Mental Floss) -- Owning a professional sports franchise is my dream job. (I'm willing to relocate.) Of course, I could never afford my own team. There's a better chance I'll miraculously develop an unhittable slider, or learn to punt.
NFL team owner Robert Kraft got his start in the paper business.
You obviously must be exceedingly wealthy to become an owner.
Did you ever wonder how all these people made all that money?
I sure hope you did, because we went and did all this research.
Here's a list of nine billionaire owners and how they built their fortunes.
1. Rich DeVos, Orlando Magic (NBA)
In 1959, DeVos and high school friend Jay Van Andel started selling all-purpose cleaner.
Their business grew to become Amway, which now brings in $6 billion each year under the ominous-sounding Alticor name.
Forbes estimates his wealth at $3.5 billion, making the paltry $85 million he spent on the Magic in 1991 a minor investment.
2. Robert L. Johnson, Charlotte Bobcats (NBA)
Lower on my list of dream jobs is running a cable network that caters to urban youth.
So I'm all kinds of envious of Robert L., who founded BET and sold it to Viacom for $3 billion in 2001.
His fortune was depleted by an expensive divorce, but Johnson's estimated net worth is still $1.1 billion.
His resume is full of firsts BET was the first African-American owned company traded on the NYSE.
He was the first African-American billionaire in the U.S. And, in 2002, he became the first African-American majority owner of a professional sports franchise.
3. Robert Kraft, New England Patriots (NFL)
I'd never given it much thought, but I'd always assumed Kraft bought the Patriots with big cheese money he'd inherited.
But Kraft got his start in the paper business. His wife, Myra, is the daughter of Massachusetts philanthropist Jacob Hiatt.
After Kraft finished Harvard Business School, he went to work with his father-in-law's packaging company.
In 1972, Kraft founded International Forest Products, which is now part of the Kraft Group -- a diversified collection of companies ranging from Gillette Stadium to the New England Revolution (Major League Soccer) to Carmel Container Systems (Israel's largest packaging plant).
Kraft is seen as a savior in New England -- before he bought the team in 1994, the Pats seemed destined for relocation to St. Louis. Plus he's made them really, really good, winning three Super Bowls this decade.
Another reason I'm so keen on owning a team is the access to foreign heads of state.
In 2005, Kraft met Vladimir Putin, who walked off with one of Kraft's Super Bowl rings.
Kraft now claims it was a gift, but that might just be what you say when a Russian leader steals your jewelry. Mental Floss: How ex-presidents and prime ministers make ends meet
4. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Seattle Mariners (MLB)
Despite America's strong resistance to Japanese ownership -- and despite his admitted lack of interest in baseball -- Hiroshi Yamauchi became majority owner of the Seattle Mariners in 1992.
Yamauchi is the man credited with transforming Nintendo from playing-card company to video game giant.
His 55-year tenure saw incredible growth. But that doesn't mean there weren't a few bumps along the way. Forays into instant rice, taxi service and short-stay hotels (also known as "love hotels") did not pan out.
5. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
Jerry Jones built an oil empire in the early 1970s, striking gas in the first thirteen wells he drilled. His father had given him a head start; Pat Jones sold the Modern Security Life Insurance Company for millions.
An undersized guard, Jones was captain of the 1965 Cotton Bowl-winning Arkansas Razorbacks.
Future Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was a teammate, and Johnson's successor, Barry Switzer, was a Razorbacks assistant.
Jones bought the Cowboys for an estimated $140 million in 1989.
He immediately made waves by firing Tom Landry -- the only coach in Cowboys history -- and replacing him with his college buddy (the aforementioned Jimmy Johnson, who was coaching the University of Miami).
After a rocky 1-15 start in 1989, the Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Mental Floss: A brief history of stadium naming rights
6. Malcolm Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Manchester United (English Premier League)
Malcolm Glazer inherited a small jewelry repair business from his father.
But it was Malcolm's investments in Florida trailer parks that started his financial ascent.
