UPDATE: Celebrities just can’t stop buying sports teams. Maybe it’s because of the prestige involved, or because sports teams (at least the successful ones) have a way of making a decent amount of money, which makes them what financial experts refer to as “a good investment.” So with plenty of celebs putting down money on professional sports teams, it’s not too tough to add a couple of additional entries to this list, in the interest of expanding knowledge and honoring more celebrities. Because if there’s one thing these famous people need a lot more of, it’s attention.
If you were a movie star making $15 million per movie, or a hip hop mogul worth $500 million, what would you do with all that dough? Build a school in Africa? Fund a new cancer wing at the hospital? Invest in mutual funds?
Hell no. You’re a sports nut. So you’d buy a sports team.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons for wanting to own a professional sports team, but making tons of money usually isn’t one of them. Sure, you can make tons of money. The really terrible owners usually do. But in most cases, if they want to dress a winning team, owners don’t make nearly as much money as they would if they just invested their money.
So really, being a team owner is a labor of love. You do it because you love the game and want to be a part of it. Or at least because you want to seem cool. But you don’t really do it for the money.
Today, let’s have a look at the most notable celebrity team owners around. Some you already know about, but I bet others will surprise you. Either way, they’re living your fantasy life…those bastards.
Leave it to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to go above and beyond the usual modus operandi for celebrities interested in owning a sports team. Enter the Los Angeles Kiss, an arena football franchise named after their band.
Bonus: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley
Magic Johnson has been in the news recently due to his unfortunate relationship with disgraced LA Clippers owner Don Sterling, but he's no stranger to sports team ownership. He's a member of a group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.
Bonus: Magic Johnson
Doesn’t Nick Lachey kind of piss you off? The guy wasn’t even in one of the good boy bands from the '90s (98 Degrees), and yet he owns 1/3 of a baseball team and is married to Jeter’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa Minnillo. I mean, what a life this guy has.
Oh, and the baseball team is the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, farm team for the Seattle Mariners. Lachey purchased a share of the team in 2006, after he failed to become part-owner of his hometown Cincinnati Reds.
13. Nick Lachey
Former Destiny's Child Michelle Williams, along with her former manager Matthew Knowles (yes, Beyoncé's dad), became part owners of the WNBA's Chicago Sky back in 2006. It made a lot of sense from the team's point of view to have her as part owner—now they always someone good to sing the national anthem.
12. Michelle Williams
The majority owner of the Miami Dolphins is Stephen Ross. He owns around 95% of the team. Then there is Wayne Huizenga, who owns around 4% of the team. And, after that, splitting the remaining 1%, are a bunch of celebrities—including Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio.
11. Tie – Gloria & Emilio Estefan
Also part owner of the Miami Dolphins? The Mayor of Margaritaville himself, Jimmy Buffet. The team brought him on board to lock up the over-50 Hawaiian shirt-wearing demographic.
11. Tie – Jimmy Buffet
Fergie, with all her lovely lady humps, is also part owner of the Fins. Apparently they'll sell a stake to anybody.
11. Tie – Fergie
Last but most definitely not least among the celebrity owners of the Miami Dolphins are J-Lo and her ex-hubby Marc Anthony. The Latin superstars may have split up, but they didn't let that get in the way of their business interests. Not only do they still share their portion of the Dolphins, but they still work together on the Univision reality show ¡Q'Viva!: The Chosen.
11. Tie – Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony
You would think with all that money (Bon Jovi earned $125 million in 2011 alone), JBJ could have bought himself a really cool sports team. Instead, from 2004 to 2010, he was co-owner of the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul. But hey, for what it's worth, the Soul did win the ArenaBowl in 2008.
10. Jon Bon Jovi
Turns out this former comedian-turned-host of The Price is Right is a big soccer fan—despite all the diving and low scoring games. Carey bought a minority stake in the Seattle Sounders back in 2009, and has since become the face of the franchise's ownership group. And it turns out they're doing something right up there in Seattle. The Sounders have MLS attendance records and made the playoffs in each of their first three years.
9. Drew Carey
Elton John grew up rooting for English soccer club Watford FC. So in 1977, the megastar said, hell, let's buy the team. So he did. And he owned them for about 30 years.
During that time, the small team from Watford, Hertfordshire, had pretty great success, relatively speaking. They went from the fourth tier of the English football league system all the way to the Premier league and the Football League Championship (the second highest tier) on several occasions.
Sir Elton is no longer the team's owner, but he is still a huge supporter and is active in raising money for the team. For all his loyalty and support, he's been named Honorary President for Life.
8. Elton John
Rapper Nelly is famous for his loyalty to his hometown, St. Louis. However, the guy really wanted to own an NBA team, and since St. Louis can't seem to get one, he had to go to Charlotte. There, Nelly is part-owner of the absolutely putrid Charlotte Bobcats, along with Michael Jordan and BET founder Robert L. Johnson.
Usher purchased a stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers back when they were cool—which is to say, back when LeBron played there, circa 2005. So for a while, court-side seats at Cavs games were a hot commodity among celebs. Today, Usher is still part owner, but the Cavaliers have lost a lot (which is to say, every last ounce) of their cachet.
Late Show host David Letterman grew up in Indianapolis, so of course he's a huge auto racing fan. He bought a small share of Team Rahal in 1996, then increased his ownership percentage in 2004, when Team Rahal became Rahal Letterman Racing. Today they race mostly in the American Le Mans Series, but they regularly compete in the Indy 500, which they won in 2004 with Buddy Rice as their driver.
5. David Letterman
Here's a guy who's in it for love of the game and nothing else. Bill Murray is part owner of not one but four minor league baseball teams: the St. Paul Saints, the Fort Myers Miracle, the Hudson Valley Renegades, and the Charleston Seadogs. He's been known to just show up at games on any given night, in any of these locations, and just hang out with fans, sell programs, coach first base, and basically do whatever he feels like doing. But no matter what that is, he's always having a good time.
4. Bill Murray
At #3 we have another guy whose team ownership is a labor of love. In 2006, Australian Russell Crowe bought his favorite rugby team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Since then he's been a very hands on owner, and has used his international celebrity to attract lucrative sponsorships for the team.
3. Russell Crowe
Everyone knows Will Smith is from West Philadelphia, born and raised, and that on the playground is where he spent most of his days. So when he and his wife had the chance to buy a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers last July, it was a no-brainer. Yeah, they're just minority owners, but very visible ones who are great for PR.
2. Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
At #1 we have Jay-Z. In 2010, he bought a minority stake in the Nets. And unlike most other owners on this list, Mr. Z's investment is probably going to appreciate considerably.
That's because they have now officially rebranded the team. Part one was just being associated with Jay-Z. Part two was moving from lame New Jersey (sorry, New Jersey) to hip Brooklyn. And part three was coming up with a cool new logo. So mark my words: Nets apparel will be the hottest NBA gear for the next 5 years, meaning the Nets themselves will actually be a cool team.
So it's a good time to be Jay-Z. And that's why he takes the top spot.
Bill Murray, Brooklyn Nets, Jay-Z, Miami Dolphins, owners, will smith,