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 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.
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 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
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
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
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 in April 2014 and have been playing ever since.
Nelly – Charlotte Bobcats
The whole hip-hop artist turned sports franchise owner trend came about in 2004. Nelly is one of the performers who were 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
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
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 shown 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
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
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
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.
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.
Serena and Venus Williams – Miami Dolphins
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
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
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
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
Funnyman 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.
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 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.
Geroge W. Bush Bought And Had Some Trouble With The Texas Rangers
After working on his father’s 1988 presidential campaign, Bush learned from a fellow Yale alumnus that their family friend Eddie Chiles was in the market to sell the Texas Rangers Baseball franchise. In 1989, Bush assembled a team of investors ranging from his father’s friends to his own fraternity brothers who bought 86% of the shares for $75 million.
However, after paying off a $500,000 bank loan after selling $848,000 worth of stock in a failing Harken Energy, there were allegations of insider trading. Eventually, after the smoke cleared, Bush sold his ownership of the Texas Rangers to Bob Simpson and Ray Davis.
Fergie Was A Minority Owner Of The Dolphins
In 2009, pop star Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas had no trouble becoming a part-owner of the Miami Dolphins. The NFL owners voted and approved her as the newest celebrity minority investor in the NFL franchise at the time.
Upon approval, she became one of a long line of celebrity investor of the Dolphins with other stars such as Marc Anthony, the Williams sisters, Jimmy Buffet, and Latin pop stars Emilio and Gloria Estefan. However, at the time, how big of a stake Fergie had in the team was not released and is still a minority owner of the team today.
David Letterman – Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Racing Team
In 1996, former talk show host David Letterman bought a decent share of the racing team Team Rahal after his longtime friend Bobby Rahal offered him to purchase some of the team. Over the years, the team eventually evolved into what is now known as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is an auto racing team that currently races in events such as the United SportsCar Championship, Global Rallycross Championship, and the IndyCar Series. Based out of Brownsburg, Indiana, and Hillard, Ohio, it is co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis champion Bobby Rahal, David Letterman, and businessman Mike Letterman.
Bob Hope – Cleveland Indians
Although Bob Hope was known for his golf game, he was also very interested in baseball, as recalled by Bob Feller. Starting in 1946, he became a partial owner of the Cleveland Indians as well as on the Board of Directors.
Having grown up on the east side of Cleveland, he had been a lifelong ambassador for the city and the Indians for an extended period of his life. At one point in his entertainment career, he appeared on an episode of I Love Lucy set during an Indians-Yankees game promoting the team. The team is now currently owned by Larry Dolan.
Tim McGraw – Nashville Kats
The Nashville Kats are an Arena Football League team from Nashville, Tennessee which began in 1997. While the majority of the team was owned by Bud Adams who also owns the Tennessee Titans, country music star Tim McGraw was invited to become a minority investor in 2004.
On Mcgraw joining the franchise, Bud Adams stated, “Tim is an avid football fan, and he is a suite holder for the Titans. His love for the sport makes it a natural fit for him and this organization”. As a nod to Tim McGraw, the PA system used to play his hit song “I Like It, I Love It” following after every Kats touchdown.
John Candy Was Co-Owners Of The Toronto Argonauts
The Toronto Argonauts are a professional Canadian football team that competes in the East Division of the Canadian Football League. In 1991, Hollywood stars took ownership of the team. Bruce Mcnall, one of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings owners bought the team and appointed one of his players Wayne Gretzky as a minority owner as well as actor and comedian John Candy.
They went on to sign Raghib “Rocket” Ismail for $18.2 million over four years, which was an unheard of amount of money to sign a player at the time but paid off in the end. Unfortunately, Candy passed away of a heart attack in 1994.
Ted Turner – Atlanta Braves
Ted Turner is an American media mogul and philanthropist. He is best-known a the founder of the Cable News Network (CNN), which was the first 24-hour cable news channel. Turner became the owner of the Atlanta Braves in 1976 and was known to be a very hands-on owner. He turned the team into a nationally popular franchise used it to create the Goodwill Games.
However, by the 1980s, Turner began to leave the basic operations of the team to the operations staff instead of handling it himself. however, the Braves won a World Series Championship while still under Turner’s ownership. The team was eventually sold to Liberty Media in 2007, which still hold ownership today.
Gene Autry Owned The Angels Before They Moved To Anaheim
Gene Autry was an American singer-songwriter, actor, musician, and business owner. He was best-known for his act as a singing cowboy on the radio, television, and in movies. He was also the owner of a television station, several Southern California radio stations, and the Los Angeles/Anaheim Angels major league Baseball Team from 1961 to 1997.
He purchased the rights to the expansion of the team for $350,000 in 1960 and was described as being incredibly competitive, but also one of the most generous owners in baseball. Although he spent millions on star players over the years, the team won their first division championship in 1981. The number 26 was retired after his death in his honor.
Magic Johnson Isn’t Done With Sports
Magic Johnson is still regarded as one of the greatest basketball players to have ever stepped on the court. Coming out of Michigan State, he helped his team win the 1979 NCAA Championship and was picked up by the Lakers the very same year.
After his incredibly successful basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers winning five NBA championships and playing on the Olympic Dream Team, he decided he wasn’t quite done with sports yet. Now, he is one of the biggest of the group of investors that now own the (MLB) Los Angeles Dodgers and the (WNBA) Los Angeles Sparks. In 2017, he was also announced as the newest ownership advisor.
