his death, Yamauchi never attended a single game.

How He Got Rich: Lincoln started his career with Nintendo as a lawyer before eventually working his way up to Chairman in 1994.

St. Louis Cardinals: William DeWitt, Jr.

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: DeWitt and his partners purchased the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch for $150 million.

Serial Investor: Before buying the Cardinals, DeWitt was a member of groups that invested in the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: DeWitt is a founder of the investment firm Reynolds, DeWitt & Co., which owns various properties such as the U.S. Playing Card Company and dozens of Arby's franchises.

Tampa Bay Rays: Stuart Sternberg

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Sternberg is the Rays' principal owner—he bought a controlling interest in the team for $200 million.

Adios, "Devil": In 2007, Sternberg oversaw the team's name change from "Devil Rays" to, simply, "Rays": "We were tied to the past, and the past wasn't necessarily something we wanted to be known for."

How He Got Rich: Sternberg started investing in the stock market and worked in the industry until 2002, when he retired from Goldman Sachs as a partner. According to the New York Times, "he cashed out...for a reported $400 million."

Texas Rangers: Ray Davis

YouTube

Owner Since: 2010

The Numbers: Davis bought the Rangers for $593 million. The team is now valued at $825 million.

Invisible Owner: After the (suspected) ousting of team CEO Chuck Greenberg, the notoriously hard-to-find Davis talked to reporters to answer questions. Davis quickly reminded them not to get used to it: "Neither Bob [Simpson] or I expect ever to do another press conference."

How He Got Rich: Ray Davis's estimated net worth is around $1.9 billion. He made his money in the energy sector, acting as CEO of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. until 2007.

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Communications (Chairman: Alan Horn, CEO: Guy Lawrence)

Wikimedia Commons

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Rogers Communications acquired the Blue Jays in 2000 for $137 million.

Company Ownership: The Blue Jays are one of three Major League Baseball teams to be owned by a company (The Braves and Seattle Mariners are the other two).

Washington Nationals: Ted Lerner

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: The Lerner Family bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million.

Other Ventures: Lerner is a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Verizon Center and the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

How He Got Rich: Lerner, a real estate mogul, began by building shopping centers in rural Maryland. His net worth is estimated to be around $4 billion.

See Also:

How NBA Owners Made Their Money
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How NFL Owners Made Their Money

All images courtesy of Getty Images unless otherwise stated. Financial numbers are from Forbes unless otherwise stated.

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10 Fascinating Practices on UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List
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You've probably heard of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites—places like Machu Picchu, Auschwitz, and the Tower of London that UNESCO has deemed architecturally or historically important. But UNESCO doesn’t just choose important places to protect—it also maintains an Intangible Cultural Heritage List, which includes traditions and ways of life passed down from generation to generation and now in danger of being lost.

The list is rooted in a 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which created the list to raise visibility for the practices and encourage dialogue around cultural diversity. The list protects five types of cultural heritage: oral expression and traditions (including language); performing arts; social practices, rituals, and festivities; knowledge and practices about nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship.

In some ways, cultural heritage is even more fragile than buildings and archaeological sites because it lies in people’s memories, and so can be easily lost or changed with no real record to preserve it. And the results of a loss of cultural heritage can be dire: Culture helps define a minority group, and the loss of that culture can mean a disconnection from the past.

UNESCO now maintains two lists: the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding (the latter only includes items identified as needing immediate protection).

To be added to a list, an item must be nominated by one of the countries that is a party to the convention. A committee then meets annually to determine which practices should be added to the lists, based on whether they meet the convention's definitions of cultural heritage, whether inscribing the practice will encourage dialogue and awareness, and whether there's been wide involvement by the culture concerned, among other criteria.

1. CULTURE OF JEJU HAENYEO // KOREA

Female divers (some as old as 80) from Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea have been collecting shellfish for hundreds of years. The divers, known as Haenyeo, submerge as much as 30 feet without scuba gear to harvest sea urchins and abalone, working up to seven hours a day. They hold their breath for a minute during each dive, and each makes a distinctive whistling noise when surfacing. Prayers are said to the goddess of the sea before the dives begin. The culture has played an important part in elevating women’s status on the island—women are the primary breadwinners in these families, and the haenyeo have become a symbol of the place.

2. HIKAYE // PALESTINE

Palestinian women over the age of 70 are part of this narrative tradition. During the winter, at gatherings of women and children (it's considered inappropriate for men to attend), the older women in the community tell fictional stories that critique society from the female point of view and, UNESCO notes, often reveal a conflict between "duty and desire." The storytelling involves rhythm, inflection, and other vocal arts, but is now on the decline due to the availability of mass media.

