Chargers Founding Owner Barron Hilton Dies at Age 91

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2019

Barron Hilton (right) in 1977.
Barron Hilton (right) in 1977.Nick Ut/Associated Press

Los Angeles Chargers founding owner Barron Hilton died of natural causes Thursday. He was 91.

Dean Spanos, the Chargers' current owner, released a statement about Hilton's death:

Los Angeles Chargers @Chargers

Statement on the passing of founding Chargers owner Barron Hilton https://t.co/ZmRqjj6NRQ

Hilton took over as chairman of the Hilton Hotels Corporation from his father, Conrad Hilton, and helped it develop into a multinational powerhouse now called Hilton Worldwide Holdings. Forbes estimated his net worth at $2.5 billion and noted he pledged 97 percent of that wealth to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

From the foundation's website: "We provide funds to nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage throughout the world."

The Dallas native founded the Chargers as a member of the American Football League in 1959, and the franchise began play in 1960. The team spent just one season in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego, where it would spend 55 years before returning to L.A. in 2017.

Although it was speculated he picked the team's nickname because of a credit card company he owned, Carte Blanche, he provided the actual reasoning in a 2009 interview with Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times.

"It was after the trumpet call, followed by the roar of 'Charge,'" Hilton said. "It never had a thing to do with the credit card."

He added, "The happiest days of my life were the days I was involved with the Chargers."

Hilton sold the team to Eugene Klein for $10 million in 1966, the same year of the AFL-NFL merger, in order to handle the family business full time.