A ranking of every NFL owner based on their past and present business success.
Professional football is a massive industry in America, with the National Football League (NFL) expected to pull in $14 billion in revenue this year alone. As of 2017, the average NFL franchise is worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes, which makes NFL owners a very wealthy group.
Of course, there’s an interesting variety of wealth inhabiting the NFL owners’ boxes that populate football stadiums—a decent mix of old money and new, from a tech billionaire in Seattle to auto industry royalty in Detroit. So, Fortune thought it would be fun to look at the business backgrounds of the NFL owners from each of the NFL’s 32 franchises, both before and after they stepped into the owner’s box.
1) Paul Allen, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen famously co-founded Microsoft along with Bill Gates and he’s been filthy rich ever since. Based on Forbes and Bloomberg estimates, Allen’s net worth is between $20.7 billion and $22.7 billion, making him the richest NFL owner. Allen left Microsoft’s board of directors in 2000, taking on the role of “senior strategy advisor” to the company’s executives, but he’s always kept busy with investments in the technology and sports industries from his privately-held company, Vulcan Inc. (He also owns the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the MLS’ Seattle Sounders).
Allen bought the Seahawks in 1997, when the team’s former owner was threatening to move the NFL franchise, paying only $194 million for a team that Forbes now values at $2.4 billion. The NFL team has been on a roll on the field, as well, with five straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl win in 2013.
2) Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins
A former tax attorney, Ross used a $10,000 loan from his mother in the 1970s to found his private real estate business, Related Companies, which now owns a portfolio of assets valued at more than $50 billion, including massive urban developments like Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards in New York City. Ross continues to serve as chairman of Related, which also owns luxury fitness company Equinox Fitness, the owner of Equinox gyms and SoulCycle.
The Miami Dolphins’ estimated value is $2.575 billion, according to Forbes. Ross paid a total of $1.1 billion for his 95% stake in the NFL team, having completed his buyout of former owner Wayne Huizenga in 2009. While the Dolphins haven’t had much success on the field in recent years, Ross did generate some goodwill when he flew the NFL team’s players and staff, and their families, to Los Angeles before Hurricane Irma struck Florida last month (he also pledged $1 million to hurricane relief efforts). Ross also has a flair for marketing, and made headlines by bringing in celebrities like Gloria Estefan, as well as Serena and Venus Williams as minority owners of the NFL team.
3) Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams owner may not be very popular in St. Louis, but Kroenke was the man who brought the NFL back to Los Angeles for the first time in two decades, starting last year. Another of the NFL’s richest owners, Kroenke made his billions as a real estate developer who has had the distinct advantage of being married to Ann Walton, a Wal-Mart heiress. (Not surprisingly, Kroenke found a lot of success developing shopping plazas in the vicinity of Wal-Mart stores.)
Kroenke, who first bought a stake in the Rams in 1995 and completed the purchase 15 years later, owns Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which now includes the Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, and a large stake in Arsenal Football Club. Forbes’ most recent estimate pegs the Rams’ value at a cool $3 billion—more than double what it was two years ago. (The decision for the NFL team to go Hollywood seems to have worked out in that regard.) However, the team owes the NFL a $645 million relocation fee and Kroenke now has to contend with another L.A. newcomer since the Chargers came to town. Meanwhile, the Rams and the NFL still have to face off with the City of St. Louis, which filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages over the move.
4) Shahid Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars
Perhaps best known for his delightful mustache, the Pakistani-born Khan is one of the NFL’s richest owners, having built the car parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate into a multi-billion dollar company. Khan paid roughly $760 million to acquire the Jaguars in 2011 (a year after being denied a bid to buy the then-St. Louis Rams), making him the first ethnic-minority person to own an NFL team. The billionaire, who also owns the London, England-based football club Fulham, is a proponent of expanding the NFL’s global footprint. The Jaguars feature in the NFL’s annual London-based games and the team has even been rumored as a candidate for a potential move to the U.K.
5) Robert Kraft, New England Patriots
After getting his start at his father-in-law’s Massachusetts packaging materials company, Kraft worked his way up and eventually bought the company. He folded that business into one he founded himself, International Forest Products, which is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of paper products and packaging materials.
The billionaire’s private holding company, The Kraft Group, now controls that business as well as Kraft’s sports empire. He paid $172 million for the New England Patriots in 1994 and the NFL team is now worth $3.7 billion (2nd in Forbes’ ranking) after winning 5 championships since 2001. Kraft also helped found Major League Soccer as the owner of the New England Revolution, and his wide range of sports interests include investments in esports and mixed martial arts.
6) Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys
In the late-1960s, Jones took the millions his father made selling the family insurance firm to finance “wildcatting” oil field plays that ended up making him the small fortune he used to buy the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 for roughly $140 million. Jones promptly fired legendary coach Tom Landry and replaced him with his own former University of Arkansas college football teammate, Jimmy Johnson. Nearly three decades (and three Super Bowl rings) later, the Cowboys are the NFL’s most valuable team, worth an estimated $4.8 billion (outpacing the second-place Patriots by a whopping $1.1 billion). Not bad.
Jones is often criticized for making his own negative headlines and he often butts heads with the media and NFL leadership. But, he’s been able to continue increasing the Cowboys’ value despite not winning a championship in over two decades, partially through big merchandising and licensing deals that bucked established practices, while the massive stadium he opened in Arlington, Tex. in 2009 generates roughly $440 million per year.
7) Terry and Kim Pegula, Buffalo Bills
The Pegulas profited heavily from the past decade’s natural gas boom, namely the controversial “fracking” process, collecting roughly $6.5 billion by selling off the drilling rights and assets of their company East Resources between 2010 and 2014. The married couple then turned that money into the city of Buffalo’s two most prized sports franchises, buying the NHL’s Sabres in 2011 and later saving the NFL’s Buffalo Bills from a possible move to Toronto by outbidding the likes of rocker Jon Bon Jovi and future president Donald Trump for the football team three years later. Kim serves as president and CEO of the holding company that owns both teams and other sports/entertainment assets. The main knock against the pair would be that they paid $1.4 billion for the NFL’s least-valuable franchise, with Forbes pegging the Bills’ value at $1.6 billion, and the NFL team has still yet to win a Super Bowl.
8) Steve Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens
A year out of college, Bisciotti formed a staffing company with his cousin in a basement office in Maryland. That company grew to become Allegis Group, the largest private staffing firm in the U.S., with a reported annual revenue of $11 billion. Bisciotti bought Art Modell’s majority stake in the Ravens in 2004, paying a total of $600 million for the team, which is now worth an estimated $2.5 billion. One of Bisciotti’s signature moves as owner of the Ravens was to build and maintain “The Castle,” the NFL team’s state-of-the-art training facility that is often seen as a draw for visiting free agents when the Ravens are looking to attract more talent.
9) Robert McNair, Houston Texans
In 1999, McNair sold Cogen Technologies, the power plant operator he founded, to Enron for roughly $1.5 billion. Not only did McNair get rich on the deal, but he cashed out his Enron stock not long before it became worthless. Around the same time, the NFL awarded McNair ownership rights for the NFL’s 32nd franchise for a then-record $700 million. McNair was wise to bet on football in Texas, as Forbes now values the team at $2.8 billion (8th in the league) despite not making the playoffs until 2011.
10) Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons
Blank co-founded The Home Depot in 1978 after being fired from a home improvement store in California. He and his partners built the big-box franchise into a Fortune 500 company (it’s been on the list for over two decades) and the country’s fourth-largest retailer, which booked nearly $95 billion in revenue last year. Blank served as the company’s president for almost two decades, and then spent four years as CEO, before retiring in 2001. The next year, he bought the Falcons for $545 million. Today, the NFL team is worth an estimated $2.5 billion after making a trip to the most recent Super Bowl (losing to the Patriots). The NFL team’s value is only expected to rise with the recent opening of its new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Blank-owned professional soccer team, the Atlanta United, also play.
11) Tom Benson, New Orleans Saints
A former car salesman in New Orleans, Benson started building his empire by opening several dealerships in the area. He also made a fortune investing in banks, eventually taking Benson Financial public before selling it to Norwest Banks (itself later sold to Wells Fargo) for $440 million in 1996. Benson bought the Saints for about $70 million in 1985 to keep them in New Orleans after he heard that the NFL team might be sold and moved to Florida. (The Saints are now valued at $2 billion.) His popularity in the area dipped significantly due to years of losing seasons, and after Benson reportedly considered moving the NFL team to San Antonio in the wake of damage from Hurricane Katrina. But, Benson, who also owns the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, kept the NFL team in New Orleans and his popularity rebounded when the Saints eventually won the Super Bowl in 2010.
12) Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins
Being hated doesn’t necessarily make you a bad businessman. From clashing with the media over the NFL team’s name (among other things) to charging fans to attend training camp, Snyder is one of the least-liked owners in professional sports. Of course, Washington Redskins fans are also fed up with the NFL team’s long tradition of mediocrity.
