There's no doubt that professional football is big business, as evidenced by the fact that the NFL pulled in roughly $16 billion in revenue over the 2018-2019 season.
That number represented about a 5% bump from the previous season, and the league's revenue is only expected to keep climbing as the NFL has its sights set on reaching the $25 billion mark by 2027.
With those massive numbers in mind, it's no surprise that the owners of the 32 NFL franchises count many billionaires among them, as the average value of an NFL team increased 11% to $2.86 billion this year, according to Forbes' latest estimate.
Indeed, it takes a healthy net worth to purchase an NFL team (though, some owners were lucky enough to inherit their teams). As recently as May 2018, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper became the latest person to buy an NFL team when he shelled out a record $2.2 billion to purchase the Carolina Panthers.
Less than a year later, Tepper also became the wealthiest NFL owner with the passing of former Seattle Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (the Seahawks are now owned by Allen's trust and run by his sister, Jody Allen). Allen died at 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in October 2018, leaving behind a fortune worth more than $20 billion.
Allen's death left Tepper as both the newest and the wealthiest NFL owner, as the hedge fund manager boasts an estimated net worth of $12 billion, according to Forbes.
Here are the 10 wealthiest NFL owners, based on Forbes' estimates of their net worth.
1. David Tepper, 62, Carolina Panthers
Net worth: $12 billion
Tepper founded his hedge fund, Appaloosa Management, in 1993 after he was passed over for a promotion at Goldman Sachs and quit the banking giant. Tepper grew Appaloosa into a global hedge fund giant that managed roughly $14 billion in assets before he began to wind down the investment business in May 2019 to focus on running the Panthers franchise he bought a year earlier.
2. Stan Kroenke, 72, Los Angeles Rams et al.
Net worth: $9.7 billion
The NFL's second-wealthiest owner is the man who brought professional football back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1995 (he moved the Rams there from St. Louis before the 2016 season). Kroenke made his billions as a real estate developer who also happens to be married to Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton. In addition to the Rams, Kroenke owns a vast portfolio of sports teams that also includes the English Premier League team Arsenal, the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
3. (Tied) Jerry Jones, 77, Dallas Cowboys
Net worth: $8.5 billion
Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for roughly $140 million and he's overseen a successful, three-decade run that has included three Super Bowl wins while increasing the team's value to $5.5 billion, which is by far the highest valuation of any NFL team, according to Forbes. Now a billionaire, Jones originally inherited millions of dollars from his father's insurance firm and used that money to start his own successful oil and gas exploration company, which served as the source of the money he used to buy the Cowboys.
In 2018, Jones' oil and gas company, Comstock Resources, acquired rival Covey Park Energy in a $2.2 billion deal.
3. (Tied) Shahid Khan, 69, Jacksonville Jaguars
Net worth: $8.5 billion
Khan bought the Jaguars for about $760 million in 2011 to become the league's first ethnic minority owner. Born in Pakistan, Khan moved to the U.S. as a teenager to attend college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked as a dishwasher making $1.20 an hour to help cover his tuition costs. While still in school, he later landed a job at the auto parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate as an engineer. Khan left the company to start his own business, Bumper Works, in 1978 and went on to make a fortune making lightweight car bumpers.
In 1980, Khan bought Flex-N-Gate and combined it with Bumper Works, and the company now reportedly sees roughly $7.5 billion in annual revenue, as of October 2018.
5. Stephen Ross, 79, Miami Dolphins
Net worth: $7.6 billion
Ross is a former tax attorney who founded his private real estate business in the 1970s with a $10,000 loan from his mother. Today, that business — Related Companies — owns a portfolio of assets valued at more than $60 billion that includes huge developments like Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards in New York City, along with stakes in companies like luxury fitness brands Equinox and SoulCycle (which faced some recent backlash as a result of Ross's fundraising on behalf of President Donald Trump).
6. Robert Kraft, 78, New England Patriots
Net worth: $6.9 billion
Kraft started his career working for his father-in-law's packaging company before branching out to found his own paper products business, called International Forest Products. He later bought out his father-in-law and combined the two companies, building one of the world's largest suppliers of paper products and packaging materials. He bought the Patriots in 1994 for about $175 million and the franchise is currently valued at $4.1 billion after winning six championships in the past two decades.
7. Arthur Blank, 77, Atlanta Falcons
Net worth: $5.5 billion
In 1978, Blank co-founded The Home Depot with partner Bernie Marcus after they'd both been fired from executive jobs at a hardware store chain that later went out of business. Blank spent nearly two decades as president of The Home Depot before taking over for Marcus as CEO for four years, and then retiring in 2001. He bought the Falcons for $545 million in 2002, and the franchise is now valued at more than $2.75 billion, according to Forbes.
8. Terry Pegula, 68, Buffalo Bills
Net worth: $4.9 billion
Pegula made his fortune in the natural gas business, building a multi-billion dollar empire through the controversial practice of "fracking." His company, East Resources, sold most of its assets to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion in 2010. Pegula used some of those assets to build a portfolio of sports properties, including the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the Bills. He and wife Kim bought the NFL team in 2014 for $1.4 billion after winning a competitive bidding process that also included musician Jon Bon Jovi and future President Donald Trump.
9. Stephen Bisciotti, 59, Baltimore Ravens
Net worth: $4.5 billion
When he was just 23, Bisciotti founded a staffing company with his cousin out of a basement office in Annapolis, Maryland. That company eventually became Allegis Group, which is now the largest private staffing firm in the country, with annual revenue topping $12 billion as of 2018. He paid a total of about $600 million to buy the Ravens, starting out as a minority owner in 2000 before acquiring the full ownership stake four years later. The franchise is valued at $2.75 billion today.
10. Janice McNair, 83, Houston Texans
Net worth: $4 billion
McNair took over ownership of the Texans after her husband, Robert, died in 2018. Robert McNair worked as an ad salesman and struggling entrepreneur for years before founding energy company and power plant operator Cogen Technologies in 1984. The company was successful and he sold it to Enron in 1999 for $1.5 billion (two years before the latter filed for bankruptcy). That same year, McNair paid the NFL $700 million for an expansion franchise in Houston, the Texans, which is now worth $3.1 billion.
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