The Richest Owners in Professional Sports

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVJune 25, 2022

The Richest Owners in Professional Sports

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    Will Navarro/NBAE via Getty Images

    All around the globe, behind most professional sports teams is a very, very rich person.

    According to Forbes, eight team owners have a net worth of at least $15 billion. The lone league with multiple representatives is the NBA, though the list spans from the United States to professional baseball in Japan and cricket in India.

    While some team owners have generated their net worth through an organization, each person highlighted has entered this lucrative game after amassing riches elsewhere.

8. David Tepper

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Net Worth: $16.7 billion

    David Tepper has been around the NFL for nearly 13 years.

    In 2009, he purchased a 5 percent share of the Pittsburgh Steelers. About a decade later, the hedge fund manager bought the Carolina Panthers for $2.2 billion.

    And that's no longer his only professional team.

    Shortly after the acquisition, Tepper placed a bid to bring a Major League Soccer team to the area. The league awarded him an expansion club in December 2019, and Charlotte FC began play in the 2022 MLS season.

7. Steve Cohen

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Net Worth: $17.4 billion

    Since becoming the majority owner of the New York Mets in 2020, Steve Cohen has made one thing abundantly clear: He isn't afraid to spend.

    While the organization has often ranked among the higher-payroll teams in Major League Baseball, the Mets vaulted to No. 2 by the start of the 2022 season. They spent more than $250 million in free agency, most notably bringing in star pitcher Max Scherzer and outfielder Starling Marte.

    Cohen, who initially became a minority owner of the Mets in 2012, told SNY "will never feel satisfied."

    As a result, expect to see the hedge fund manager use many more millions on the Mets.

6. Masayoshi Son

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    Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Net Worth: $21.3 billion

    Masayoshi Son took a gamble on electronics, and the risks have paid off rather handsomely.

    Throughout his life, he's invested in notable companies such as Alibaba, Sprint and Yahoo. Son is the chairman and CEO of SoftBank, which he founded in 1981 and ultimately used to buy a Nippon Professional Baseball team in 2005.

    Formerly the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, the SoftBank Hawks have since won seven Japan Series and six Pacific League championships while under Son's ownership.

5. Dan Gilbert

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    David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

    Net Worth: $22 billion

    To some, Dan Gilbert may be most recognizable for his angry letter written in Comic Sans font after LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010.

    Around the business world, however, he's known for being a co-founder of Quicken Loans.

    The success of the mortgage lending company then allowed Gilbert to purchase a majority stake of the Cavaliers in 2005. Cleveland has since won six division titles and appeared in five NBA Finals, winning once—all on LeBron-led teams.

    Gilbert has also purchased two minor league teams: the AHL's Cleveland Monsters and NBA G League's Canton (now Cleveland) Charge.

4. Dietrich Mateschitz

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    David Geieregger/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

    Net Worth: $27.4 billion

    Red Bull gave Dietrich Mateschitz some financial wings.

    The co-founder of the popular energy drink company has been involved in various auto racing and soccer leagues.

    Red Bull Racing features Formula 1 star Max Verstappen, who earned the 2021 title. Mateschitz has also purchased several soccer clubs, which includes Austria's RB Salzburg, Germany's RB Leipzig and MLS side New York Red Bulls.

    The makeover of RB Salzburg and cash-infused rise of RB Leipzig both sparked fan frustration, which has played out in protests throughout the years. Still, both clubs—particularly RB Salzburg—have won top-flight trophies in Mateschitz's tenure.

3. Francois Pinault

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    Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

    Net Worth: $40.4 billion

    While he hasn't managed the companies for years, Francois Pinault is the founder of luxury brand Kering and holding company Groupe Artemis. The latter officially owns French club Stade Rennais.

    Pinault purchased the team in 1998, and Rennes has stayed in the French top flight throughout his ownership.

    Although the club hasn't won a Ligue 1 crown, Rennes outlasted Paris Saint-Germain for the 2019 Coupe de France title. Rennes has played in the Champions League once and recently sealed a fourth appearance in the Europa League.

2. Mukesh Ambani

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    Prodip Guha/Getty Images

    Net Worth: $90.7 billion

    The richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani is the chairman of Reliance Industries Limited. The company has businesses in many areas, including gas, media, retail and telecommunications.

    Meanwhile, he's also invested in two sports.

    Ambani purchased Indian Premier League (cricket) team Mumbai Indians in 2008 and founded the Indian Super League in 2013. He recently backed a joint venture with Paramount that won IPL digital rights too.

    Along with the next owner, Ambani is considered one of Forbes' 10 richest people in the world.

1. Steve Ballmer

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

    The former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in 2014.

    However, it wasn't his first attempt at owning an NBA franchise. Ballmer had been involved in attempts to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008 and Sacramento Kings in 2013 before landing the Clippers.

    Ballmer, who quickly made a reputation for his delightfully intense court-side outbursts, is a well-regarded executive. It's undoubtedly the result of his willingness to spend both on payroll and team assets, including the purchase of The Forum so the Clippers can build a new arena.

    Though the Clippers haven't reached an NBA Finals, they've remained a perennial playoff contender.


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