But, before he came to the NFL, Snyder got rich by founding a marketing services company, Snyder Communications, which went public in 1996 when he was only 32, and later saw $1 billion in annual revenue. Snyder sold the company to French advertising giant Havas for $2.1 billion in 2000. A year earlier, he’d paid a then-record $800 million to buy the Redskins, which are now the NFL’s fourth most-valuable team at $3.1 billion.
13) Jerry Richardson, Carolina Panthers
Richardson made his money as a fast-food magnate, but he also has the distinction of being the first former NFL player to own a team since the Chicago Bears’ George Halas. Richardson use his bonus from 1959 Baltimore Colts championship to open a Hardee’s franchise in 1961. He and his partner were the fast-food restaurant’s first franchisees and they went on to open more than 500 Hardee’s franchises around the country, eventually founding Spartan Foods, the chain’s top franchiser. Richardson later sold that business and eventually became CEO of Flagstar, running the Denny’s restaurant chain. (However, Richardson stepped down as head of Flagstar in 1995 with the company losing money and dealing with allegations of racial discrimination.) Richardson and a team of investors paid $206 million to land the new Carolina Panthers franchise in 1993. The NFL team is now valued at $2.3 billion after making a run for the Super Bowl after the 2015 season (ending in a loss to the Denver Broncos).
14) Alex Spanos, Los Angeles Chargers
The 93-year old is a self-made billionaire who turned an $800 loan in 1951 into a successful real estate investment business. A.G. Spanos Companies is now one of the country’s largest apartment developers. Spanos paid less than $50 million for the San Diego Chargers in 1984 and Forbes now values the team at $2.275 billion. Today, the NFL team is run by Alex’s son, Dean Spanos, and the family recently moved the Chargers to Los Angeles after years of failing to land a new stadium in San Diego. Considering the lukewarm reception in Los Angeles (which is still getting used to the idea of two football teams after years of having no NFL presence) and the fact that the Chargers have to pay $645 million in relocation fees over a decade, the Spanos family had better hope the move pays off.
15) John Mara and Steve Tisch, New York Giants
These scions of the two extremely wealthy New York families that split ownership of the Giants each took over control of the NFL team after their fathers, Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch, both passed away, in 2005. Mara is a former attorney who joined the New York Giants’ front office in 1991 and is a longtime member of the NFL’s Competition Committee. Meanwhile, Tisch worked mostly in Hollywood as a producer—he claims to be the only person to win both an Academy Award (for Forrest Gump) and a Super Bowl ring—and he is still a partner at Escape Artists, an independent film studio partnered with Sony.
With the latest generation of the Mara/Tisch families as co-owners, the Giants have won two Super Bowls (2007, 2011) and seen the NFL team’s estimated value roughly triple to $3.3 billion, the third-highest in the NFL.
16) The Glazer family, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In addition to controlling the Buccaneers, the family of former team owner and billionaire real estate magnate Malcolm Glazer, who died in 2014, also runs First Allied Corporation, the Rochester-based real estate holding company their father founded in 1984. The company owns 6.7 million square feet of shopping center space across the country. And, while Glazer paid $192 million for the Bucs in 1995, the NFL team’s value is now estimated at nearly $2 billion. Meanwhile, the family also bought legendary English football club Manchester United in a controversial 2006 deal worth $1.4 billion (Manchester fans have protested Glazer’s ownership due to the amount of debt involved in the deal). Today, the NFL team is worth an estimated $3.7 billion.
17) Woody Johnson, New York Jets
Johnson’s great-grandfather founded the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, so he’s never been wanting for money. He’s also a friend of President Donald Trump, who named the New York Jets owner as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom this summer (his brother has taken over day-to-day operation of the team). That appointment required Johnson to submit financial disclosures to the government that revealed a net worth of roughly $4.2 billion, according to Bloomberg.
A large chunk of that fortune comes from the Jets, which Johnson bought for $635 million in 2000. The NFL team’s value is now estimated at $2.75 billion, though the NFL team’s recent run of futility hasn’t made Johnson any more popular with Jets fans. The Jets are worth an estimated $550 million less than the Giants despite sharing the same lucrative market and New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, which is one of the highest-grossing stadiums in the world.
18) Pat Bowlen, Denver Broncos
Pat Bowlen is still the principal owner of the Denver Broncos, but he stepped down as the NFL team’s chief executive in 2014 due to his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Bowlen is a former lawyer who worked in real estate and at his Canadian family’s oil company, now called Regent Resources. Bowlen and his siblings bought the Broncos for a reported $78 million in 1984 and the NFL team is now worth an estimated $2.6 billion, 11th-best NFL team overall.
19) Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles
Before he bought the Eagles for $195 million in 1994, Lurie had acquired much of his wealth from his family’s movie theater chain, General Cinema. Lurie had also founded a Hollywood production studio, Chestnut Hill Productions, which churned out a string of forgettable titles such as the 1990 Kevin Kline-starring comedy I Love You to Death. (Lurie later won an Academy Award for executive producing the 2011 financial crisis documentary Inside Job, though.) Meanwhile, under Lurie’s ownership, the Eagles’ estimated value has jumped to $2.65 billion—10th in the NFL.
20) Mark and Carol Davis, Oakland Raiders
The 2011 death of longtime Raiders owner Al Davis left the NFL team under the control of his widow, Carol, and his son, Mark Davis. Despite a widely-mocked haircut, the younger Davis has helped turn around the Raiders on-field results by ceding most football decisions to his front office (in stark contrast with his famously, and frustratingly, hands-on father).
Forbes estimates the Raiders’ value at nearly $2.4 billion, a 310% bump from the NFL team’s value in 2011. Part of that growth in value is due to the NFL’s approval this year of the Raiders’ planned move to Las Vegas, starting in either the 2019 or 2020 season. After years of failing to get a new stadium built in Northern California, the Davis family will move the NFL team for the third time in franchise history to play in a $1.9 billion facility in Nevada that will be built with $750 million of public money. If football clicks in Las Vegas, then the Raiders’ move could prove to be very lucrative for the Davis family, but it would be a lot to ask for current Raiders fans to get too excited for the team’s final two seasons in Oakland.
21) William Bidwill, Arizona Cardinals
Bidwill tool over full ownership of the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals team in 1972 (after co-owning the team with his brother for a decade). Bidwill’s father, Charles, originally bought the franchise, then the Chicago Cardinals, in 1933 for $50,000. In 1988, Bill Bidwill moved the NFL team to Phoenix after St. Louis refused to build a new stadium. It took the team a decade to reach the playoffs after arriving in Phoenix, and then another ten years to make it back to the postseason. (Bidwill’s son, Michael, a former federal prosecutor, began serving as team president in 2007.) The Cardinals have found more success in recent years, but the NFL team is still 23rd in the league on Forbes‘ value ranking, at $2.15 billion. Still, Bidwill is the longest-tenured NFL owner, so he must be doing something right.
22) Virginia Halas McCaskey, Chicago Bears
The NFL’s oldest owner at 94 years old, McCaskey inherited the NFL team in 1983 from her father, the legendary Bears coach and owner, George Halas. Her son, George McCaskey, is the NFL team’s chairman (a position held by her husband, Ed, until he died in 2003). Though she generally prefers a hands-off ownership style, McCaskey reportedly cleaned house in 2014, firing the Bears’ head coach and general manager, because she was “pissed off” by the NFL team’s lack of recent success.
23) Clark Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
The Hunt family has owned the Chiefs since their inception, as part of the American Football League, in 1963. Clark Hunt took over as the NFL team’s chairman and CEO upon the death of his father, Lamar Hunt, in 2006. A former analyst at Goldman Sachs and the grandson of an oil tycoon, Clark Hunt was a founding investor in Major League Soccer (the family now owns FC Dallas) and he sits on the MLS Board of Governors. He’s also been active among the NFL’s owners, serving as chair of the NFL’s international committee and as part of the NFL’s executive committee leading negotiations with NFL players for the most recent collective bargaining agreement.
24) Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers
Art Rooney II is the grandson of the Steelers founder (his namesake) and the son of Dan Rooney, the longtime team chairman who died earlier this year. The younger Rooney has been team president since 2003 and previously served as general counsel. Rooney’s grandfather paid only a $2,500 franchise fee to found the Steelers in 1933, and the NFL team is now valued at nearly $2.5 billion, so anything Rooney II does with the NFL team going forward is pretty much gravy.
25) Amy Adams Strunk, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are now under the control of the children of Bud Adams, who founded the NFL franchise (formerly the Houston Oilers) in the 1960s and passed away four years ago. For two years, Adams’ daughter, Susie Adams Smith, was the primary owner, and her husband, Tommy Smith, ran the NFL team as CEO. But, Smith is currently shopping her one-third stake in the NFL team, with the franchise saying the family will retain control of the NFL team after the sale. Since 2015, Amy Adams Strunk has had control of the team, which Forbes values at $2.05 billion. Strunk is a director of KSA Industries, which includes the Titans as well as other companies owned by Bud Adams from the energy and real estate sectors.
