The ties between the worlds of sports and entertainment are extensive. From the acting stints of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Jim Brown and others to the singing careers of Bronson Arroyo and Shaquille O’Neal, many athletes long to star on a different stage.
The reverse is true as well, as some of the biggest celebrities long to star on the field. That’s easier said than done, but many celebs have found a different way to get involved in sports: franchise ownership.
From minor-league baseball to the majors, from English soccer clubs to NFL franchises, celebrity owners are everywhere you look. GOBankingRates found some of the biggest celeb names and the franchise they purchased.
Bill Maher: New York Mets
The comedian and TV host joined a group that each paid $20 million for a minority stake in the New York Mets in 2012. The transaction helped the Wilpon family, which held majority ownership in the franchise, raise cash after the family lost money in the Bernie Madoff scandal.
Maher tripled his investment when Steve Cohen bought the Mets in 2020, the New York Post reported.
Gloria Estefan, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez, Serena and Venus Williams: Miami Dolphins
Majority owner Stephen Ross sold minority shares of the Miami Dolphins to a large group of celebrities and athletes in 2009, including Gloria Estefan, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez and Serena and Venus Williams.
The stars reportedly each bought 1% shares of the team for approximately $10 million, as Ross sought to have his ownership group reflect the diversity of the Miami area. (Ross paid $1 billion for his 95% stake in the team that year.)
Lopez has since lost her ownership after her divorce from husband Marc Anthony.
David Letterman: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
The longtime late night talk show host joined Bobby Rahal (and later Mike Lanigan) to form Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which competes in the the IndyCar and SportsCar Championship Series. The team won the Indy 500 in 2004 and 2020.
Letterman bought a small share of the team in 1996. The amount he paid is undisclosed, but the star is reportedly worth around $400 million.
Drew Carey: Seattle Sounders FC
The comedian and TV host no doubt decided “The Price is Right” when he joined a group that formed the Seattle Sounders FC expansion club in 2007.
The overall cost of the franchise was $30 million, but it’s unclear how big Carey’s portion is. He famously described it as “large enough to have a voice but not enough to have final say.”
Jay-Z: Brooklyn Nets
The rapper bought a minority stake in the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets in 2003. He paid $1 million for 1/15 percent of the franchise, according to The Global Coverage.
When Jay-Z founded a sports agency and sought to be an agent, he sold his stake in the NBA franchise in 2013 so he could represent NBA players.
With the triumvirate of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving making the Nets one of the best teams in the NBA, Jay-Z might wish he had his stake back.
Nick Lachey: Tacoma Rainiers
It probably wasn’t “The Hardest Thing” for boy band and reality TV star Nick Lachey to join a group purchasing the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, in 2006.
Lachey had been part of a group that had tried to buy the Cincinnati Reds, but when that fell through, he turned his attention to minor league baseball.
The purchase price isn’t known, but Lachey’s group sold the club to another investment group in 2001. That sale was probably for between $13 million and $17 million, The Olympian reported.
Justin Timberlake: Memphis Grizzlies
Singer, actor, celebrity athlete — Justin Timberlake can seem to do anything he wants. So why not own part of a sports team, too?
Timberlake is a part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, joining the ownership group in 2012. Timberlake was part of the Tennmann Group LLC, which paid $5 million for 2.84% of the team.
Usher: Cleveland Cavaliers
The superstar entertainer was part of a group that bought the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers for a reported $375 million in 2005. His timing was good, as the Cavaliers drafted LeBron James in 2003 and he helped the team to five NBA Finals and the 2016 championship.
Usher paid approximately $9 million for his ownership stake, Forbes reported.
Bill Murray: St. Paul Saints (and Other Teams)
The legendary comedian and actor has always been known for his rabid allegiance to the Chicago Cubs. But Murray is also a huge supporter of minor league baseball.
Murray owns part of the St. Paul Saints (an independent team), often traveling to see them play. He also is a part owner of the Charleston RiverDogs, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brockton Rox.
It’s unknown how much Murray paid for the Saints, but on the team’s website he’s listed as the team psychologist. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith: Philadelphia 76ers
The power couple of singer/actor Will Smith and actress/talk show host Jada Pinkett-Smith bought a minority stake in the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.
It’s unclear how much the couple paid, but the ownership group as a whole paid $280 million for the franchise.
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