Wealthiest NFL Owners

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Admit it, you’re likely envious of the wealthiest NFL owners and all the trappings that come with being a member of this select group.

Not only are these men rich, they have influence and power inside the NFL and the business world that few of us will ever experience.

But being rich doesn’t necessarily translate to success on the field.

Take Jerry Jones for example.

Jones is #6 on our list of wealthiest NFL owners and had success early in his tenure, yet his Dallas Cowboys have fallen into a rut of mediocrity under his guidance as owner/GM over the past two decades.

These fourteen owners are all members of Forbes’ Richest 400 Americans list, but you may be surprised how many have yet to obtain success on the gridiron:

#14 — Tom Benson (New Orleans Saints, $1.3 billion)

A New Orleans native, Tom Benson is a self-made billionaire who started out as part owner of a car dealership in San Antonio, Texas in the late 1950s. He later became owner of several dealerships in the San Antonio and New Orleans areas.

Benson became wealthy using profits from his dealerships to purchase small banks in the New Orleans area; eventually forming Benson Financial which he sold in 1996.

Tom Benson has owned the Saints since 1985 and the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats since 2012.

His Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. He is one of the eight men on the wealthiest NFL owners list to win the Super Bowl.

#13 — William Ford Sr. (Detroit Lions, $1.4 billion)

As the last surviving grandchild of automobile pioneer Henry Ford, William serves as owner and president of his hometown Lions.

Following his graduation in 1949 from Yale University with a degree in Economics, William went to work in the family business at Ford Motor Company. He sat on the Board of Directors for 57 years until retiring in 2005.

Ford purchased a controlling share of the Lions in 1963 and ranks thirteenth on the NFL wealthiest owners list.

#12 — Jimmy Haslam (Cleveland Browns, $1.45 billion)

This Knoxville, Tennessee native made his fortune as the majority owner and CEO of the Pilot Flying J; a truck stop chain created by his father Jim in 1958.

While at the University of Tennessee, Jimmy joined Pilot’s board of directors and recently resumed his role as CEO after relinquishing the role in the fall of 2013.

A minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2008, Haslam was required to sell his interest in the Steelers after purchasing the Cleveland Browns in 2012.

#11 — Jim Irsay (Indianapolis Colts, $1.6 billion)

Jim’s father Robert purchased the Baltimore Colts in 1972 when Jim was 13 years old and moved the franchise to Indianapolis, Indiana in a controversial move in 1984.

After graduating from SMU with a degree in broadcast journalism, Irsay began working for the Colts and officially took over as the team’s general manager at age 24, the youngest to ever hold that position.

Following his father’s death in 1997, Jim took over full ownership of the Indianapolis Colts.

Under Jim Irsay’s leadership the Colts won Super Bowl XLI in 2006, our second owner on our list of NFL wealthiest owners to win at least one Super Bowl.

#10 — Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons, $1.7 billion)

Arthur Blank made his fortune as co-founder of Home Depot in 1978. A graduate of Babson College, Blank began his career as a senior accountant and rose to become vice president of finance at Handy Dan Home Improvement Centers.

Fired from Handy Dan in 1978 as a result of a power struggle within the company. That same year, he and the former CEO of Handy Dan, Bernard Marcus, formed Home Depot.

Blank spent 19 years as Home Depot’s president before taking over for Marcus in 1997 as CEO. He retired from the company in 2001.

In 2002, Arthur Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons for an estimated $545 million from the Smith family. Worth an estimated $1.7 billion, Blank ranks tenth among the wealthiest NFL owners.

#9 — Bob McNair (Houston Texans, $2 billion)

Bob McNair moved to Houston in 1960 from his hometown of Forest City, North Carolina after graduating from South Carolina in 1958.

McNair founded Cogen Technologies and sold what was then the largest privately held power company in the U.S. to Enron before its collapse for $1.5 billion in 1999.

Intent on bringing professional football back to Houston, McNair formed Houston NFL Holdings in 1998; successfully securing an NFL franchise in the fall of 1999.

Bob McNair is the only member of the wealthiest NFL owners list to serve as the franchise’s original owner.

#8 — Stephen Bisciotti (Baltimore Ravens, $2.1 billion)

Born in Philadelphia, the Bisciotti family moved to Baltiimore, Maryland when Steve was a toddler. After graduating from Salisbury (MD) State University, Steve and his cousin formed the temporary employment agency Aerotek.

Aerotek eventually grew into Allegis Group, which is the largest staffing company in the country.

In 2000, Steve purchased a minority stake in the Baltimore Ravens and in 2004 he acquired the remaining 51% of the club from Art Modell.

In 2012, Bisciotti’s Ravens captured the team’s second Super Bowl championship and first under his ownership. Bisciotti is the third member in the group of NFL wealthiest owners to have one a Super Bowl.  

