When you are a celebrity and racking in multi million dollar paychecks, you get the luxury of deciding where you spend your hard earned cash. And for those celebrities who have always been die-hard sports fans, that choice is often pretty easy.
From hitting proverbial home runs in their careers, to financing their own sports teams that are hitting it out of the park, celebrities who own athletics teams have always been par for the course in Hollywood. Take a look at some of the surprising celebrities have owned their craft along with owning some of their (and our) all-time favorite sports teams.
1. Jon Bon Jovi – Philadelphia Soul
Many stars become owners of a sports team after that team has already been well established. Not legendary singer Jon Bon Jovi. The New Jersey native, and later darling of Philadelphia, started his own club in the Arena Football League called the Philadelphia Soul in 2004.
After securing the rights to have an arena football team in the city, Bon Jovi co-owned the franchise along with names such as Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, a former quarterback for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. But balancing a rock star lifestyle and sports team ownership can, apparently, present some difficulties. In 2010, Bon Jovi had to balance his singing career and his album tour with his stakes in the team.
2. Venus And Serena Williams – Miami Dolphins
When most people hear the names of the famous athletic sisters Venus and Serena Williams, they likely think about tennis, and not football. Of course, this dynamic duo is known for setting records on the tennis court. But they set records in football as well, becoming the first-ever African American women to have ownership stake in any NFL franchise.
Back in 2009, the Miami Dolphins were making a push to include celebrities in their leadership roster as a draw to raise their brand awareness. At that time, the Williams sisters, who have always identified themselves as “Miami girls,” hopped on board and purchased part of the team whose stadium was just an hour drive away from their homes.
3. Justin Timberlake – Memphis Grizzlies
Before Justin Timberlake joined N*Sync and worked his way into becoming an uber megastar pop icon, eventually landing high-profile Hollywood movie roles left and right, he was just a boy growing up in Memphis, Tennessee. As the self-described “birthplace of rock and roll,” it’s quite clear the city had an effect on him.
They say one should never forget their roots, and Timberlake apparently hasn’t. The star purchased a minority stake in the NBA basketball team the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012. Timberlake has been known to be an avid sports fan, and there’s no question his move added a healthy dose of star power to the team.
4. Fergie – Miami Dolphins
Fergie Duhamel (aka Stacey Ferguson) originally gained clout as part of the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas and later as a solo act. Like many pop superstars, Fergie has developed a habit of being in the right places at the right time.
That includes the world of sports. Fergie joined the celeb-filled list of minority owners of the Miami Dolphins in 2009, thus refusing to miss out on the action. Born and raised in California, one might think the popular entertainer would have opted to purchase a West Coast team, but no one can blame her for going with the hype.
5. Russell Crowe – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Though he was born in New Zealand, Russell Crowe spent most of his life in Australia. It makes sense, therefore, that a passion for rugby runs through the veins of the big-screen star who made a name for himself as the Roman General, Maximus Decimus Maridius, in the epic historical blockbuster Gladiator.
Russell Crowe became co-owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs of the National Rugby League in 2006, the same year A Good Year came out. One of the team’s stars, Thomas Burgess, has praised Crowe for his passion.The Oscar-winner has been known to be involved with the team, even sending out texts to the players before games to boost morale.
6. Gloria Estefan – Miami Dolphins
Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan gave the world a powerful, voluptuous voice born of Havana and spiced up by coming of age in Miami, Florida. Along with winning three Grammys and going platinum several times, Estefan has another non-music related venture under her belt.
The wildly popular singer bought a small stake in the Miami Dolphins in 2009, and nothing could be more fitting. Through she’s one of the team’s many celebrity stakeholders, Estefan made history as the first person of Hispanic descent to become a co-owner of an NFL team when she made the purchase with her record producer husband, Emilio.
7. Usher – Cleveland Cavaliers
Back in 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Ohio city its first major sports championship since 1964. LeBron James and his gang burst out in celebration on the court, but fans were slightly confused when R&B superstar Usher joined in the team’s celebration.
What they didn’t know was that Usher had purchased a small stake in the team in 2005. “I know I have the talent to entertain,” he told Forbes at the time. “Now I just want to be a great businessman.” Usher’s share of the team back then totaled around 1 percent, though it may have been diluted since then. Sounds like a heck of a way to boost morale.
