Forbes released its list of the 400 richest people in America on Monday, and while Microsoft founder Bill Gates topped the list for the 20th consecutive year, it has a decidedly sports-heavy flavor with 32 professional sports team owners making the cut.
Not surprisingly, the NFL made the biggest impact on the list, with the country's richest sports league placing 14 owners on Forbes' list. Microsoft co-founder and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen paces the NFL with a net worth of $15.8 billion, but he also represents the NBA as owner of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Other notable names include Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at $3 billion and $2.9 billion, respectively.
Jones is easily the most high-profile owner in the NFL today, and he has put a considerable amount of his wealth into the team. Jones sold the naming rights to the Cowboys' stadium to AT&T, and he has plenty of ambition with regards to making AT&T Stadium an iconic venue. According to ESPN.com, Jones "wants his $1.2 billion showplace to be a building 'more familiar than the White House.'"
Kraft isn't very far behind Jones in terms of presence, and he has certainly had a great deal of success over the years. The Patriots are considered by many to be the NFL's model franchise, and that type of environment is very important to Kraft, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, who quoted the owner as saying:
I think people in America today, it’s not just about money. They want to be connected to something they feel is special and when they get up every day, they look forward to coming to work. We try to create an environment here that does that. We’re not always successful, but we give it our best shot.
In addition to the NFL, the NBA made a big splash with 12 owners among the top 400. Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos leads the field in terms of sole NBA owners at $6.8 billion. Miami Heat owner and Carnival Cruise chairman Micky Arison checks in as the second-richest NBA owner at $5.9 billion.
The NHL and MLB aren't quite as present, but Colorado Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris made the cut, as did Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry.
Despite the fact that it is an English professional sports league, the Premier League plays a significant role as well, with several American owners making the list.
It doesn't necessarily come as a surprise that so many sports owners are on the list due to the popularity of professional sports in the United States. It does validate the current state of the sporting world, however.
With that in mind, professional sports owners will continue to get richer, and these types of lists should feature even more sports-related people in the future.
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