A few months ago, Michael Jordan stood out as the only Black celebrity and entrepreneur with a majority stake in a major sports franchise. He had a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets until he sold his majority stake which put him into the multi-billionaire status.
As things stand now, there are no Black celebrities or business people who have a majority stake in one of the four major sports, even though Black athletes dominate the team rosters in the major sports including the NFL and NBA. For some analysts, this represents the racial wealth gap in America. Of the over 2,000 billionaires in the world, only about 15 of them are Black.
Jodi Balsam, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, told the Guardian that NFL owners wouldn’t mind having Black majority ownership but this would be difficult due to the current requirements.
“Whoever is proposing to be the majority owner of the team must personally, individually as a human being, own 30% of the equity,” said Balsam. “So if you have a team worth $6bn, 30% of the equity is roughly $2bn. You need to have an individual owner who could come up with $2bn liquid who can be part of that owner’s group.”
Nonetheless, the following Black celebrities and entrepreneurs have minority stakes in sports franchises:
Jordan had a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets until he agreed to sell it for $3 billion. The deal ended his 13-year run as majority owner, according to ESPN. Jordan retains a minority ownership share of the team.
Michael B. Jordan
He recently invested in the Formula 1 team, Alpine, in partnership with Wrexham FC owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny, according to Deadline. The three are part of a collective of investors in the Renault-owned team, who have taken a 24% stake worth a total of $220M, the platform said.
Jordan also has a stake in AFC Bournemouth, an English football club competing in the Premier League.
When Michael Jordan decided to sell the Charlotte Hornets to a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall for $3 billion, one of the investors was J. Cole.
The Buyer Group, a statement on the deal noted at the time, will also include Chris Shumway, Dan Sundheim, Ian Loring, Dyal HomeCourt Partners, and North Carolina native recording artist, J. Cole. Others include country music singer-songwriter, Eric Church, and several local Charlotte investors like Amy Levine Dawson and Damian Mills.
Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are minority shareholders of the Philadelphia 76ers. “The deal to sell the Sixers to a group led by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris has been completed,” the Associated Press reported in 2011.
Will, who is from Philadelphia, has been at the forefront of promoting the city. One of his memorable quotes is “In West Philadelphia born and raised…” Not only did he promote the name of his city but he also promoted the Philadelphia 76ers, leveraging his star power.
LeBron James has a controlling interest in the Pittsburgh-based NHL team Pittsburgh Penguins. He also owns stakes in the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC and Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.
James recently became the first active NBA player to hit billionaire status, joining a handful of sports athletes who have earned $1 billion while still active. They include Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Roger Federer.
Serena Williams and Venus Williams
In 2009, Serena Williams and Venus Williams each became part owners of the Miami Dolphins. Today, the team is estimated to be worth $4.6 billion. They became the first Black women to partly own an NFL team. Meanwhile, Serena and her daughter, Olympia, are also co-owners of the Los Angeles Golf Club.
Magic Johnson co-owns multiple sports teams, including the Washington Commanders, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Sparks, and the Los Angeles Football Club.
Renee Montgomery is a former WNBA player. The 36-year-old is also one of the three owners of the Fan Controlled Football (FCF) Beasts Indoor Football Team. What is more, she is also the first WNBA player to become an owner and executive of a professional sports team and the first female owner in the FCF.
She is also an investor in the Atlanta Dream.
Sheila Johnson is well known as a co-founder of BET. Besides her investment in the media space, she is also a sports investor. She has stakes in the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and the Washington Mystics.