Jerry Jones is filthy rich. The man who once worried his purchase of the Cowboys would drain his bank account is now worth billions decades later. Although the Dallas franchise is more of a product of Jones’ wealth, they also boost his finances to help him make other investments.
For those pursuing the American dream, his story shows just how far someone’s drive can take them into the land of the rich.
Jerry Jones’ rise to wealth
Jones first entered the national spotlight at the University of Arkansas in the early ’60s, reports Mental Floss. Although those who know him as the Cowboys may not recall, Jones was captain of the Razorbacks football team that won the 1965 Cotton Bowl. After graduation, Jones pursued a career in business. He took a loan from Jimmy Hoffa’s teamsters and used it to open several Shakey’s Pizza chains, but they were abysmal failures.
After years as an insurance salesman for the family business, Jones decided to think much bigger. He explored different ways to start a lucrative oil and gas company. Once he secured drilling permits, he had extraordinary luck by striking oil on his first 13 drillings. With every new drilling, Jones had more money in his pocket. After buying more oil companies, he was sitting high.
Welcome to the Cowboys
Even the smaller NFL teams are worth billions on the open market. Still, in 1989, the $140 million price tag Jones paid to buy his beloved team was astronomical by comparison to other organizations, details the Star-Telegram.
While many billionaire owners buy teams as a side hobby, Jones used the Cowboys to keep his finances going. If he failed, he might not have recovered. He caused a splash, firing the team’s beloved head coach of nearly 30 years, Tom Landry, and rebranding the team. If the Cowboys weren’t already America’s team, Jones would ensure the title fit in one way or another.
By the mid-’90s, they were among the best NFL teams after a slew of Super Bowl seasons and close misses. However, since those early days, Jones’s team hasn’t delivered. Despite this, they’re one of the most lucrative sports franchises globally. The billionaire owner has parlayed his 1989 gamble into successful ventures away from football.
Jones is currently the 345th-richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg, with $6 billion to his name. Most of that value comes from the Cowboys, but he’s entered other ventures from oil to food. One of his most lucrative investments away from the NFL was Papa John’s. Since the early days of the pizza chain, Jones has been on board as a franchisee for years.
When Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was embroiled in controversy after saying a racial slur on a call, Jones stood by the company while decrying Schnatter’s hateful language. According to Jones, the company was bigger than its namesake. According to Jones, the Cowboys’ involvement with the pizza franchise helped the company more than Papa John’s helped the Cowboys.
“When we became involved, Papa John’s wasn’t doing good, so when we became involved we deliberately make the Cowboys more the face of Papa John’s if you recall,” Jones said per Pro Football Talk. “I would rap and breakdance and do all that kind of stuff. We used to do that break dancing and the rapping and the phones would just light up all over the place on that. So ours is a little bit different. We’ve got a lot of our face out there.”
Regardless, Jones has always shown a willingness to take risks financially and get himself where he wants to be. Papa John’s and the Cowboys are just one part of that. Now entering his older years, MJones remains a savvy businessman, and the Cowboys show no sign of making him go broke any time soon.