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Around the world, behind most professional sports teams is a very very rich person.
According to Forbes, eight team owners have net worths of at least $15 billion. The only league with multiple representatives is the NBA, although the list ranges from the United States to professional baseball in Japan and cricket in India.
While some team owners have made their net worth through an organization, every featured individual has entered this lucrative game after accumulating fortunes elsewhere.
1 out of 8
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Net worth: $16.7 billion
David Tepper has been in the NFL for almost 13 years.
In 2009, he acquired a 5 percent stake in 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 made an offer to bring a Major League Soccer team to the area. The league awarded him an expansion club in December 2019 and Charlotte FC started playing in the 2022 MLS season.
2 out of 8
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Net worth: $17.4 billion
Since becoming majority owner of the New York Mets in 2020, Steve Cohen has made one thing clear: He’s not afraid to spend.
While the organization was often among the higher-paying teams in Major League Baseball, the Mets rose to No. 2 at the start of the 2022 season. They spent more than $250 million on free agency, notably bringing in star pitcher Max Scherzer and outfielder Starling Marte.
Cohen, who initially became a minority owner of the Mets in 2012, said SNY “will never be satisfied.”
So expect the hedge fund manager to use many more millions on the Mets.
3 out of 8
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Net Worth: $21.3 billion
Masayoshi Son took a gamble with the electronics, and the risk paid off quite a bit.
Throughout his life he has invested in well-known companies such as Alibaba, Sprint and Yahoo. Son is Chairman and CEO of SoftBank, which he founded in 1981 and eventually used to purchase 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 ownership.
4 out of 8
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
Net worth: $22 billion
For some, Dan Gilbert is perhaps best known for his angry letter in Comic Sans after LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010.
However, he is best known in the business world as the co-founder of Quicken Loans.
The success of the mortgage company then enabled Gilbert to purchase a controlling interest in 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 also bought two minor league teams: the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters and the NBA G League’s Canton (now Cleveland) Charge.
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David Geieregger/SEPA.Media/Getty Images
Net worth: $27.4 billion
Red Bull gave Dietrich Mateschitz financial wings.
The co-founder of the popular energy drink company has been involved in various car races and football leagues.
Red Bull Racing presents Formula 1 star Max Verstappen, who has earned the title in 2021. Mateschitz has also bought several football clubs including Austria’s RB Salzburg, Germany’s RB Leipzig and MLS club New York Red Bulls.
RB Salzburg’s transformation and RB Leipzig’s moneyed rise sparked frustration among fans that has turned into protests over the years. Nonetheless, both clubs – particularly RB Salzburg – have won top-flight trophies during Mateschitz’s tenure.
6 out of 8
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Net worth: $40.4 billion
Although he hasn’t run the companies for years, Francois Pinault is the founder of luxury brand Kering and holding company Groupe Artemis. The latter officially owns the French club Stade Rennais.
Pinault bought the team in 1998 and Rennes remained in the French top flight throughout his tenure.
Although the club is yet to win a Ligue 1 crown, Rennes overtook Paris Saint-Germain for the 2019 Coupe de France title. Rennes has played once in the Champions League and recently sealed a fourth Europa League appearance.
7 out of 8
Prodip Guha/Getty Images
Net worth: $90.7 billion
India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited. The company is active in many sectors, including gas, media, retail and telecommunications.
He has since invested in two sports as well.
Ambani bought the Indian Premier League (cricket) team Mumbai Indians in 2008 and formed the Indian Super League in 2013. He recently backed a joint venture with Paramount which also won digital IPL rights.
Along with the next owner, Ambani is considered one of the 10 richest people in the world by Forbes.
8 out of 8
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion.
However, it wasn’t his first attempt at owning an NBA franchise. Ballmer was involved in attempts to buy the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008 and the Sacramento Kings in 2013 before landing the Clippers.
Ballmer, who quickly gained a reputation for his delightfully intense outbursts in court, is a respected executive. This is no doubt the result of his willingness to spend on both payroll and team assets, including buying The Forum so the Clippers can build a new arena.
Despite not reaching an NBA Finals, the Clippers have remained a steadfast playoff contender.