8. Yao Ming – The Shanghai Sharks
It’s not often that an athlete decides to purchase the team he used to play for. Yao Ming started out playing ball in China for the Shanghai Sharks before joining the NBA in 2002 aboard the Houston Rockets. Seven short years later, he bought his former team in its entirety.
While sports teams in the U.S. and Europe have long worked with advertisers to promote companies on their jerseys and naming rights to their stadiums, many of their counterparts in Japan actually take it a step further, naming themselves after their sponsors. Ming, for example, renamed his team “Shanghai Maxxis” under several naming rights deals with a US-based tire company.
9. Jay-Z – Brooklyn Nets
Rap legend Jay-Z got his start in the ‘90s spittin rhymes about his experiences in the streets of Brooklyn and rose rapidly through the hip-hop ranks. Now he’s universally considered one of the genre’s elite, alongside Tupac, Biggie and Nas. Like many rappers, the “99 Problems” singer too has a penchant for sports – and a knack for business.
The rap mogul invested $1 million in the New Jersey Nets in 2004, and under his ownership, the franchise moved from the Prudential Center in Newark to a new arena in Brooklyn in 2012. Jay-Z saw a total return of $2.35 million when he sold the franchise in 2013, earning praise from Forbes, which called his investment a “Warren Buffet-like” success.
10. Nelly – Charlotte Bobcats
In 2004, rapper Nelly was at the top of his career. He was winning awards (three Grammys, to be exact), he was creating hit after hit, and was owning on top of the country’s rap game. During that time, the “Country Grammar” singer also started on a new path: sports team ownership.
Nelly became a notable co-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, along with BET Network co-founder Robert L. Johnson. The newly-named basketball team was established just after the former Charlotte team, the Hornets, moved to New Orleans. Nelly kept his owner title until 2010, when Michael Jordan took over the Bobcats. Apparently it may have been too “hot in there” for Nelly, and he handed over his stake.
11. Bob Hope – Cleveland Indians
Entertainer extraordinaire Bob Hope was born in England but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, after his family moved to the United States when he was four. You’d think he’d have had a lot on his plate already with acting, singing, dancing, writing, and making people laugh. Nope.
Hope was also an avid sports enthusiast, especially when it came to golf and boxing. Baseball was another favorite of his, as evidenced by the fact that he purchased a stake in his local team, the Cleveland Indians. Back in 1947, the icon had also co-purchased the Los Angeles Rams, but sold the team in 1962. Talk about a man who really did it all.
12. John Candy – Toronto Argonauts
Not everyone knows John Candy was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, and that’s because he grew into an American entertainment icon for his memorable film and television performances that we enjoy to this day. But you can’t take Canada out of the man.
Along with the owner of the Los Angeles Kings, Bruce McNall, and NHL star Wayne Gretzky, the iconic actor purchased the Toronto Argonauts in 1991. The venture was a handsome addition to Candy’s rich appearances in Spaceballs and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s always a wonder when such a talented actor shows a passion for something seemingly totally out of his element.
13. Drew Carey – Seattle Sounders
Drew Carey is known for his stand up comedy, the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and his eponymous sitcom, The Drew Carey Show. But while everyone knows he is obsessed with comedy, most don’t know that he is perhaps equally as obsessed with soccer.
An Ohio native, Carey has been a longtime fan of Cleveland sports for a while, especially the Cleveland Browns, but his ultimate sporting love was soccer. His die-hard fandom led him to become a part owner of the Seattle Sounders since its founding in 2007 (their first game was in 2009). Vice News has since dubbed Carey “The Coolest Owner in Sports” and he is often spotted at many of their home games giving fans high fives.
14. Elton John – Watford FC
Fame definitely has its perks. In Sir Elton John’s case, one of the many perks of celebrity status is that you can eventually own the sports team you have long adored since you were a child. Sounds pretty great to us, too.
The Rocket Man became the chairman and director of the Watford Football Club in 1976 (for the Americans, we’re talking about the soccer type of football), but later sold off the club in 1987. He must have missed his beloved team, because he re-purchased it again in 1997 until 2002. While he’s not calling the shots for the team anymore, his presence is still everywhere, from their arena’s Sir Elton John Stand to the team’s entrance song, “I’m Still Standing.”
15. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons – Los Angeles KISS
Legendary heavy metal band Kiss is known for belting out about how they want to “rock and roll all night,” but now we know what at least two of its members were doing during the day time. From 2013 to 2016, the band’s guitarist Paul Stanley and frontman Gene Simmons wiped off the face paint and applied eye black as owners of the arena football team called, similarly enough, the Los Angeles KISS.
After Los Angeles acquired and then subsequently lost most of its teams playing in the Arena Football League (AFL), Simmons and Stanley, along with band manager Doc McGhee, tried their luck at owning the latest team. We aren’t in the business of spoilers, but let’s just say this team didn’t last long, seeing that its reign lasted from 2013 to 2016.
16. Bill Murray – St. Paul Saints (and Others)
Bill Murray is known as one of the wackiest staples in Hollywood, whose wild antics are the stuff of legends (like crashing sundry events like kickball games, bachelor parties, birthday dinners of random strangers, and really just about any party). Apparently Murray’s “fun and games” attitude extends to sporting games as well.
Murray is a co-owner of the St. Paul Saints, an independent minor league baseball team based in Minnesota. He was even pictured at a Saints game scanning tickets as fans entered the stadium. Talk about a grand entrance. And he didn’t stop there. Murray is also the part owner of a few other minor league baseball teams, including the Charleston RiverDogs.
17. Will Ferrell – LA FC
From his laugh out loud roles on the likes of Superstar, Kicking & Screaming and Talladega Nights, actor Will Ferrell knows his fair share about sports and competition. But beyond his hilarious Hollywood credentials, Ferrell is also an owner of the Los Angeles FC, a professional soccer franchise.
Ferrell has been an avid soccer fan for his entire life, and couldn’t help himself from joining legendary names like Magic Johnson and Mia Hamm on the roster of the team’s owners. He’s even been known to crash an LAFC press conference or two. And if you ask him about his own soccer skills, he admits he’s “pretty good, as long as I don’t have to run too much.” Seems like the only running he likes to do is running his soccer team.
18. Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith – Philadelphia 76ers
Step aside, Jay-Z. The Brooklyn Nets aren’t the only NBA team to have a rap superstar as an owner. Along with his wife, Jada Pinkett, actor and hip-hop icon Will Smith purchased a minority stake in the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.
As a Philly native who attended Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia the 76ers were a fine choice for Smith if he was going to get into owning NBA teams. As billboard.com wrote at the time, some of the team’s players expressed excitement over having the Fresh Prince actor as one of their owners. “Maybe Willow can perform at halftime,” then-Sixers guard Evan Turner tweeted of the Smith’s singer-songwriter daughter.
19. Bill Maher – New York Mets
In his day to day life, Bill Maher is busy opining on the issues of the day with a strong dose of humor and a lack of political correctness. But it seems the funnyman has a passion for more than just satire and atheism. Apparently, Maher enjoys sports too.
The comedic television personality purchased a small share of the New York Mets in 2012. He’s a New Yorker, so the team choice might not be the most baffling. But for a wildly successful man, Maher could have conceivably picked a slightly more successful New York team to invest in. The baseball team did improve in 2018, though!
20. Nick Lachey – Seattle Mariners’ Triple A Affiliate and the Tacoma Rainers
Nick Lachey started his career as lead singer in the boy band 98 Degrees, but later he began to turn up the heat in the world of minor league baseball. In 2006, the Tacoma Rainers (the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) announced that Lachey had taken over as a part-owner of the sports team.
During the announcement, Lachey revealed that sports are his “true passion” and that baseball has always played a huge role in his life. During that time, Lachey had just split from fellow singer Jessica Simpson and had broken off from his boy band, going on his own with a solo album. Combined with buying a sports team, we’d say that’s definitely one way to get over a break up.
21. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony – Miami Dolphins
Some married couples buy a house and maybe get a dog together after their wedding. But just a few years after their nuptials, singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony bought minority ownership of the Miami Dolphins. We guess for celebrities, gifts (even to themselves) are often something of a lavish affair.
