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Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys for $185 million in 1989. It now stands as the most valuable sports team in the world, at $4.2 billion.
As the owner, president and general manager of the Cowboys, Jones has skin in the game. He says it's not the value of the team that impresses him the most — what happens on the field matters more to him.
"I would trade those values for some more first downs, or some more touchdowns," he told Jim Cramer in an interview on Thursday.
When Jones first made the decision to buy the team, he did not look at the purchase from a financial perspective, he said. He bought the Cowboys because he simply loved football.
"I bought the Cowboys because I just wanted to be associated with sports and football. And I didn't buy them for money. I fortunately got a little money together. I gave it all up to get to be a part of football," Jones said.
Had he realized that he was buying the team as the U.S. was going into an economic expansion, he said he might have felt a little better about the investment.
"Had we been having this interview when I bought the team, and I was sitting there holding a glass of water, I would have been shaking so bad I couldn't have held the water," he said. "I was worried."
Instead, the great legacy of football in Texas prompted him to buy the team. He wanted to have a stake in what he considered football country.
Jones says he has consistently underestimated the interest in the NFL over the years. He had no idea how much fans would like the sport. A TV executive opened his eyes when he explained the drama on the field is like a soap opera, and Jones now believes that the drama keeps the sport relevant.
He even takes some of that drama to heart, and doesn't get over a loss easily.
"Here in Dallas, that muffled sound you hear in New York is me screaming in that pillow. And by the way, I'm up on Dallas's tallest building maybe thinking about it. So, I don't get over it, it makes me sick," Jones said.
Jones is also now taking the team's AT&T Stadium into the world of boxing. The stadium is set to host a bout between Canelo Alverez and Liam Smith on Saturday. When Jones walked out of the business world and into the NFL, he said he had no idea that he would feel so alive 27 years later or expand into boxing.
Said Jones: "I was a 'walk on' when I got in the NFL. The NFL has lifted me to a level that I would have never gone on my own. It kind of gave you incentive to be more than you could be. And the NFL has really been that."