26) Martha Firestone Ford, Detroit Lions
Ford took control of the Lions with her husband’s passing in 2014 (a member of the Ford family has controlled the Lions since 1963). Instead of allowing her son, former Ford Motor executive chairman William Clay Ford Jr., to assume the NFL team’s ownership, the now 92-year-old Martha Firestone Ford surprised many people by taking a more hands-on approach. She replaced the long-suffering team’s top executives in 2015 and elevated her three daughters to share the Vice Chairman role with her son.
27) Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals
Brown inherited the NFL team’s ownership from his father (Bengals founder Paul Brown) and spent many years as both the owner and the de facto general manager. Brown’s hands-on approach to running the football team has often been criticized due to a lack of on-field success, with the team failing to win a single playoff game since he took control, in 1991. The NFL team is valued at just $1.8 billion, third-lowest in the NFL.
28) Jed York, San Francisco 49ers
York’s mother, Denise, is the daughter of construction magnate Edward DeBartolo Sr., who bought the 49ers in 1977 and later owned the Pittsburgh Penguins (from 1977-1991). DeBartolo and her husband, retired cancer pathologist John York, appointed Jed to be the team’s president in 2008, when he was just 28 years old. The younger York, who spent one year as an analyst at Guggenheim Partners, is now the NFL team’s CEO. While the 49ers reached the Super Bowl in 2012 (losing to the Ravens), the team has struggled mightily in recent seasons with a revolving door of head coaches and York has received plenty of blame for the dysfunction. Still, Forbes values the team at a whopping $3.05 billion and the 49ers’ state-of-the-art stadium, which opened in 2014, is a big revenue generator for the NFL team and the city.
29) Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts
Irsay inherited the Colts from his father in 1997, when he was only 37 years old. He had joined the NFL team’s front office out of college and the team has had a fairly successful run on the field under his control, with 14 playoff appearances and one championship (it helps when you draft both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck). But, Irsay’s personal issues have also cast a shadow over the NFL team at times, including a 2014 arrest for driving while intoxicated that led to a rehab stint and a six-game suspension by the NFL.
30) Jimmy Haslam, Cleveland Browns
Haslam doesn’t seem to have too many fans these days, as his tenure as the Browns’ owner has been marked by front-office dysfunction, much-criticized personnel decisions, and on-field futility—the NFL team has a 20-60 record going back to 2012. The Browns were the 20th most-valuable team in the NFL when Haslam paid $1 billion for the team in 2012. Now, the NFL team is ranked 29th and valued at $1.95 billion, according to Forbes.
Haslam is also the CEO of Pilot Flying J, the company founded by his father in 1958, that is the country’s largest truck-stop operator and leading seller of diesel gas. Pilot Flying J is one of the largest privately owned companies in America, but in recent years a federal fraud investigation over a scheme to defraud trucking customers of fuel rebates resulted in the company paying $92 million penalty to the government, along with another $85 million to settle claims from a related class action, in 2014. While the company’s president will soon go on trial on fraud charges, Haslam himself has not been charged and he denies knowledge of the scheme.
31) Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf, Minnesota Vikings
Wilf is a real estate developer from New Jersey who helped expand his family’s businesses, Garden Homes and Garden Commercial Properties, which now manage more than 25 million square feet of retail and commercial properties in several states. A team led by Zygi Wilf and other family members bought the Vikings in 2005 for $600 million and Forbes estimates the NFL team’s value is now $2.4 billion following the inaugural season of the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium. That’s good news for Wilf after there was concern over his family’s ability to finance their end of the stadium deal four years ago, when a judge in New Jersey ordered them to pay $84.5 million in damages to two former business partners the court ruled they defrauded in a 1980s deal the judge said violated the state’s civil racketeering laws.
32) Green Bay Packers*
Ok, this pick gets an asterisk, because it’s difficult to assess the exact business acumen of each of the Packers’ 361,060 individual owners, all of whom own shares in the NFL’s only publicly-owned, non-profit franchise. But, it’s worth pointing out (as The Wall Street Journal has) that those Cheesehead “NFL owners” don’t actually get much for their ownership stakes, beyond a souvenir stock certificate, entry to the team’s annual shareholder meeting, and the privilege of buying shareholders-only Packers merchandise (like your own version of the team’s Super Bowl ring). Whatever the perks, the NFL ownership structure has worked well for the NFL team, which is valued at $2.55 billion.