The world’s ten richest sports owners have a combined net worth of $353 billion, holding steady from a year ago despite rampant inflation and a volatile market.
It has been a tumultuous start to 2022 for Roman Abramovich, the soon-to-be former owner of the Premier League’s Chelsea FC. In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian oligarchs across the globe have seen their assets seized and their business interests sanctioned, and Abramovich has been no exception. Amid rumors of retribution, Abramovich announced he would sell his beloved soccer club—which he bought for $190 million in 2003 and was worth $3 billion recently (although weighed down with heavy debts)—and donate the proceeds to charity. The U.K. government opted not to wait, seizing the club from him as it awaits a sale.
That alone knocks Abramovich out of the billionaire owner’s box. For the first time in six years, he is not one of the world’s richest sports team owners. But the Russian-Ukraine conflict has taken a much larger toll on his fortune (and his health). Abramovich, who Forbes estimated was worth nearly $15 billion in January, has seen his wealth decline to $6.9 billion.
Abramovich isn’t the only one hurting. Rampant inflation and a volatile market have cost team owners with public holdings like Daniel Gilbert (worth an estimated $22 billion) and Masayoshi Son ($21.3 billion) more than half of their fortunes. But despite the headwinds, the collective wealth of the world’s ten richest sports team owners was more or less flat this year, at $353 billion, thanks to a few big gainers. And the future of the sports world looks promising as an influx of new revenue streams from crypto companies, gambling operators and sports data providers accelerates the recovery from pandemic-driven losses.
As of March, when Forbes locked in net worths for the 2022 World’s Billionaires list, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer had reclaimed his title as the richest sports team owner on earth. Thanks to Microsoft’s surging stock, the former CEO of the tech giant is 33% richer this year, worth an estimated $91.4 billion, moving him past Reliance Industries CEO and Mumbai Indians owner Mukesh Ambani (worth an estimated $90.7 billion) at least briefly. The pair have jockeyed back and forth for the top spot in the sports world since 2016.
Just outside the top ten is real estate and sports magnate Stan Kroenke, whose estimated $10.7 billion net worth leaves him $200 million short of these elite ranks, despite his owning the world’s most valuable private sports empire, which includes the Los Angeles Rams, the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. Not that he has much to complain about: Kroenke’s NHL-best Avalanche could be en route to a Stanley Cup title, just months after his Rams won Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are the ten richest sports team owners:
Net worths are as of March 11, 2022.
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Source of Wealth: Microsoft
Net Worth: $91.4 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +33%)
The NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, whom the former Microsoft CEO bought for a lofty $2 billion eight years ago, are now valued by Forbes at $3.3 billion. Not a bad return. But it’s Microsoft’s stock that has really let Ballmer run up the score—its shares are up more than 600% over the same period, adding more than $65 billion to his net worth over the years. His fortune jumped by $22.7 billion in the past year.
Team: Mumbai Indians
Source of Wealth: diversified
Net Worth: $90.7 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +7%)
The Indians, who are owned by Ambani’s Reliance Industries, are the toast of the Indian Premier League, having won a record five league titles. Ambani could be deepening his ties with the sport further as his company reportedly bids for the IPL’s media rights.
Team: Stade Rennais FC
Source of Wealth: luxury goods
Net Worth: $40.4 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: -4%)
Even though Pinault is still chasing Ligue 1 rivals Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain, which have collected a combined 14 championships since he bought Stade Rennais FC in 1998, the entire French soccer landscape is about to receive a major cash infusion amid Covid-19-driven financial struggles. Private-equity firm CVC Capital Partners is reportedly investing $1.6 billion into Ligue 1’s commercial arm.
Team: New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Racing, RB Leipzig
Source of Wealth: Red Bull
Net Worth: $27.4 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +2%)
Mateschitz has seen modest success from his collection of soccer clubs, which includes the New York Red Bulls of MLS and RB Leipzig of the German Bundesliga. But his crown jewel has emerged in Formula 1. Last season, rising star Max Verstappen brought Red Bull Racing its first championship since 2013, snapping Mercedes’ streak of seven consecutive driver’s titles.
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Source of Wealth: Quicken Loans/Rocket Companies
Net Worth: $22 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: -58%)
A precipitous decline in Rocket Companies’ share price has cost Gilbert more than half of his fortune. The Cavaliers have had better luck this season, with a chance to return to the NBA playoffs for the first time since LeBron James departed for Los Angeles in 2018.
Team: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Source of Wealth: internet, telecoms
Net Worth: $21.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: -53%)
Backed by early wins with Yahoo and Alibaba, to name a few, Son built a powerhouse conglomerate in SoftBank Group over the last 40 years. In 2005, the company added baseball to its coffers, picking up the Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball. Since then, the club has been one of the most successful in the league, winning seven Japan Series championships.
Team: New York Mets
Source of Wealth: hedge funds
Net Worth: $17.4 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +9%)
Under Cohen, the richest individual owner in baseball, the Mets have supplanted the Yankees as the big spenders of New York. The Mets have the second-highest payroll in the league, at $252 million, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cohen’s wealth also played a role in MLB’s latest collective bargaining agreement, with a new luxury-tax tier being informally dubbed the “Cohen Tax.”
Team: Carolina Panthers
Source of Wealth: hedge funds
Net Worth: $16.7 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +15%)
The Panthers have yet to record a winning record under Tepper, who bought the team in 2018. However, skyrocketing media deals have already brought him a sizable return on his investment: The Panthers are now worth an estimated $2.91 billion, $600 million more than Tepper’s purchase price.
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Source of Wealth: wireless networking gear
Net Worth: $14.6 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: -20%)
Pera’s Grizzlies are the least valuable team in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t reaped the benefits of exploding team valuations. After his $377 million purchase of the Grizzlies in 2012, the team is now worth an estimated $1.5 billion.
Team: Los Angeles Kings, LA Galaxy
Source of Wealth: investments
Net Worth: $10.9 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +8%)
Anschutz raised the Stanley Cup twice in the 2010s, and after a three-year lull, it looks like his Kings might be poised to make another run. In July, he dumped his 27% stake in the Los Angeles Lakers—which Forbes estimates was worth roughly $1.2 billion—to Dodgers part-owners Todd Boehly and Mark Walters, but he remains the owner of Crypto.com Arena.