Lots of professional athletes go on to become team owners, such as Michael Jordan with the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team, and not all of them buy stakes in teams in the sport in which they made their name, like Magic Johnson, who is part owner in the $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, and LeBron James, part owner of Liverpool football club.
It’s more unexpected when a celebrity who is best known for dazzling on stage or screen rather than for possessing any athletic inclinations buys a stake in a sports team.
Although in past decades, show-biz figures such as Bob Hope, Gene Autry, Burt Reynolds and John Candy invested in teams, it seems to be getting more common in recent years. Actors, comics and musicians own stakes in teams ranging from football to soccer to soccer that’s called football, and in numerous other sports. Read on to see who they are and the teams they partially own.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 5 June, 2012
New York Mets
Comedian Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time” recently acknowledged owning a minority share of the Mets baseball team, although he did not specify if he bought a $20 million share of the $240 million total sale, or chipped in with others on a portion thereof.
In June 2012, the New York-born, New Jersey-raised television personality visited Citi Field to watch batting practice and discuss his role as a partner. Maher says he brings luck to the team. And Johan Santana pitched the Mets' first no-hitter in the team's history. “Let’s be honest. There was no no-hitter for 50 years. I buy in and come to town. Draw your own conclusions.”
Owning the Miami Dolphins is practically a requirement for celebrities living in Miami. A small percentage of the team is owned by Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez and Fergie (pictured from left to right) and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony, Venus & Serena Williams (who became the first female African-Americans to own a stake in an NFL franchise) and Jimmy Buffett (who got the name of the stadium temporarily changed to LandShark Stadium).
Comedian, actor, host and producer Drew Carey added “soccer team minority owner” to his resume in 2007.
Carey is much associated with his native Cleveland, so why a Seattle soccer team? He became a fan of the sport after attending an MLS game in Los Angeles, according to the Seattle P-I blog. He later became a member of the Barcelona football club, which allows members to vote on team issues. As a condition of his ownership on the Sounders, Carey brought this democratic method to the Seattle team, so they can vote out the general manager if need be. Although he requested this change, Carey described his role in recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel: “I’m like a fan with benefits.”
Hollywood power couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (top right) acquired minority ownership in the 76ers in fall 2011 during the basketball lockout. Will Smith grew up in Philadelphia, before a rap career as The Fresh Prince evolved into mostly an acting career.
As one of the new ownership’s group first moves, the 76ers new CEO, Adam Aron, promised to slash prices by 50 percent or more on just under 9,000 tickets every game once the lockout ended. The new owners also set up a web page so fans can tell them how they’re doing, with a free game tickets promised to the 1,776 most intriguing comments.
St. Paul Saints
Bill Murray has worn many hats: sketch comic, ghostbuster, golfer, fan-thrilling party crasher and bartender.
As part owner of the Saints since the minor league baseball team's formation in 1993, Murray plays several roles as well. His title on the Saints' website is Team Psychologist. He also has tossed out the first pitch on Opening Night, coached first base and is the biggest cheerleader for the American Association team.
Rapper, producer, former Def Jam Records CEO, creator of Rocawear, Shawn Corey Carter, better known as Jay-Z, is also part owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
The basketball team had been based in New Jersey starting in 1977, but is moving to Brooklyn's brand-new Barclays Arena. Barclays is the centerpiece of the Atlantic Yards project, which was much-contested due to its use of eminent domain to evict residents, among other concerns. Jay-Z will christen the venue in his hometown by performing a series of five concerts this fall. He also designed the NBA team’s new black and white logo, which now incorporates a “B” for Brooklyn.
Rock superstar Jon Bon Jovi was a majority owner in the Philadelphia Soul team from its 2004 inception until the Arena Football League filed for bankruptcy and suspended operations in 2009. Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora was a minority owner in the team.
When the team got revived in 2010, Bon Jovi was no longer an investor, though he issued a statement expressing his continuing support for the team. He has since opened a restaurant with a similar name and a nonprofit, pay-what-you-can policy: JBJ Soul Kitchen.
Watford Football Club
Legendary pop singer-songwriter and tickler of ivories Sir Elton John first became chairman and director of the Watford FC in 1976. After a break from the team, he returned in 1997 as honorary life-long president, a title he shares with former team manager Graham Taylor.
John was also an owner of the Los Angeles Aztecs soccer team, which were active from 1974 through 1981.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Russell Crowe is a lifelong fan of the rugby team he now owns. Sydney-raised Crowe purchased a 75 percent stake in the club along with businessman Peter Holmes à Court for $3 million Australian (about $2.9 million American). The story of their takeover of the club was dramatized in a 2007 miniseries called “South Side Story.”
In 2005, the Rabbitohs became the first team sponsored by a film when they wore jerseys advertising Crowe’s film “Cinderella Man.” The team got paid $250,000 Australian to wear the jerseys for eight weeks.