The National Football League is embroiled in drama over the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, with some voices calling for Commissioner Roger Goodell to be fired. The controversy overall has stirred curiosity about how the NFL is run, and how it makes money.
In fact, the NFL is actually tax-exempt, a status it gained in 1944. Often forgotten, the league was granted 501(c) 6 status in 1966, when it merged with the American Football League. But unlike charitable nonprofits, or 501 (c) 3 organizations, the 501(c) 6 designation means the NFL is a trade organization. This tax-exempt status does not apply to the league's 32 individually owned franchises. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also a 501 (c) 6 organization.
The league's form 990 from 2012, the latest available filing, shows some unexpected NFL figures.
Football in America makes about $10 billion annually. The NFL actually wound up in the red for $304,462,262 that year. That same year, Goodell made more than $44 million.
The money generated by sponsorships, broadcast deals and ticket sales is taxed through a for-profit organization owned by the 32 franchises or teams, called NFL Ventures.