Steve Ballmer, worth $30 billion:
Steve is the world’s richest sports team owner for the third straight year. He bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, which rocked the NBA when racially charged comments made by Sterling were made public.
The Clippers purchase was 10% of Ballmer’s fortune at the time and many pegged it as an over-pay for a basketball junkie who wanted into the exclusive NBA owners club. Ballmer’s timing was perfect as the league inked a new $24 billion TV deal months later and the average NBA franchise value is up 114% over the past three years.
Microsoft’s stock price is up 20% over the last 12 months (the S&P 500 rose 16%), which helped push Ballmer’s net worth up $6.5 billion from a year ago.
Ballmer dropped out of Stanford’s MBA program in 1980 to join Microsoft as employee No. 30. He served as CEO from 2000 to 2014. Ballmer is the 35th richest person in the world according to Forbes, with an estimated wealth of $22.2 billion. While CEO of Microsoft in 2009, Ballmer earned a total compensation of $1,276,627, which included a base salary of $665,833, a cash bonus of $600,000, no stock or options, and other compensation of $10,794.
Mukesh Ambani, worth $23.2 billion
Ambani, is an Indian oil and gas tycoon. He is the second richest sports team owner on the planet with a net worth of $23.2 billion, up nearly $4 billion from a year ago.
He was one of the original owners in the Indian Premier League, which was launched in 2008. He owns the Mumbai Indians cricket franchise through his company Reliance Industries. He runs $44.5 billion (revenue) Reliance, which was founded by his father in 1966 and ranks among India’s most valuable companies.
Today, Ambani is the richest person in India with a net worth of $18.5 billion. His countrymen believe he will be the richest person on earth one day soon.
Paul Allen, worth $19.9 billion:
Paul Allen ranks third in the world as the richest sports team owner. He also made his fortune with Microsoft as a co-founder of the company with Bill Gates. He bought the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and NFL’s Seattle Seahawks after leaving Microsoft.
Dietrich Mateschitz, worth $13.4 billion:
Dietrich Mateschitz, the Red Bull owner rounded out the top five. Mateschitz is the richest person in soccer and auto racing through his stakes in the New York Red Bulls of MLS and two Formula 1 teams, Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Philip Anschutz, worth $12.5 billion:
Anschutz owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and MLS’ LA Galaxy. He also owns a one-third stake in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. Ballmer and Allen lead a group of 20 NBA majority owners or managing partners.
The sport is wildly attractive right now because of soaring revenues and the global opportunities of the sport. “There are a lot of prospective buyers for NBA franchises, but no sellers right now,” says Sal Galatioto, who runs an investment bank focused on the sports industry.
Other loaded NBA owners include Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov ($8.9 billion), who has been shopping a minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets, Micky Arison ($8.1 billion) of the Miami Heat and Stanley Kroenke ($7.5 billion) of the Denver Nuggets.
Nineteen NFL teams are owned by billionaires, led by Allen, Shahid Khan ($8.2 billion) of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kroenke, who also owns the recently relocated Los Angeles Rams.
The explosion in NFL values has produced more billionaires than any other league with eight people in the 10-figure net worth club as result of the value of their NFL franchises.
There are 11 MLB teams owned or which have a managing partner as a billionaire. Longtime Detroit Tigers owner Michael Ilitch died last month at 87. His wife and family are baseball’s richest at $6 billion.
They are followed by Charles Johnson ($6 billion), who runs the San Francisco Giants, and Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner ($5.3 billion). Anschutz ranks as the richest in hockey, followed by Hasso Plattner ($11.2 billion), who co-founded German software company SAP in 1972 and owns the San Jose Sharks, and then Kroenke, who owns the Colorado Avalanche.
Outside of team ownership, more than a dozen other billionaires can credit their fortunes to sports. Nike cofounder Phil Knight, who retired as chairman in June after 52 years with the company, is worth $26.2 billion, No. 28 in the world. Under Armour was the worst-performing sports stock in 2016 and the net worth of company founder Kevin Plank took a 38% hit over the past year to $2 billion.
Plank fell behind Ding Shijia and Ding Shizhong ($2.1 billion each) whose fortunes are founded on Chinese sportswear brand Anta Sports. Michael Rubin, who made his fortune in online retailing and runs Fanatics, is worth $2.3 billion.
James France inherited an estimated 36% of Nascar, which his father started in 1948. He is worth $2 billion. Longtime F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone relinquished his post atop the sport in January as part of Liberty Media Corp.’s purchase of F1. Ecclestone is worth $2.9 billion.
Networth, source of wealth & team
1. (No. 21 overall) Steve Ballmer Net worth: $30 billion Source of wealth: Microsoft Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2. (33) Mukesh Ambani Net worth: $23.2 billion Source of wealth: Petrochemicals, oil & gas Team: Mumbai Indians
3. (42) Paul Allen Net worth: $19.9 billion Source of wealth: Microsoft, investments Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers
4. (86) Dietrich Mateschitz Net worth: $13.4 billion Source of wealth: Red Bull Teams: New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso
5. (96) Philip Anschutz Net worth: $12.5 billion Source of wealth: Investments Teams: Los Angeles Kings, LA Galaxy
6. (118) Hasso Plattner & family Net worth: $11.2 billion Source of wealth: Software Team: San Jose Sharks
7. (139) Roman Abramovich Net worth: $9.1 billion Source of wealth: Steel, investments Team: Chelsea
8. (145) Mikhail Prokhorov Net worth: $8.9 billion Source of wealth: Investments Team: Brooklyn Nets
9. (158) Shahid Khan Net worth: $8.2 billion Source of wealth: Auto parts Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
10. (159) Micky Arison Net worth: $8.1 billion Source of wealth: Carnival Cruises Team: Miami Heat
11. (182) Stanley Kroenke Net worth: $7.5 billion Source of wealth: Sports, real estate Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Arsenal, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche
12. (186) Stephen Ross Net worth: $7.4 billion Source of wealth: Real estate Team: Miami Dolphins
13. (199) Silvio Berlusconi & family Net worth: $7 billion Source of wealth: Media Team: AC Milan
14. (239) Marian Ilitch & family Net worth: $6 billion Source of wealth: Pizza Teams: Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers
15. (250) Daniel Gilbert Net worth: $5.8 billion Source of wealth: Quicken Loans Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
15. (250) Charles Johnson Net worth: $5.8 billion Source of wealth: Money management Team: San Francisco Giants
17. (269) Richard DeVos & family Net worth: $5.6 billion Source of wealth: Amway Team: Orlando Magic
17. (269) Joe Lewis Net worth: $5.6 billion Source of wealth: Investments Team: Tottenham Hotspur FC
19. (303) Jerry Jones Net worth: $5.2 billion Source of wealth: Dallas Cowboys Team: Cowboys
20. (315) Robert Kraft Net worth: $5.1 billion Source of wealth: New England Patriots Team: Patriots