NFL

Is Dan Snyder the Richest NFL Owner?

Few team owners face more pressure than Dan Snyder. The official name of his franchise, the Washington Football Team, implies this. The Redskins, a relic of another era, didn’t survive during the pandemic. Unfortunately for Snyder, he has years worth of callous, often aggressive quotes defending it.

Then there’s the issue of the team itself. They rush from one crisis to the next, many preventable. It implies a top-down sort of problem. This causes a lot of people to wonder if Snyder is so rich that his football team is more of a sideshow than his actual moneymaking concern. Is Snyder the richest owner in the NFL?

How Dan Snyder got rich enough to buy an NFL team

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Snyder is mostly thought of in a negative light today, thanks to his many controversies. That isn’t entirely undeserved if you consider things like the time he sued an elderly fan for canceling her season tickets during the 2008 economic meltdown. But Snyder’s backstory, how he came to his billions, is nothing like that.

The Washingtonian reports that he came from a poor family. They didn’t have a television for much of his childhood. He nursed his Redskins fandom by wandering into town with his father, watching games at the local television store. He made it to college but dropped out due to his preoccupation with starting his own business. He spent time working as a travel agent, before getting into publishing with his sister, Michele.

His first venture was a misfire, but he landed on a winner once he transitioned to a focus on advertising. After the family went into some debt getting the business started, growth boomed. He became the big fish, gobbling up smaller regional fish and turning himself into a billionaire in the process. Fox Business estimates he’s worth $2.6 billion as of June 2020.

Snyder’s controversial ownership of the Washington Football Team

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Snyder leveraged his wealth into the great passion of his childhood, the Redskins. That 1999 acquisition, as the Washington Post reports, immediately thrust Snyder out of his behind-the-scenes rise to riches and into the public eye. The $800 million purchase put one of the NFL’s most storied franchises into the hands of a man only 11 years removed from started his first successful business.

Since then, the team has faltered badly. Snyder’s extremely hands-on ownership style has only led to objectively poor results overall. Just five playoff appearances and two wins across 20 years do not speak well of his stewardship. Worse still is how Snyder’s approach spills down the ranks. Players traded to the Washington Football Team have called out a longstanding pattern of negligence, including improper concussion protocols.

Who is the actual richest owner in the NFL?

One might imagine that Snyder’s mercurial ownership style is due to his split attentions. That he has much larger concerns at stake elsewhere. But he isn’t anywhere close to the richest owner in the NFL, and exponentially further from being the richest owner in American professional sports.

The richest owner is easily Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO. He runs the NBA’s Clippers, providing a complete turnaround after the unstable era helmed by the previous owner. His net worth recently leaped past $60 million. He’s wildly enthusiastic, capable of delegating to his front office, and willing to spend when the time is right.

As for the NFL, the richest owner is, according to Yahoo Sports, David Tepper. His $13 billion net worth allowed him to buy the Carolina Panthers for $2.275 billion outright, straight cash offer. That’s nearly as much as Snyder is worth altogether. But the thing that matters most, his actual team’s performance on the field in 2020, isn’t looking good. The Panthers are projected by USA Today to finish with a horrific 3-13 record, somehow worse than the Washington Football Team’s 5-11.