Lamar Hunt, Sports Visionary, Dead at 74

Lamar Hunt
Lamar Hunt

Lamar Hunt died on Wednesday night at the age of 74. You'll read all the stories today about how much of a sports visionary he was. And he really was all that. One of the men behind the AFL-NFL merger. Owner of the Kansas City Chiefs for 47 years; originally the Dallas Texans until they moved to Kansas City in 1963. Co-founder of the North American Soccer League, the World Championship Tennis League and Major League Soccer (his family still owns the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas) and the man credited with coming up with the phrase "Super Bowl."

You will read all that today in numerous obituaries which are well deserved.

But you will read somewhere here that you will find nowhere else today and it's actually a better story about Lamar Hunt that the whole "Super Bowl" story, which is told over and over again.

You see, Lamar Hunt was a brave man and a smart one. Because nine years ago, he thought about what would happen when this day would come -- the day he would pass away. Many of us don't like to think about that, but because he did, he saved his family $246 million, according to my rough calculations.

Now let me take you through the math.

In 1960, Hunt bought the Kansas City Chiefs for $25,000. As he saw the value of his club rise, he thought more about how he would make it easier to pass it on to his family. His son Clark after all is the current Chairman of the the franchise. So in 1997, he brilliantly transferred 80 percent of the team to his daughter and three sons. He was forced to pay a gift tax equal to the estate tax, which was a 55 percent hit, but the team at the time -- according to Financial World Magazine -- was only worth $188 million.

"It's something I thought about doing for a number of years," Hunt told the New Orleans Times-Picayune six years ago. "If I was real farsighted, I would have done it when the franchise was worth $10 million. But for some people, it's hard to think in terms of dying. They don't want to admit it could happen to them at any time. In that sense, I was a foot-dragger."

So he essentially paid that gift tax of around $83 million in 1997. Today, the value of the team -- according to Forbes is $894 million. Eighty percent of that number is $715 million. If he still owned that and wanted to fully transfer it to his family, he'd be hit with the current estate tax charge of 46 percent. That means that if his family wanted to take the team from his ownership (this would of course exclude his wife who could be transferred the team at no fee), they would have to pay $329 million in taxes. Thus a savings of $246 million.

To read more about sports owners and estate taxes, I wrote this story last year.

Questions? Comments?