Michael Jordan – Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Jordan is yet another basketball player that many refer to as one of the greats. He left a huge mark on the sport of basketball, and won the MVP award five times as well as helped the Chicago Bulls win six championships.
Yet, in 2006, Jordan became a part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats who is now the Hornets, yet managed to gain controlling interests in 2010. After his successful basketball career, his other businesses, and his ownership of the Hornets, he is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.
Jimmy Buffett – Miami Dolphins
In 2009, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett became a part of the Miami Dolphins after accepting a business role with the Dolphin’s owner and longtime friend Stephen Ross. There were rumors that the Dolphin’s Stadium might be renamed “Landshark Stadium” after Buffet’s Landshark Lager, brewed by Anheuser-Busch.
It had been a long time since the stadium had a corporate sponsor, so Ross felt that Buffett would have been a great asset to the entire franchise. Buffett even went on to perform a song inspired by the Dolphins after the unveiling of the new logo for the stadium.
Ron Jaworski – Philadelphia Soul
Rob Jaworski had a 17-year-long career as a successful NFL quarterback. Now, he has a multiplatform NFL analyst role that has appearances on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, NFL Matchup, NFL-branded specials, and many other platforms throughout the year.
Aside from his career as a football analyst, he is also the owner of a business development company called Business Clubs America, and of four Signature Golf Courses. In addition, he is also the owner of the Maxwell Football Club, co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, and sits on the boards of PNC Bank and NFL Alumni Association.
Shaquille O’Neal – Sacramento Kings
During the process of rebranding the Sacramento Kings NBA team in 2013, ex-professional basketball player Shaquille O’Neal came on board as a minority owner. On being a minority owner, O’Neil stated that “What interested me in this deal is the new vision, the new Kings, the new everything…I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this. It’s going to be great”.
This is definitely a different attitude towards the Kings than he used to have as a professional player as he used to refer to them as the “Queens”. But this is a new O’Neil and he has his money, literally, on the Kings.
Gretzky Was Involved In Multiple Teams
Wayne Gretzky has either owned or partnered in the ownership of multiple sports teams of the past few decades. In 1985, he bought the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for $175,000 and eventually sold it for $550,000.
Then, in 1991, he purchased the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League with Bruce McNall and John Candy. In May 2000, he also agreed to but a 10% stake in the Phoenix Coyotes with majority owner Steve Ellman until the team eventually declared Bankruptcy in 2009.
David Beckham – Miami MLS Team
The Miami MLS is a proposed professional soccer team to be based in Miami, Florida. The team is scheduled to join the Major League Soccer and is pending negotiations over the location of the stadium and financing.
The ownership group is known as Miami Beckham United which is managed by David Beckham and his business partner Simon Fuller, and Miami-based Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure. Masayoshi Son and Jorge and Jose mas were also added in 2017. The team is part of an MLS expansion from 20 teams to 24 by 2020. On January 29, 2018, the MLS officially awarded Beckham and the rest of the ownership group their expansion team.
Oscar De La Hoya
Oscar De La Hoya is a former professional boxer who competed from 1992 to 2008. He was nicknamed “The Golden Boy” and won a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics after graduating from high school. He was named the Fighter of the year by The Ring Magazine, in 1995, and was their top-rated fighter in the world pound for pound in 1997 and 1998.
In 2002, he went on to found Golden Boy Productions, a combat sport professional firm. Along with his other ventures, in 2008, his company Golden Boy acquired a 25% stake in the Major League Soccer team the Hoston Dynamo along with Brener International Group.
Yao Ming – Shanghai Sharks
Yao Ming is a retired former professional basketball player that played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, and the Houston Rockets for the NBA. During his final season, he was the tallest player in the NBA and is the only player outside of the United States to lead the NBA in All-Star voting.
On July 16, 2009, he bought his old teenage team the Shanghai Sharks because they were not going to be able to play the next season because of their financial struggles, essentially saving the team.
Nolan Ryan – Texas Rangers
Nolan Ryan is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who pitched for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. After his successful professional baseball career, he went on to purchase the Texas Rangers along with Chuck Greenburg in 2010, where he also became CEO.
Although Texas oil financiers Ray Davis and Bob Simpson serve as chairman and hold higher stakes, Ryan is still the head of the entire franchise, with Davis and Simpson as senior advisors. In 2013, he stepped down as Rangers CEO, and in 2014 accepted a position as a special assistant to Astros owners Jim Crane.
Warrick Dunn – Atlanta Falcons
Warrick Dunn was an American football running back that played for the National Football League for 12 seasons. He was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12th in the 1997 NFL Draft.
In 2002, he went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons and released him in 2008 upon his request. He then went on to play for the Buccaneers for a second time until he retired in 2009. Then, on December 17, 2009, he ended up becoming a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons after retiring in 2008.
Mario Lemieux – Pittsburgh Penguins
Mario Lemieux was a retired professional ice hockey player. He played 17 seasons from 1984 to 2006. He’s acknowledged as being one of the best ice hockey players of all time while playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He led the Penguins to consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
Then, after he retired, he bought and has owned the Pittsburgh Penguins since 1999. Under his ownership, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup three times in 2009, 2016, and 2017. he is the only person to have won the Cup both as a player and as an owner. He still owns the Penguins today.