Nowadays, everyone understands that professional sports is a business, and a pretty damn lucrative one at that. Sure, fans still use it as an escape. But it is money, first and foremost, that makes it go ‘round.
Is interest in sports as high if not for the hefty salaries given to professional athletes and coaches? How about the pricey endorsements? There is also plenty of money to be made adjacent to the games and teams themselves. Trainers command a small ransom. Restaurants, bars and shops are set up within proximity of arenas and stadiums. Apparel is sold. Memorabilia is auctioned off. Ticket prices are through the roof.
Heck, even the fans can get in on reaping the riches. They will invest their money with online bookies, usually at any one of the many sites you can find at mytopsportsbooks.com, in hopes of hitting wagers and making money. It is also now commonplace for professional sports leagues themselves to broker deals with online gaming sites.
No part of professional sports is more lucrative, though, than franchise ownership. Organization valuations are routinely in the billions—that’s billions with a “b”—and their net worths in most leagues are only climbing.
Purchasing teams has gotten so expensive that one person seldom does it on their own. There will always be a majority governor who controls most of the franchise, but it is standard for them to bring minority stakeholders who invest money for a smaller percentage of team profits and valuations.
Naturally, this setup has drawn in recognizable names. From celebrities looking for a tiny cut of a franchise to A-listers who throw everything they have into team ownership, professional sports has become a popular investment among those you read about in the tabloids. Below are just a handful of the biggest names who have joined the party.
Bill Maher: New York Mets (MLB)
Renowned TV host and comedian Bill Maher was part of an investment group that purchased a minority stake in the New York Mets for $20 million back in 2012. Though he recently sold off his share when the team was bought by new majority stakeholder Steve Cohen, he personally is believed to have more than tripled his initial offering in less than a decade.
Jennifer Lopez, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Fergie: Miami Dolphins (NFL)
Surprise, surprise: Celebrities were interested in buying stakes in a team from Miami, Florida—one of the glamour capitals of the United States.
Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, all-time-tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams and pop star Fergie all purchased one percent shares of the Miami Dolphins back in 2009. Their stakes were part of a series of transactions in which majority owner Stephen Ross sold off pieces of the team to celebrities specifically.
It’s a weird approach, to be sure. It’s also a lucrative one. Each one-percent share went for an estimated $10 million.
Drew Carey: Seattle Sounders FC (MLS)
Major league soccer is trying its darndest to draw more appeal from United States fans. Actor and comedian Drew Carey clearly believes they’re on the right track.
The current “Price is Right” host bought into the team back in 2007, when they were an expansion franchise. His exact stake isn’t known, but the organization overall was worth $30 million at the time—and it has since increased to north of $400 million.
Jay-Z: Brooklyn Nets (NBA)
The world-famous producer and rapper Jay-Z bought a 1 percent share in the Brooklyn Nets back in 2003. While it was considered a good investment at the time, the organization also brought him in to help them appeal to star free agents.
Roughly a decade later, though, Jay-Z opened a sports agency and was forced to sell his share. At the time, one percent of the team was worth around $5.3 million—more than five times his initial investment.
Justin Timberlake: Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
Justin Timberlake, an A-list singer and actor, purchased a small share of the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2012. His exact cut isn’t widely known, but his investment group snagged a 2.84 percent stake in the team for $5 million.
At this writing, that same 2.84 percent share is worth around $36.9 million. Not a bad profit for nine years, eh?