More Than A Fan: Celebrities Who Own Sports Franchises

Many people dream of owning a sports team or franchise in their lifetime, but few actually achieve this. Once these celebrities built their fortunes, they decided to go ahead and make that dream come true. Here’s a look at the lucky celebrities who own a sports franchise.

Paul Newman – Newman-Haas Racing

Paul Newman – Newman-Haas Racing

Paul Newman is a man of many interests, which then carries over into his professional life as an actor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. He probably had an interest in racing cars before he became an actor, but it came out as he was working on a film in 1969 called Winning. He went through the motions because of his interest and he eventually began driving race cars.

Many people may not know this about Paul Newman, but he became a successful driver and even competed in the amateur and professional racing circuits. This led him to purchase a team known as Newman-Haas racing with Carl Haas in 1983. The team has won eight series championships.

Bill Murray – St. Paul Saints

Bill Murray – St. Paul Saints

Not only has Bill Murray had a solid career in acting, he’s found success investing in sports as well. Although Murray is a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, having been born in Illinois, it’s the St. Paul Saints baseball team in Minnesota that he is a minority owner of. The St. Paul Saints are associated with the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.

Although one of his many homes isn’t in Minnesota, Murray often travels to see the games and is very active in their operations. He has served as a first base coach, and endorsed selling programs. Strangely enough, he has also served as the team psychologist.

Burt Reynolds – USFL Tampa Bay Bandits, NASCAR Winston Cup Team

Burt Reynolds – USFL Tampa Bay Bandits, NASCAR Winston Cup Team

Burt Reynolds was riding a wave in the late ’70s and early ’80s as his acting career became wildly successful. While Burt Reynolds was an A-lister around Hollywood, he took an interest in a minor league football team. He had a stake in the United States Football League’s Tampa Bay Bandits in 1982.

The bandit name should sound familiar as it relates to Burt Reynolds. The inspiration for the team’s name came from a movie that Burt Reynolds played in known as Smokey and the Bandit. This was a very hot movie in its time period. The USFL did not stay around long and it folded three years later. Reynolds also co-owned a NASCAR Winston Cup team.

Drew Carey – MLS Seattle Sounders

Drew Carey – MLS Seattle Sounders

Drew Carey keeps himself busy as a multi-tasker in the entertainment industry. He is able to fall back on his first love, and he is also able to hold his own as the host of The Price is Right. Although he hails from the city of Cleveland, Carey is the minority owner of a Major League Soccer expansion team known as the Seattle Sounders. Carey became the minority owner of the Sounders in 2007. Other owners include Adrian Hanauer, a Seattle businessman, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Carey is also known for his talent in bowling, having appeared in several celebrity events. Owning a bowling team doesn’t sound quite as exciting, however.

Gloria Estefan – Miami Dolphins

Gloria Estefan – Miami Dolphins

Miami hometown native Gloria Estefan along with her husband Emilio purchased a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins back in 2009. Miami Dolphins chairman Stephen Ross would not discuss the price that Estefan and her husband paid for the stake, as he went on record as saying, “It is a private company and we will keep those things private but Emilio is a partner and Gloria is a partner.”

Gloria Estefan has said that she had been a fan of the Miami Dolphins since 1972. The Miami Dolphins were undefeated that year, and she has been a proud Dolphin fan ever since. Stephen Ross explains the importance of the purchase, “There is no community in America that has the diversity of South Florida and we want the team to be a part of South Florida, and the best way to do that is to have an ownership which reflects that diversity.”

Jay-Z Once Had a Stake in the Brooklyn Nets

Jay-Z Once Had a Stake in the Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn native Jay-Z, also known as Shawn Carter, is constantly in the spotlight for his musical talent and his famous family. He has a family that is bursting with talent as he is the husband of Beyonce. Jay-Z is also a successful businessman, as an owner of a clothing line, sports bar, entertainment company, sports agency and beyond.

In 2004, Jay-Z got together with a developer from Brooklyn named Bruce Ratner and their group bought the New Jersey Nets for a whopping $300 million. (Carter paid $4.5 million for his share.) However, in 2013 he had to sell off his share of the team, as it conflicted with interests representing athletes with his sports agency,

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons – The LA Kiss

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons – The LA Kiss

Musicians Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons may or may not rock and roll all night and party every day as of late, but they have ditched the face paint and put on their business face when it came to owning an expansion Arena Football League team called the Los Angeles KISS. Some may call it ego, but others would call it good business.