3. CAMEL COAXING // MONGOLIA

Mongol camel herders perform a special ritual when they want a mother camel to accept a newborn calf or adopt an orphan. The mother and calf are tied together and the camel coaxer sings a special song that includes gestures and chants designed to encourage the mother to accept the baby. A horse-head fiddle or flute is also played. The ritual reinforces social ties in the nomadic society, and is passed down from parent to child. But as motorcycles are replacing camels as transportation, the practice is in danger.

4. SUMMER SOLSTICE FIRES // PYRENEES MOUNTAINS

In the Pyrenees Mountains of Andorra, Spain, and France, residents from local villages carry flaming torches down the hills to light large beacons on the night of the summer solstice. Carrying the torches is a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, and setting the first fire is a special role given to priests, politicians, or the newly married. Unmarried girls greet the torch carriers with pastries and wine, and ashes are collected the next morning to put in gardens.

5. KNUCKLE-BONE SHOOTING // MONGOLIA

In Mongolia, residents play a game in which small teams of six to eight people flick pieces of marble across a table to push sheep knuckle bones into a target. The shooters wear personalized costumes denoting their rank in the game, and use individually created shooting tools. They also sing traditional tunes throughout the game.

6. VÍ AND GIẶM FOLK SONGS // VIETNAM

In northern Vietnam, folk songs in the Nghệ Tĩnh dialect are sung while people harvest rice, row boats, make conical hats, or put children to sleep. The songs focus on the values important in that culture, including respect for parents, honesty, and goodness. The songs also provide a way for unmarried young men and women to share their feelings with each other.

7. YURT-MAKING // KAZAKHSTAN AND KYRGYZSTAN

Nomads in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan make round yurts for use as temporary, portable homes, as well as for ceremonies like weddings and funerals. A round wooden frame forms the basis for the structure, and is then covered in felt and braided ropes. Men create the wooden frame, while women create the outside covering and inside decorations, working in groups to create the intricate patterns and reinforce social values.

8. WEAVING OF THE Q’ESWACHAKA BRIDGE // PERU

Quechua-speaking peasant communities in Peru come together each year to replace the suspension bridge over the Apurimac River in the Andes Mountains. The bridge is made of an unusual material—straw that's twisted and tied into ropes. The ropes are attached on each side of the river, and the bridge builders work until they meet in the middle. When the bridge is complete, a festival is held.

9. BARKCLOTH MAKING // UGANDA

Buganda craftsmen from southern Uganda harvest bark from the Mutuba tree and beat the bark with wooden mallets until it is soft, cloth-like, and a terracotta color. The barkcloth is worn as togas by men and women (who add a sash to their outfit) during ceremonial events. The availability of cotton has resulted in a reduction in the production of this specialized cloth.

10. SHRIMP FISHING ON HORSEBACK // BELGIUM

In Oostduinkerke, Belgium, 12 families harvest shrimp using horses. The Brabant horses walk breast-deep in the water parallel to the shore, pulling funnel-shaped nets. They also pull a chain along the bottom, which causes vibrations that make the shrimp jump into the nets. The caught shrimp are then carried in baskets attached to the horses’ sides. Each family specializes in a particular part of the practice, such as caring for the horses or weaving nets. The community celebrates this heritage with a yearly Shrimp Festival.

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10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite
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© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that last year Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. Here are 10 sweet facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. DEB IS BASED ON JERUSHA HESS.

Jared Hess’ wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.’” 

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. “The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me,” she told Rolling Stone. “Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before.”

2. NAPOLEON'S FAMOUS DANCE SCENE MANIFESTED FROM THE SHORT FILM.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.” 

Heder told The Huffington Post he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt “pressure” to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. FANS STILL FLOCK TO PRESTON, IDAHO TO TOUR THE MOVIE’S LOCATIONS.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. IDAHO ADOPTED A RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE FILMMAKERS.

Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. NAPOLEON WAS A DIFFERENT KIND OF NERD. 

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told The Huffington Post. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. THE TITLE SEQUENCE FEATURED SEVERAL DIFFERENT SETS OF HANDS.

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. THE MOVIE MESSED UP NETFLIX’S ALGORITHMS.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. NAPOLEON ACCIDENTLY GOT A BAD PERM.

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LAFAWNDUH’S REAL-LIFE FAMILY STARRED IN THE MOVIE.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A SHORT-LIVED ANIMATED SERIES ACTED AS A SEQUEL.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

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