During the big announcement to reveal their new roles, the Dolphins gave each of the singers their own Dolphins jersey, with Anthony getting number 16 (to mark his September 16 birthday) and Lopez receiving number 24 (in a nod to her July 24 birthday). The couple has since called it quits, but Anthony continues to serve as partner on the team along with the rest of Miami’s star-studded roster.
22. Ted Turner – Atlanta Braves
Ted Turner is known as the man behind the Turner Broadcasting System conglomerate, which brought us the first 24-hour cable news channel, CNN. But what is lesser known is that Turner also owned the Atlanta Braves and helped make the team secure a place as one of the famous names in baseball.
Turner originally bought the Atlanta Braves in 1976 so that he could be free to broadcast their games on some of the Turner Network’s local stations, and that move turned the Braves into a household name. While he was known to be a very hands on owner, he ultimately sold off the team in 1996 to Time Warner. But by the time he sold the baseball franchise, he had changed Braves history forever.
23. David Beckham — Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami
David Beckham has been retired from his 20 year soccer career since 2013, but apparently he just could not stay away from the sport. In that same year, he began an ownership group for a new professional soccer team in Miami, joined by a star studded roster that includes former American Idol creator Simon Fuller. And if you haven’t heard of the team, there’s a good reason why.
So far, the Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami (also known as Inter Miami CF) hasn’t begun playing in the major leagues and it’s slated to until 2020. The team isn’t even expected to have a stadium of its own for a few seasons after that. In 2018, the team received approval for its grand plans for a soccer stadium and park, which is set to include a hotel, shopping area, and public sports grounds. We are patiently awaiting our invite.
24. Mark Cuban – Dallas Mavericks
If you’ve ever seen the show Shark Tank, then you know that business tycoon Mark Cuban knows what a good investment looks like. But when Cuban first bought the majority stake in the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks in 2000, the team was considered to be one of the worst in the league. It left many scratching their heads wondering why he decided to purchase the team. But fast forward to 2011 when, under Cuban’s ownership, the Mavericks went on to win the NBA championship.
The multi-billionaire said that, despite its success, his purchase of the Mavericks had nothing to do with money. Instead, he said he bought it due to his pure love for basketball, and specifically his love for the Mavericks. And you know the old saying, if you can’t join them, buy them!
25. Michelle Williams – Chicago Sky
Turns out Michelle Williams of the famous R&B and pop girl group Destiny’s Child isn’t only known for being super Bootylicious. When she belts out Say My Name, she’s not only referring to herself as a famed singer, but also a strong, independent woman invested in living an active and healthy life.
In 2006, Williams took her passion for basketball a bit further when she bought a minority stake in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, Chicago Sky. What’s more, Mathew Knowles, the manager of Destiny’s Child and father of none other than her partner in crime Beyoncé Knowles, was part of the minority shareholder owners who purchased a stake in the sports team.
26. David Letterman – Rahal Letterman Lanigan, IndyCar Racing Team
While hosting late night television shows and making fans laugh until their stomachs hurt might be his forte, that didn’t stop David Letterman from pursuing one of his other passions. The comedian and TV host always had a wild passion for cars, collecting model cars and racers from a young age, and he took this obsession a step further in 1996.
Since 1996, Letterman has owned the auto racing team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which competes full time in the Verizon IndyCar Series, as well as in the United SportsCar Championship. If you’re wondering where the team gets its name from, it’s because the co-owners are auto racer driver Bobby Rahal and entrepreneur Mike Lanigan.
27. Jimmy Buffett – Miami Dolphins, NFL
“Island escapism” musician Jimmy Buffett took his football fanaticism to the next level when his company Landshark Lager teamed up with the Miami Dolphins to rename the stadium “Landshark Stadium” for eight months. He also penned new lyrics for the team to his 1979 song Fins, which played during the team’s home games.
Funnily enough, Buffett may have teamed up with the Miami Dolphins, but he’s always been a New Orleans Saints fans. He even had the teams head coach, Sean Payton, join his Coral Reefer Band as a special guest at a concert in New Orleans on April 1, 2012.
