The cash doesn't just flow uphill in the sports world; it flows sideways, too. And perhaps no person without a stake in a franchise is more synonymous with sports than Nike founder Phil Knight. Certainly nobody in sports has more jack — owners included — and Oregon’s favorite Duck checks in at No. 24, one spot ahead of Michael Dell (yeah, that Dell), with $16.3 billion. Nike’s shares are up a third from last year, and in that time Knight has seen sales of brands Umbro and Cole Haan bring in nearly $800 million. Other non-owners with billions of reasons to love sports include: No. 243: Michael Rubin, $2.3 billion (owner of online retailer Fanatics) No. 273: James France, $2 billion (vice chairman and executive vice president of NASCAR) No. 327: Kevin Plank, $1.7 billion (Under Armour founder and CEO) No. 386: Frank & Lorenzo Fertitta, $1.3 billion each (UFC co-owners)
Steve Bisciotti, you were No. 1 in February when your Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. But right now, you’re only No. 260. That’s where Bisciotti ranks on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans, which came out Monday. The Ravens owner, worth $2.1 billion, is one of several sporting types on the list. In all, owners of more than 30 professional sports teams made the list — after all, when you’re worth billions, you get to buy yourself some toys, and what’s a better toy than a sports franchise? Here are some of the big hitters from five big-league sports.
NBA: Paul Allen
At $15.8 billion worth, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (No. 26) can own both the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers. And that means he can invite his football coach, Pete Carroll (right) to join him courtside to watch the Blazers. Eleven other NBA owners made the list, including: No 60: Richard DeVos, $6.8 billion (Magic) No. 70: Micky Arison, $5.9 billion (Heat) No. 84: Stan Kroenke, $5.3 billion (Nuggets, as well as Rams in the NFL, Avalanche in the NHL and Arsenal in the EPL)
NFL: Jerry Jones
Jerry Jones turned his know-how that allowed him to amass a fortune in the oil bidness to monetize just about everything having to do with the Dallas Cowboys. Despite a long run of underwhelming postseason results, the Cowboys brand has remained as popular as ever. His team plays in a 100,000-seat palace and rakes in more revenue than any other NFL club. Jones himself is worth $3 billion (No. 166), and his franchise is America’s most valuable, worth $2.3 billion, Forbes says. Of course, the NFL was the most well-represented sport on the list with 14 owners (sorry, Dan Snyder — you made money this past year, but not enough to stay on the list). Clearly, he should move his team to Florida; others who made the cut include: No. 94: Stephen Ross, $4.8 billion (Dolphins) No. 102: Malcolm Glazer & Family, $4.5 billion (Buccaneers, as well as Manchester United in EPL) No. 122: Shahid Khan, $3.8 billion (Jaguars, as well as Fulham in EPL)
NHL: Jeremy Jacobs
No need for Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs to be drinking out of the Stanley Cup. He’s got plenty of cups. His Delaware North company is concessionaire to 200 venues in four countries. It takes a lot of hot dogs and sodas to get you up to $2.8 billion (No. 193). And to think it all got started when Jacobs’ father began selling popcorn and peanuts in 1915. And who says the NHL is hurting for cash? It put four owners on the list (more than baseball), and along with Stan Kroenke (yeah, that name again) and Jacobs, the billionaires on ice are: No. 161: Terry Pegula, $3.1 billion (Sabres) No. 222: Joshua Harris, $2.5 billion (Devils, as well as the 76ers in the NBA)
MLB: John Henry
Sure, the owner gets to pose with championship trophies. But then again, he’s also preserved for posterity welcoming in monumental mistakes — like Boston Red Sox owner John Henry (right) with new manager Bobby Valentine last year. Of course, now that Henry ($1.7 billion, No. 327) has also bought the Boston Globe (to go along with Liverpool in the EPL), he can make sure at least one media outlet never runs this photo again. The other MLB owner to make the cut is Nationals owner Ted Lerner ($4 billion, No. 110).
Soccer: Malcolm Glazer and family
Just because you can buy something, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to be happy about it. British fans did not take kindly when Yanks, Malcolm Glazer and his sons, took over their beloved Manchester United, one of the most storied of soccer franchises. When the Glazers ($4.5 billion, No. 102) assumed control of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was anyone waving signs like this? The other Americans in charge of EPL franchises making this list are familiar ones, having already been highlighted in other sports (Stan Kroenke, Shahid Khan and John Henry).