He went on to become president and CEO of First Allied Corporation, which now owns 6,700,000 square feet of retail space. He was also chairman of Gilbert/Robinson, Inc., which managed over 100 restaurants, including Houlihan's and Darryl's.
Today, the Glazer family oversees strip malls and nursing homes throughout the land.
Glazer also has a large stake in Zapata, an oil company founded by George H.W. Bush.
Glazer made five previous attempts to join the elite ranks of NFL ownership, including a failed 1993 bid to bring an expansion team to Baltimore.
The New York Times said Glazer had "a reputation as a franchise window shopper, one who looks at virtually every team that comes up for sale."
But in 1995, he outbid George Steinbrenner for the downtrodden Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Under his leadership, the franchise was righted, earning a Super Bowl title in 2003.
Glazer also bought Manchester United, and fans weren't exactly pleased.
7. Stanley Kroenke, Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), St. Louis Rams (NFL -- partial owner)
Kroenke is a self-made man who also married mega-rich.
He earned his estimated $2.1 billion fortune in real estate, developing shopping centers across the country.
Then he went ahead and married a Walton -- Ann Walton. Sam's niece. She's worth another $3+ billion.
A sports junkie, Kroenke also owns Major League Soccer franchise Colorado Rapids and a share in Premier League's Arsenal F.C.
8. Daniel Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
With $5,000 he'd earned delivering pizzas -- and after a stint as a TV reporter -- the future Cavs owner started a small mortgage company called Rock Financial in 1985.
In 1999, the company was bought by Intuit for $532 million.
Three years later, Gilbert bought it back for $64 mil, renaming the company Quicken Loans.
He purchased the Cavaliers for $375 mil in 2005.
He also owns Fathead, which makes wall decals and tiresome ads.
On the side, Gilbert is working to beat Michigan's steroid-free bench-pressing record.
9. Stephen Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens (NFL)
At 48, Stephen Bisciotti is one of the NFL's youngest owners.
He made his money in staffing -- specifically, finding talented engineers for the aerospace industry.
With Jim Davis, Bisciotti founded Aerotek in 1983 (he was 23).
Their staffing company, now known as the Allegis Group, had revenues of $4.4 billion in 2005.
Bisciotti bought 49 percent of the Ravens in 2000, and purchased the rest from Art Modell in 2004. Mental Floss: What your favorite teams were almost called How to be a billionaire sports team owner - CNN.com
And on that note,
What Your Favorite Teams Were Almost Called
by Ethan Trex Buzz up!on Yahoo!
If you’re a sports fan, you know the nicknames and mascots of every team in the leagues you follow. If you’re a die-hard fan, you probably even know what the teams used to be called. (“Washington Wizards? Please. They’ll always be the Bullets to me.”) But do you know what your favorite teams were almost called?
When an expansion team enters a league or an existing team relocates, it picks a new moniker, ideally one that will look good on a t-shirt. The process of selecting a new name can be a protracted one, though, and the winning nickname often only gets the nod at the expense of several other less-inspired finalists. Let’s have a look at some team names that fans almost got to cheer for:
1. The Toronto TarantulasFew team names seem quite as dated as the Toronto Raptors’. The team started play in 1995 with a mascot that was obviously a nod to Jurassic Park, which had destroyed box-office records a couple of years earlier. However, looking at the list of names the Toronto franchise could have chosen, the Raptors seems like a terrific choice. The other nine finalists were the Tarantulas, Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Scorpions, T-Rex, and Terriers. “The Hogs” makes sense since Toronto’s historic nickname is Hogtown, but it lacks a certain menace and would have been catastrophic when the team picked Oliver Miller in the expansion draft. The rest of the finalists, however, look largely like they were culled from a list of things 13-year-old boys think are awesome, so kudos on picking the Raptors name. (This decision might mark the last time a franchise under Isiah Thomas’ direction made a wise choice.)
