Families are always rising and falling in America, at least according to Nathaniel Hawthorne, who died in 1864 and subsequently predated the rise of the behemoth that is what we think of as “professional sports” in the modern era. Had Hawthorne been alive to see it, we’re sure of two things: one, that he would have enjoyed them, and two, that he would have revised his statements regarding wealth and the families that own sports teams — they always appear to be on the rise.
Forbes just released its annual Forbes 400 list, which chronicles the 400 wealthiest Americans. Among the top of the top of the 1 percent, there are many who have seen it fit to put some of their riches toward owning a professional sports team, and here are the seven wealthiest of those who qualified for the Forbes list. There are many who didn’t make the cut, and you can explore that link to find out more.
7. Stan Kroenke, $5.7 billion
The most diversified sports owner on this list, insofar as his passion for athletic activity at the highest level is concerned, Stan Kroenke owns at least one team in all of the most notable sports leagues in the world, save cricket. He’s the man behind the St. Louis Rams, the Arsenal football club, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids, and the Colorado Avalanche.
6. Stephen Ross, $6 billion
The owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross is in a great position as an NFL owner, one that many are envious of — he also owns the stadium where the Dolphins host their home games, so there’s no lease-related controversy to hang over the heads of the Miami faithful. There is the small matter of the stadium being built on a Native American burial ground, though. Seriously. Curses are not to be taken lightly.
5. Rich DeVos, $6 billion
The owner of the Orlando Magic (pictured above, center, in the first row) is one of the cofounders of AmWay, the allegedly maybe-it-is, maybe-it-isn’t pyramid scheme that sells all kinds of things to all kinds of people. Notoriously private, at least compared to some of his NBA owner peers, DeVos was highlighted as one of the owners who could feel repercussions from the Donald Sterling debacle, as he is on the record speaking out against gay marriage.
4. Micky Arison, $6.4 billion
Scion of the Carnival Cruise armada and the owner of the Miami Heat, some say that Micky Arison’s reluctance to pay the NBA’s luxury tax was the final straw that broke LeBron’s back and ultimately set the wheels in motion for James’s return to Ohio.
3. Phil Anschutz, $11.1 billion
As the owner of both Staples Center and the Los Angeles Kings (not to mention a third of the Lakers and London’s O2 Arena), Phil Anschutz is able to rake in cash from many different sports teams, not just the ones that he has his personal holdings in. While he was looking to get out of the game briefly in 2013, he called off the sale of AEG because, per Forbes, it was “too noisy.”
2. Paul Allen, $17 billion
Of the two Microsoft-associated owners on this list, Paul Allen has seniority, both in his business relationship with the computing giant and with professional sports, having purchased the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and the Seattle Seahawks in 1997. He also owns part of the Seattle Sounders and owns the city’s Century Link Field, which hosts the Seahawks and the Sounders. The NBA has not had a team in Washington state since 2008.
1. Steve Ballmer, $22.5 billion
Steve Ballmer, who spent most of the summer trying to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from a Sterling family that was divided on whether the team would actually be for sale, was Microsoft’s 30th employee. That was clearly a good career decision, as the 18th-richest American is now the wealthiest owner of an American sports team in the country.