KISS set themselves apart from other rock groups in the ’70s due to their outfits, especially their famous face paint. And wisely, they have used their legendary status in the business world. The LA KISS played their first game on April 2014 and have been playing ever since.

Nelly – Charlotte Bobcats

Nelly – Charlotte Bobcats

The whole hip-hop artist turned sports franchise owner trend came about in 2004. Nelly is one of the performers who was apart of this trend. Nelly joined the Bobcats Basketball Holdings ownership group back in 2004 and purchased a stake in the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) soon after Jay-Z purchased the New Jersey Nets. Around the time Nelly purchased a stake of the Bobcats team, he was one of the biggest names in the hip-hop world. It is said that he would have wanted to have some ownership of a St. Louis NBA team but there are no teams from St. Louis. In 2010, Nelly gave up ownership when the Bobcats Basketball Holdings was purchased by NBA Legend Michael Jordan. He’s now said to be in a load of debt, owing the IRS over $2 million in back taxes.

Will and Jada-Pinkett-Smith – Philadelphia 76ers

Will and Jada-Pinkett-Smith – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were perhaps the most popular basketball team of the late ’70s. Julius Earvin was possibly the hottest thing since sliced bread, and he was just as popular as Lebron James is today. Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Will Smith grew up during this time period watching the 76ers play.

His love of the 76ers is what probably lead Will Smith and his wife to want to buy a stake in the team in the first place. Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith bought a minority stake in the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.

Justin Timberlake – Memphis Grizzlies

Justin Timberlake – Memphis Grizzlies

With Justin Timberlake having been born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, he is a life-long fan of the Memphis Grizzlies. The successful artist and his actress wife Jessica Biel are routinely seen courtside at games. He has even gotten on the court and provided entertainment for the grizzlies crowd. Timberlake danced with the Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas at one game.

In 2012, Justin Timberlake became a proud minority owner of the Grizzlies. and has since showed his support even more. He’s even prone to shutting down haters on Twitter who call him a bandwagon fan.

Will Ferrell – Los Angeles Football Club

Will Ferrell – Los Angeles Football Club

Comedian Will Ferrell laughs all the way to the bank as he announced in 2016 that he is one of the owners of the upcoming MLS franchise known as the Los Angeles Football Club. Along with Will Ferrell being an owner, there are 26 other people who have ownership of the Los Angeles Football Club that will premiere in 2018. Other noteworthy owners include soccer legend Mia Hamm and her husband Nomar Garciaparra, along with NBA legend Magic Johnson.

In a press conference, Ferrell said, “LA Galaxy has done so much for soccer in Southern California. For MLS they’re kind of the club to emulate but I think right away I just know that there’s such an attraction to playing here in Los Angeles and that there’s a really good chance we could be fairly competitive right out of the gate.”

Usher – Cleveland Cavaliers

Usher – Cleveland Cavaliers

In 2005, R&B singer Usher joined investors in order to purchase the Cleveland Cavaliers as a joint venture. The investment group was headed by Dan Gilbert, who is the chairman and founder of Quicken Loans. Together he and Usher purchased the Cleveland Cavaliers for $375 million. Afterward, the money began rolling in, as the Cleveland Cavaliers are perhaps the hottest NBA commodity today, with none other than Lebron James.

With yet another artists on the list of sports franchise owners, it’s clear to see that the saying that ‘rappers want to be ballers, and ballers want to be rappers’ rings true. And if you can’t be a professional baller, buying a team is the next best thing.

Russell Crowe – South Sydney Rabbitohs

Russell Crowe – South Sydney Rabbitohs

Here’s one sports franchise purchase by a celebrity that they may have come to regret. Russell Crowe, along with his business partner Peter Holmes, bought a struggling National Rugby team known as the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2006. The purchasing price for the team was $3 million, and Crowe was determined to turn the team’s losing streak around. That backfired in 2007, however, when the franchise lost $4.2 million. The team then came in last place in 2008. Although the Rabbitohs won a premiership in 2014, they’re far from a winning team.

Serena and Venus Williams – Miami Dolphins

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Can anyone explain what is going on in Miami? Have you noticed something that has been a recurring theme so far? Anyways, Serena and Venus Williams are legends when it comes to tennis. They have been dominating the game for nearly 20 years and people have been following their successes throughout their career.

