The NFL is the crown jewel of American sports leagues and 32 of the richest individuals in the world form an exclusive club of team owners.
The league is growing in popularity around the world, while insane amounts of money are being injected into the game via record-breaking TV deals. New 10-year pacts involving Amazon, ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC – finalised in March 2021 – are worth a staggering $110billion (£88bn). Being an NFL team owner is a pretty sweet deal.
Ownership is a different beast in America compared to that of European soccer. US Sports leagues are run with a franchise model, meaning there is no possibility of relegation. If a soccer team gets relegated, the value of the team can take a massive hit, but this won’t happen in the NFL. Instead, owners can be confident the value of their investment will only grow.
As well as growing revenues, the salary cap means team owners know exactly what their maximum outlay is each year for player wages. Another reason why this exclusive club is pretty hard to get into.
NFL team owners and their franchise values
So, who are the billionaire individuals behind the NFL teams? Who are the decision makers and how much is each franchise worth?
We run down the 32 NFL owners listed in order of estimated franchise value by Forbes in 2021:
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Arkansas oilman who bought the loss-making Cowboys for $140million back in 1989. They won three Super Bowls in the next seven years, but it has been barren times since in terms of Lombardi trophies. Not so financially though – Dallas is a money-making machine.
Estimated franchise value: $6.5billion
Robert Kraft, New England Patriots
The Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, Robert Kraft bought the New England Patriots in 1994 for a then NFL record $172million, having previously purchased Foxboro Stadium. The Patriots have won six Super Bowls since, becoming the dynasty of the early 2000s.
Estimated franchise value: $5billion
John Mara & Steven Tisch, New York Giants
Founded by Tim Mara in 1925, the New York Giants have remained in the family since inception. In 1991, the grandson of the founder, also named Tim, sold half the franchise to Bob Tisch for $80million. Their descendants John and Steve took control in 2005.
Estimated franchise value: $4.85billion
Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles Rams
Kroenke is also the owner of English Premier League soccer club Arsenal. He has a vast sporting portfolio which also includes the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS.
Estimated franchise value: $4.8billion
The Walton-Penner Family, Denver Broncos
Say hello to the newest member of the NFL owners’ club. Rob Walton is in the closing stages of purchasing the Broncos for a record $4.5billion from the Pat Bowlen Trust. Bowlen had paid just $70million for the team back in 1984. Walton is the former chairman of Walmart and becomes the NFL’s richest owner with an estimated net worth of $60billion.
Estimated franchise value: $4.65billion
Daniel Snyder, Washington Commanders
Snyder purchased the Commanders and their FedEx Field stadium for $800million in 1999. Since then, his ownership has been underwhelming at best, a disaster area at worst. A once great franchise has not been near a Super Bowl since he acquired the team.
Estimated franchise value: $4.2billion
49ers Enterprises, San Francisco 49ers
49ers Enterprises, owned by Denise DeBartolo and John York since 1999, controls the five-time Super Bowl Champions. The company also owns a 44% share in English Premier League soccer team Leeds United.
Estimated franchise value: $4.175billion
The McCaskey Family, Chicago Bears
Virginia Marion Halas McCaskey is the principal owner of the Chicago Bears – she is the eldest child of the franchise’s founder George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas. She has held the position since 1983, and is currently the longest tenured owner in the NFL at the age of 99.
Estimated franchise value: $4.075billion
The Johnson Family, New York Jets
Woody Johnson purchased the New York Jets in 2000 for the princely sum of €635million. After Woody became the U.S. ambassador to London in 2017 as part of the Trump administration, his brother Christopher took co-ownership of the Jets. Woody also tabled a bid to purchase Chelsea Football Club in 2022.
Estimated franchise value: $4.05billion
Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles
A film producer prior to purchasing the Eagles in 1994 for $195million, Jeffrey Lurie has become a leading figure in the city. He helped bring a first Super Bowl title to City of Brotherly Love in 2018.
Estimated franchise value: $3.8billion
Janice McNair, Houston Texans
McNair and husband Bob founded the Houston Texans in 2002 as the team became the 32nd NFL Franchise. Janice is now the sole principal owner after her husband’s death in 2022.
Estimated franchise value: $3.7billion
Paul G. Allen Trust, Seattle Seahawks
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen headed up the ownership group of the Seattle Seahawks before his passing in 2018, and it is now led by his sister Jody. Prior to his death, Paul was also involved in the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Sounders of the MLS.
Estimated franchise value: $3.5billion
Shareholders, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is the only community-owned franchise in the NFL. The team is chaired by Mark H. Murphy and there are a total of 537,000 stockholders [as of 2022] involved in Green Bay Packers, Inc.
Estimated franchise value: $3.475billion
Daniel Rooney Trust, Arthur Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have been under the ownership of the Rooney family since the franchise’s inception in 1933, with current president Art Rooney II the grandson of Steelers founder Art Rooney.
