Skip to main content

Money has never been much of a problem for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family. Jones has a net worth of approximately $8.4 billion. Money, however, didn’t stop Jones from forcing his son Stephen, the Executive Vice President and CEO of the Cowboys, from interviewing for a job at Wendy’s.

How Jerry Jones made his money

Jerry Jones started out as an athlete, playing college football at the University of Arkansas. When his playing days were over, Jones attempted several different business ventures, including borrowing money to try to purchase the San Diego Chargers, but none succeeded.

Jones then got into the oil business and succeeded from the very beginning. He founded Jones Oil and Land Lease and began ‘wildcatting’ – a business term describing the speculative act of drilling for oil in places not heretofore known to contain it. Although the land is relatively cheap, wildcatting is considered to be a high-risk exercise, because the land is often devoid of oil, frequently leaving investors with useless acreage. On the other hand, if an oilman happens to strike oil, wildcatting can be immensely profitable, because the land suddenly spikes in value.

Jones struck it rich early, striking oil on his first 13 drillings. He made millions of dollars. In February of 1989, Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys for $140 million. In 2008, Jones formed a partnership with Yankee Globa Enterprises to create a food, beverage, merchandise, retail and stadium operations corporation to serve entertainment venues.

Jerry Jones’ success with the Dallas Cowboys

When Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys from H.R. ‘Bum’ Bright for $140 million, it was the first time a sports team had ever surpassed the $100 million mark. Jones immediately made a very unpopular decision, firing longtime coach Tom Landry and replacing him with Jones’ college teammate Jimmy Johnson. Landry was not too happy, saying the firing could have happened a little more gracefully.

“I’ve never been one to get that upset, because I accept people as they are,” said Landry at the time. ”Sure, the firing could have been handled better, but I won’t get upset over it. I wouldn’t think I would coach again, because it would just be hard, not being in the Cowboys’ blue.” Jones and Johnson went 1-15 in their first year together.

The Cowboys then went on to be one of the best teams in the 90s. Dallas, under Johnson, claimed back-to-back Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII before Johnson left and was replaced by Barry Switzer, who won Super Bowl XXX. Today, the Dallas Cowboys are worth approximately $5.5 billion.

Stephen Jones forced to apply for a job at Wendy’s

Jerry Jones made his money through hard work. One of his sons, Stephen, wanted to follow his father’s footsteps by playing college football. While in high school, Stephen Jones said “my goal and dream was to play [football] in college,” he told the Dallas News. Jerry Jones told him if that was the case, Stephen needed to work out and dedicate himself to football. He needed to treat it like a job.

One day, though, Stephen recalled, his dad “came home, middle of the day — he wasn’t out of town as I suspected — and he came home to me in the swimming pool with a group of about 30 other kids. … They were loud, we had music and I was one of the loudest, enjoying the moment. And I looked up, my father was sitting on the porch.”

Stephen Jones left the pool and went over to see his father, who told him to go put on a suit. “He said, ‘We’re going on a little job interview,’” Stephen recalled. “I had no idea what he was talking about.” They went off to Wendy’s where the owner was a friend of Jerry’s. “He walked me through the process of the training program and what I’d be doing — cleaning out the grills and the griddles and the grease pits.” Stephen was hired.

On the way home, Stephen told Dallas News: “(Jerry) says, ‘Hey Stephen, you fired up about this job?’ [I said,] ‘Yes, sir. I’ll be ready to go to work.’ And he goes, ‘Well, are you learning anything from this?’ [I said,] ‘Yes, I have. I shouldn’t have been home. I should’ve been working.’ He goes, ‘You know what? I’m a big believer in maybe a second chance. I already talked to the owner (Mr. Hamra) — I’ve already told him that we were maybe going to do this. If you think you can get it right, we’ll give you one more chance.’”

Stephen Jones said it was a lesson learned and something he needed to hear. He went on to enjoy a four-year college football career at Arkansas.