In this case, we have athletes claiming a stake in another sport. The Williams sisters decided to become limited owners of the Miami Dolphins football team in 2009. People may wonder why they became limited owners. Their answer is simple. Venus told ESPN, “We’re South Florida girls. When we get off the road, this is where we come home to. When we come home to Dolphins games, it’s going to be exciting.”

Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez – Miami Dolphins

Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez – Miami Dolphins

Okay, here we go again. How many celebrities have an ownership stake in the Miami Dolphins? There are a lot of them. In fact, there are more celebrities that have ownership in the Miami Dolphins than any other sports franchise. Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez just happen to be on the list of the owners of the Miami Dolphins, joining the franchise in 2009.

Since their split, Marc Anthony still retains his part of the ownership with the Dolphins, but J-Lo has opted out. Marc Anthony expressed his interest in the team to People: “I’m a huge sports fan. These opportunities don’t come around too often. It’s quite an honor and a privilege to be able to sit here today saying that I’m a part-owner of an NFL team.”

Nick Lachey – Tacoma Rainers

Nick Lachey – Tacoma Rainers

To his fans, it’s no secret that artist Nick Lachey is a fan of baseball. He’s such a big fan that he couldn’t just sit in the stands- he had to have a piece of the action. He made an unsuccessful attempt at becoming a partial owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team in the early 2000s. Then in 2006, Lachey tried his luck with the Tacoma Rainiers and it worked.

Lachey now owns a third of the Rainiers, the Triple A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners in Washington State. He says that his time as a performer takes away from his second love, baseball. “It’s difficult for me not being a local owner, with living out of state and being busy. I don’t make it around as much I’d like to. I’ve just tried to be a supportive voice for this team, and hopefully, we’ve brought some good publicity to the area.”

Michelle Williams – Chicago Sky

Michelle Williams – Chicago Sky

Former Destiny’s Child artist Michelle Williams may not be nearly as big of a star as Beyonce, but that doesn’t mean she’s not achieving dreams of her own. In 2006, the R&B artist announced that she purchased a minority stake in the WNBA Chicago Sky basketball team, in her home state of Illinois.

She said, “It’s great to be part of an organization such as the WNBA that is not only exciting and fun, but fosters a strong sense of empowerment in girls and women. I’m looking forward to being in the front row at Chicago Sky games and cheering them on to many championship seasons.”

Bill Maher – New York Mets

Bill Maher – New York Mets

Funny man and political commentator Bill Maher is known for many things, but he is probably least known for owning a stake in the New York Mets baseball team. In June of 2012, Bill Maher purchased a minority stake in the New York Mets. Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Maher most likely grew up as a fan of the Mets, but chose to buy the team because he said, “I think it’s a great investment.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Maher jokes that he tried to convince friend and fellow Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld to join him in purchasing the team, stating, “he sure has more money than I do.”

Elton John – Watford F.C.

Elton John – Watford F.C.

If you think Elton John has suddenly vanished from the face of the earth, then think again. As far as many people are concerned, Elton John is “still standing.” Elton John became well known because of his stylish apparel and singing. He also owns a stake in the Watford Football Club in England.

Elton John is the “president for life” of the Watford F.C. He told The Watford Observer that the times have changed and going to football games is not the same anymore. “I don’t like crowds,” he said. “It is not so comfortable going to matches as it was back in our day, back in the 1970s. People are different and they have these mobile phones and their cameras. They didn’t have them years back, so it is different. You are having your photo taken all the time. It is not so easy to relax and just concentrate on a game.”

Jon Bon Jovi – Philadelphia Soul

Jon Bon Jovi – Philadelphia Soul

Jon Bon Jovi is a well-known rock musician who is apparently has a passion for arena football. Bon Jovi reportedly paid $8 million to cover some of the start-up costs for American Football League’s Philadelphia Soul in 2004. Known as the ‘Jon Bon Jovi era’, the investment in the Philadelphia Soul soon paid off as the Soul won a league championship just four years after he purchased a stake in the team. He said of the team, “My job’s to get them in the door, then let these guys be celebrities in their own right.”

After 2008, the team was put on hold as the Arena Football League suspended operations. The team returned to the revived league in 2011 but Bon Jovi’s consortium was outbid and he lost ownership.