#7 — Robert Kraft (New England Patriots, $2.9 billion)

Robert Kraft is a lifelong Brookline, Massachusetts resident who made his fortune in the paper and packaging industry. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Kraft went to work for his father-in-law’s packing company.

A Patriots fan since the team’s AFL days, Kraft ‘s pursuit of ownership began in 1985 when he purchased an option on the land surrounding Foxboro Stadium. After purchasing Foxboro out of bankruptcy in 1988, Kraft bought the Patriots six years later for $175 million.

Winners of Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX, the New England Patriots are arguably the most successful NFL franchise of the new millennium.

Worth an estimated $2.9 billion, Robert Kraft is seventh on the list of NFL wealthiest owners and one of the eight owners to have captured a Super Bowl trophy.

#6 — Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys, $3 billion)

Jerry Jones is arguably the most high-profile member of the wealthiest NFL owners list. An All-Southwest Conference offensive lineman at Arkansas, Jones made his fortune in oil and gas exploration.

Prior to expanding his oil business, Jones had an opportunity to purchase the American Football League’s San Diego Chargers in 1966 but couldn’t come up with financing.

In 1989, Jones jumped at the chance to purchase the Dallas Cowboys from H.R.“Bum” Bright for $160 million.

With three Super Bowl trophies, Jerry Jones is one of the most successful of the wealthiest NFL owners. However, his critics (myself included) believe he would have even greater success if he handed over the general manager duties.

Jones is tied with Robert Kraft on the NFL wealthiest owners list with the most Super Bowl wins.

#5 — Shahid Khan (Jacksonville Jaguars, $3.8 billion)

Shahid Khan purchased the Jaguars in 2012 from Wayne Weaver for an estimated $760 million after losing out on his bid to acquire the St. Louis Rams two years earlier.

Born in Pakistan, Khan immigrated to the United States in 1968 at the age of 16 to study at the University of Illinois where he obtained his degree in Industrial Engineering.

While at Illinois, Khan worked at the automotive manufacturing company Flex-N-Gate and became the company’s Director of Engineering after graduation. He later started Bumper Works and purchased Flex-N-Gate; combining the two companies into a $3 billion bumper supplier for the Big Three and Toyota.

Shahid Khan is the only Muslim on the wealthiest NFL owners list.

#4 — Malcolm Glazer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $4.5 billion)

A Rochester, New York native, Malcolm Glazer is the only NFL owner on our list that did not attend college.

Glazer purchased the Buccaneers in 1995 for $192 million, which is now worth over $1 billion.

Not a bad investment.

Malcolm inherited the family’s watch business when he was just 15 and in the 1970s, invested in trailer parks while developing a real estate venture that became First Allied Corporation.

The Glazer family also purchased the soccer club Manchester United in 2005, the third-richest in the world. With an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion, Malcolm Glazer ranks forth on the NFL wealthiest owners list.

#3 — Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins, $4.8 billion)

Stephen Ross comes in at No. 3 on the wealthiest owners list after beginning his career as a tax attorney before getting into real estate. He started out purchasing affordable housing then selling the projects to wealthy investors as tax shelters.

In 1972, Ross formed a global real estate firm called The Related Companies and is a major benefactor to his alma mater, the University of Michigan donating an estimated $313 million to-date.

In 2008, Stephen Ross purchased a 50 percent share of the Miami Dolphins and increased his share to 95 percent the following year. 

#2 — Stan Kroenke (St. Louis Rams, $5.3 billion)

This Columbia, MO native, like many on the wealthiest NFL owners list, got his start in real estate. In 1973, he married the daughter of Walmart co-founder Bud Walton and a decade later formed the Kroenke Group, a real estate development that built apartment buildings and shopping centers.

Following the death of Bud Walton in 1995, Stan and his wife Ann inherited a portion of the Walmart department store empire that is estimated to be worth $6 billion.

After the Rams relocated to Missouri in 1995, Kroenke purchased 40 percent of the team. In 2000, he became the full owner of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. A decade later, Stan Kroenke became the full owner of the St. Louis Rams.

In early 2014 Kroenke purchased a 60-acre parcel of land in Inglewood, CA, which has led to speculation that the Rams might relocate to Los Angeles after the team’s lease with the Edward Jones Dome expires in 2014. 

#1 — Paul Allen (Seattle Seahawks, $15 billion)

A Seattle native, Paul Allen became friends with Bill Gates in middle school due to their common interest in computers. After dropping out of Washington State University to work as a programmer for Honeywell, Allen convinced his old pal to drop out of Harvard to form Microsoft in 1975.

Allen left Microsoft in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and formed Vulcan Ventures in 1986 which led to the company purchasing the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers.

Although Paul Allen has not been involved with Microsoft since 2000, he is believe to still own an estimated 138 million shares of company stock. 

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