28. Tim McGraw – Nashville Kats, AFL
When he isn’t yodeling away to his melodies, top country music superstar Tim McGraw takes a great interest in sports, and particularly football. From a young age, McGraw was always interested in baseball, which isn’t surprising seeing that his father Tug McGraw was a MLB pitcher for over two decades.
Tim actually followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued baseball into his college years, but had to quit after he incurred a serious knee injury. This didn’t stop him from taking an interest in other sport endeavors in 2005, namely the (AFL) Arena Football League Nashville Kats, which bought a small stake in as a minority owner. Unfortunately, the team disbanded in 2007.
29. Steve Aoki – Rogue, eSports
What do sports and music have in common? Steve Aoki! That’s right, the world-renowned electro DJ and record producer decided that collaborating with the likes of will.i.am, Afrojack, Linkin Park, and many other bands and artists, wasn’t enough for him, so he spun his turntable towards sports, but one of a very particular kind.
Aoki spread his proverbial wings and became a partial owner of the eSports organization, Rogue, in 2016. eSports company ReKTGlobal partnered up with the DJ to take the team to another level in order to participate against the fierce competition in games like the League of Legends European Championship and Overwatch. Aoki busies himself with promoting the teams and the brand itself.
30. Burt Reynolds – Tampa Bay Bandits, USFL
Gunsmoke and Smokey and the Bandit’s Burt Reynolds will always be a household name for his key performances in TV series and box office hits. But before he was making waves in the entertainment world, he played as halfback on a scholarship at Florida State.
The Academy Award winner continued to have a fascination with football way into his acting career that he even went as far as becoming the co-owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits from 1982 to 1986. Tampa’s name was inspired by none other than Smokey and the Bandit triology, as well as the primary sponsor for the team, Skoal Bandit.
31. Tom Clancy – Baltimore Orioles, MLB
Espionage and military-science novelist Tom Clancy loved to keep his storylines focused on the Cold War, but when it came to real-life, he liked to keep his strike zone in the baseball pitch. In 1993, he purchased the Baltimore Orioles from Eli Jacobs with a group of investors.
Until his passing, Clancy served as part owner and vice-chairman of the team’s community and public affairs. He was such an integral part of the team that a few months after he parted, they opened the 2014 festivities with a tribute video to him and wore his name of the right jersey sleeve throughout the season.
32. Gene Autry – Los Angeles/California, Anaheim Angels, MLB
Our Holiday season wouldn’t quite be the same without the crooning of the singing cowboy Gene Autry and his classic hits, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Here comes Santa Claus. But did you know that many MLB teams were forever indebted to Autry, and no, not because of his music.
In 1961, Autrey expressed a vested interest in owning the radio broadcast of the Angel’s when he learned that the MLB wanted to add an expansion team in Los Angeles. His proposal really impressed the executives that they decided to make him the owner of the franchise. In 1996, the team moved to Anaheim, and was renamed the California Angels, and then the Anaheim Angels from 1997 to 2005, when it became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Now that’s quite a mouthful!
33. Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Sparks
While Magic Johnson gained fame for his role on the court as a NBA player for the Los Angeles Lakers, he also got involved with numerous business ventures during his life that go beyond his career as a basketball player. He was part-owner of the Lakers for several years, but there is another sport that piqued his interest in 2012.
Johnson purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team in 2012. He is known to sit in a field box behind the home plate where he signs autographs along with other celebrities such as, Mary Hart, Tiger Woods, Larry King, Alyssa Milano, and Shia LaBeouf. In 2014, Johnson also purchased the Los Angeles Sparks basketball team.
34. Michael Jordan – Charlotte Hornets
Former professional basketball player Michael Jordan might be known for his ferocious slam dunk, today he is the principal owner and chairman of the NBA Charlotte Hornets. He had a minority stake in the team for many years, but in 2010, Jordan purchased the majority stake in the team. This in turn made him the first NBA player to own the majority of a team.
Michael Jordan cannot be listed here without the honorary mention of his Nike Air Jordans, which were introduced in 1984 and remain super popular until today. It’s no wonder then that the shoes earned him the nicknames Air Jordan and His Airness.
This article was originally published on DirectExpose: Popular Celebrities Who’ve Owned Sports Teams And You Probably Didn’t Even Know It
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