Estimated franchise value: $3.43billion
Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins
Chairman and founder of real estate developers Related Companies, Ross first acquired 50% of the Dolphins in 2008 before buying another 45% stake the following year. Ross, who grew up in South Florida, has been a fan of the team since he was a child.
Estimated franchise value: $3.42billion
Mark Davis, Las Vegas Raiders
Current Las Vegas Raiders owner Davis took over the franchise following the death of his father Al Davis in 2011. Davis oversaw the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas, with the franchise playing its first season in Nevada during the 2021 season.
Estimated franchise value: $3.415billion
Steve Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens
Aerotek founder Bisciotti, who attended Baltimore Colts games as a child, first bought a 49% stake in the Ravens in 2000 and then acquired the remaining 51% from Art Modell for $325million in 2004.
Estimated franchise value: $3.4billion
Zygi Wilf, Minnesota Vikings
Real estate developer Wilf has been owner and chairman of the Minnesota Vikings following the Wilf family’s purchase of the franchise in 2005 for an estimated $600million. Under his ownership, the team moved into its current 66,000-capacity home U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016.
Estimated franchise value: $3.35billion
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Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts
Irsay inherited the Colts following the death of his father Robert Irsay in 1997. That was 13 years after Robert had infamously moved the team to Indy from Baltimore. The Colts won their second Super Bowl under Irsay ownership in 2006.
Estimated franchise value: $3.25billion
Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons
The Home Depot co-founder Blank bought the Atlanta Falcons from Taylor Smith for $545million in 2002. He is also the owner of Major League Soccer team Atlanta United.
Estimated franchise value: $3.2billion
The Glazer Family, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been owned by the Glazer Family since Malcolm Glazer bought the franchise for a then-record price of $192million in January 1995. Joel, Bryan and Edward Glazer are all currently co-chairmen of the Bucs. The Glazers of course are arguably more famous for being the owners of English Premier League soccer giant Manchester United.
Estimated franchise value: $2.94billion
The Hunt Family, Kansas City Chiefs
Lamar Hunt was the founder of the Dallas Texans in the American Football League (AFL), but he later moved the team to Kansas City and renamed his team the Chiefs. Lamar’s father was the oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, and the team is now run by his son Clark.
Estimated franchise value: $2.93billion
Dean Spanos, Los Angeles Chargers
Billionaire real estate developer Alex Spanos acquired the Chargers way back in 1984. While his son Dean took charge of the team in 1994, he didn’t get full ownership until his father’s death in 2018. Spanos was central to the team’s move to Los Angeles in 2017.
Estimated franchise value: $2.92billion
David Tepper, Carolina Panthers
Tepper is the founder and president of Appaloosa Management – a global hedge fund based in Florida. He purchased the Panthers from Jerry Richardson in May 2018 for $2.2billion. Tepper had previously bought a 5% stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Estimated franchise value: $2.91billion
Gayle Benson, New Orleans Saints
Gayle Benson became Saints owner when her husband Tom Benson passed away in 2018. He had bought the team in 1985 and was a car dealership owner and banker. Gayle also owns the New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise.
Estimated franchise value: $2.825billion
Shahid Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars
Pakistani-American businessman and billionaire Shahid Khan is the principal owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and also of English soccer team Fulham. Khan also attempted to purchase Wembley Stadium in recent years, and he has been a huge driver behind bringing NFL games to the UK.
Estimated franchise value: $2.8billion
Michael Bidwill, Arizona Cardinals
Michael Bidwill, a former federal prosecutor who spent six years in law, inherited the Arizona Cardinals from his father Bill Bidwill in 2019. His grandfather Charles Bidwill had initially bought the franchise in 1933 when they were based in Chicago. The team also had a spell in St Louis before eventually landing in Arizona.
Estimated franchise value: $2.65billion
Amy Adams Strunk, Tennessee Titans
The daughter of late owner Bud Adams, Amy Adams Strunk grew up in the family business and inherited a third of the Titans on her father’s death. She acquired a further 17% of the team from her sister in 2020, with the other half now owned by her nephews.
Estimated franchise value: $2.625billion
Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Cleveland Browns
Jimmy Haslam bought a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, before reaching an agreement with Randy Lerner to buy the Browns for $1bllion some four years later. Haslam built his fortune in haulage before getting into NFL team ownership.
Estimated franchise value: $2.6billion
The Ford Family, Detroit Lions
Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp is the current principal owner of the Lions, having inherited the team from her mother and father in 2020. William Clay Ford paid just $6million to buy the team way back in 1964 – that’s a pretty nice profit for the family since then.
Estimated franchise value: $2.4billion
Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals
Owner and General Manager of the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Brown inherited the team from his father Paul Brown in 1991. In addition to owning the team, Brown works with the coaching staff as the de facto head of the front office.
Estimated franchise value: $2.275billion
Terry and Kim Pegula, Buffalo Bills
Terry and Kim Pegula own the Pegula Sports and Entertainment company, which in turn owns both the Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Away from sport, the pair own JKLM Energy and are ‘natural gas’ tycoons.
Estimated franchise value: $2.27billion