From the Stage to the Owners Box

January 17, 2019

It takes a lot of money to buy even a portion of a pro sports team. How’s someone supposed to get those millions of dollars together? Try being a huge success in the world of entertainment!

Who has stakes in the Arena Football League?

Over the last 30 years, lots of upstart football leagues have tried to compete with the NFL, and they’ve come and gone. The only one that’s really found a toehold is the Arena Football League, whose teams play on a smaller field in indoor facilities. Rocker Jon Bon Jovi gave the league a lot of publicity when he appeared in TV ads for game broadcasts in the 2000s, a period in which he co-founded and co-owned the AFL’s Philadelphia Soul. Bon Jovi also inspired other musicians to put their money into arena football. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS owned a team called the Los Angeles Kiss, Vince Neil of Motley Crue held a stake in the Las Vegas Outlaws, and country star Tim McGraw owned a piece the Nashville Kats.

Which pop stars owned basketball teams?

Pop music is so lucrative that scoring only a handful of hits can lead to owning a part of a professional sports franchise. Remember C+C Music Factory? In the early ‘90s, they topped the charts with dance-pop hits like “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” featuring the rapping of Freedom Williams. He took his cash and invented in the Atlanta Krunk of the Continental Basketball Association, a second-tier NBA competitor. And Bobbie Gentry, who had a #1 hit in 1967 with the unsettling Southern Gothic country song “Ode to Billy Joe” was one of the first owners of the Phoenix Suns. (Legendary “Moon River” crooner Andy Williams also owned a piece of the Suns.)

Boy bands and minor league baseball

As far as the “boy band” craze of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, went, the “major leaguers” were NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, as opposed to “minor leaguers” like 98 Degrees. But still, that group sold enough records that lead singer Nick Lachey was able to buy a 33 percent stake of, oddly enough, a minor league baseball team: the Tacoma Rainiers.

Comedians and soccer

Comedian, sitcom star, and The Price is Right host Drew Carey has long been a vocal fan of soccer, particularly 20 years ago or so, before Major League Soccer became a very popular and viable sports league. He put his money where his mouth was—he’s a minority owner in the MSL’s Seattle Sounders.

What team does the Fresh Prince own a piece of?

As the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air lyrics famously stated, Will Smith is from “West Philadelphia, born and raised.” After he got some rap star (and movie star) money, he and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, purchased a piece of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

Famous people and Canadian teams

One of the highest profile teams in the Canadian Football League: the Toronto Argonauts. Part of that visibility came about from its 1991 sale to some famous people. Bruce McNall, owner of the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL, bought a majority stake. Hockey great (and Kings player) Wayne Gretzky also bought a piece, as did the great comic actor John Candy.


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