2. The Vancouver MountiesWhen Vancouver got an NBA team for the 1995 season, the franchise wanted to call itself the Vancouver Mounties. The name seemed like a fitting tribute to the bravery of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The plan hit a snag, though, when the Mounties, no doubt skeptical of any cultural crossovers after Dudley Do-Right, made it clear that they didn’t want their name slapped on the expansion franchise. The team quickly regrouped and picked the name the Grizzlies as a tribute to the bravery of Canada’s many bears. You have to commend the Mounties on their foresight for avoiding this train wreck; the team fled to Memphis in 2001 and had an abysmal .329 winning percentage entering this season.
3. The Baltimore MaraudersWhen the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore for the 1996 NFL season, they couldn’t bring their name with them. According to the settlement the team reached with the city of Cleveland for swiping the beloved franchise, the Browns’ nickname, color scheme, and history stayed put when the team bolted for Baltimore. The now-nameless squad had a series of phone polls and fan surveys to whittle its list of 17 possible names down to three: the Americans, the Marauders, and the Ravens. Over 30,000 fans then voted for the name they liked best, and “the Ravens” won thanks to the city’s connection to Edgar Allen Poe. It’s probably good that the fans wisely passed on “The Americans,” which would have made Kyle Boller’s tumultuous stint as starter a national shame rather than a regional problem.
4. The New York BorrosThe New York Jets began their life as the New York Titans in the American Football League. When Hollywood honcho Sonny Werblin and oil tycoon Leon Hess bought the team in 1963, though, they decided the team needed a new name. According to a contemporary New York Times story, they considered the Dodgers, but nixed the idea after Major League Baseball didn’t like it. “The Gothams” also got some consideration, but the team didn’t like the idea of having it shortened to the Goths because “you know they weren’t such nice people.” (Yeah, but couldn’t you just see Vinny Testaverde winning a playoff game, then sacking Byzantium?)
The last finalist to fall was “the New York Borros,” a pun on the city’s boroughs; the team worried that opposing fans would make the Borros-burros connection and derisively call the squad the jackasses. (Little did the Jets’ forefathers know that their home fans would provide all of the booing and heckling a franchise could ever need.) Eventually the team became the Jets since it was going to play in Shea Stadium, which is close to LaGuardia Airport.
5. The Washington Sea DogsIn 1995 Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin decided that he didn’t want to keep fielding a team with such a violent name and decided to rechristen his franchise. A fan contest came up with five finalists: the Express, the Wizards, the Stallions, the Dragons, and the Sea Dogs. The Wizards wasn’t a perfect choice since some fans thought it tied in to Ku Klux Klan mythology, but it was obviously a better choice than the Sea Dogs. One can only assume that this seafaring name got the ax when someone in the team’s office realized that the District of Columbia doesn’t actually sit next to a sea. Then again, they drafted Kwame Brown first overall, so maybe I’m giving the team too much credit here.
6. The San Antonio GunslingersWhen the ABA’s Texas Chaparrals moved to San Antonio in 1973, the team was renamed the San Antonio Gunslingers. The team dropped this name before ever playing a game, presumably because the image was violent even by firearm-related mascot standards. Instead, the owners picked a tamer name that still tapped into the region’s cowboy past: the San Antonio Spurs.
7. The Florida Flamingos
Florida Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga told the New York Times in 1993 that he had considered naming the team the Florida Flamingos.
8. The Orlando Juice
Before the NBA’s Orlando Magic had a name, the other finalists were “the Heat,” “the Juice,” and “the Tropics.”
9. The Charlotte Spirit
The Charlotte Hornets originally had this name before switching to their insect moniker as a tribute to the city’s angry resistance of British forces during the Revolutionary War.
10. The Minnesota Blue Ox
The NHL’s Minnesota Wild were almost the Blue Ox, the Freeze, the Voyageurs, the Northern Lights, or the White Bears.
11. The New York Skyliners
Before the New York Mets started play in 1962, they considered a list of names that included the Skyliners, the Skyscrapers, the Bees, the Burros, the Continentals, and the Jets mental_floss Blog