One of the developments we’re seeing among active athletes today is the desire to one day own a sports franchise of their own. It’s definitely a possibility when you consider some of the insane contracts being handed out today – some of which are worth several hundred million dollars.
Active athletes that are smart with their money can do almost anything when they retire. Just look at former San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey, who recently joined the ownership group of his former team. He retired at the end of last season, but will remain close to the team.
It’s worth noting Posey did it with his own money. “Not only do we get the benefit of a youthful perspective, but somebody who has played in the field and worn the orange and black,” said Giants’ chairman, Greg Johnson. “We are privileged having him as part of the ownership group.”
Which Active Athletes Already Own a Sports Franchise?
Athletes becoming minority owners in sports franchises is nothing new. Hall of Fame NBA player Michael Jordan purchased the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Hornets) in 2010 for $275 million – a number that has more than doubled since. Unfortunately, his team hasn’t been winning much.
Other retired athletes that have transitioned to owning a sports franchise include Steve Nash (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Serena Williams (Miami Dolphins), Shaquille O’Neal (Sacramento Kings), Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Dodgers), Dwyane Wade (Utah Jazz), and much more.
Of course, it’s not just retired athletes getting in on the action. There are a variety of active athletes that have already made that transition – some of them you likely know about already, but others might surprise you. Without further ado, let’s see which active athletes own a team!
20. Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin has been racing in the NASCAR Cup Series for the past 18 years, with his last win coming in May 2022. What some people don’t know is that he’s also a minority owner of 23XI, a NASCAR Cup Series team he created with Michael Jordan on September 21, 2020.
They own a two-car team with Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch as their drivers – that’s right, Hamlin doesn’t even race for his own team and literally races against them every weekend. 23XI already has two wins under their belt and has plans of adding Tyler Reddick to the team.
19. Venus Williams
In the summer of 2009, Venus Williams and her sister, Serena Williams, made history as the first African American women to have a minority ownership stake in an NFL team – the Miami Dolphins. At the time, Jimmy Buffet and Jennifer Lopez were also minority owners in Miami.
Serena would have her own spot on this list, but she recently retired and is no longer an active athlete. With that said, her big sister continues to play – though a retirement is in the near future. They’re two of the greatest tennis players of all-time and their legacy will live on forever.
18. Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is one of the newest additions to this list. The Formula 1 legend, who still races for the Mercedes brand, is part of the new ownership group that purchased the Denver Broncos in August 2022 for a record $4.6 billion – the principal owner is Walmart heir Rob Walton.
We’ll see whether his addition leads to any Super Bowls in the coming years, but Hamilton will continue to dominate Formula 1 in the meantime. He’s a seven-time World Drivers’ champion and the all-time record holder in wins (103), pole positions (103), podium finishes (188).
17. Zlatan Ibrahimović
Zlatan Ibrahimović has been an international soccer star since the turn of the century and continues to play for Serie A club AC Milan in Italy. Despite still in his playing days, Ibrahimović became a part-owner of the Hammarby IF – a team that plays in Sweden’s top-flight league.
He actually received a bit of criticism for this, especially from fans of Malmö FF – the Swedish team that Ibrahimović started his career with. A Swedish native himself, many fans were hoping he would invest in his former team. Instead, he bought the 23.5% stake in Hammarby IF.
16. Aaron Jones
The Green Bay Packers are the only publicly owned, nonprofit team in the NFL – there are more than 500,000 stockholders and most of them are just your normal, everyday fans of the team. In 2021, a once-in-a-decade stock sale gave even more people a chance at becoming an owner.
Of course, it wasn’t just fans that grabbed a piece of the action – Packers’ running back Aaron Jones joined in on the fun. In doing so, he officially became an owner-player for the team, something not many athletes can say. It’s a small stake, but it’s still a big deal to some people.
15. AJ Dillon
Don’t worry, we weren’t going to leave AJ Dillon out – he actually joined his fellow running back and bought a stake in the team himself. They not only form one of the best running back duos in the league, but they’re two of the only player-owners in the NFL – a unique accomplishment.
Over the past two seasons, Dillon and Jones have combined for a total of 2,948 rushing yards, 1,080 receiving yards, and 30 total touchdowns. They’re the perfect complement to what Aaron Rodgers can do with the ball – now, if only they can find some quality receivers, all will be good.
14. Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique is easily one of the greatest defenders of this generation and has been a key member of the Barcelona club since 2008, but his ambitions don’t stop on the field. In fact, he is the founder and president of Kosmos Holding, which deals with sports and media investments.
In 2018, Pique purchased FC Andorra – a Spanish football club that plays in the second-tier league in Spain. The following year, he purchased Gimnàstic Manresa, another Spanish football club and in 2021, he became co-owner of KOI – an eSports team. And this is just the beginning.
13. Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson has made a career on the golf course – earning nearly $75 million on the PGA TOUR. Of course, that’s before his lucrative $125 million deal to join LIV Golf. He’s also married to the daughter of Wayne Gretzky, so you can imagine the type of money that’s floating around.
Earlier this year, Gretzky announced that he was part of an ownership group that earned the rights to a National Lacrosse League expansion team in Las Vegas – the Desert Dogs. And you guessed it, Dustin Johnson was a part of that group – along with Steve Nash and Joe Tsai.
12. Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin has spent his entire 17-year career in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. The city has always embraced him and he has always embraced them right back. That’s why it was no surprise when he announced his intent to become a part-owner in the Washington Spirit.
The Spirit play in the National Women’s Soccer League and were at the heart of a lot of controversy in 2021 – around the time Ovechkin announced his intent to become part owner. Unfortunately, it was later reported that he never sent the investment check – so who knows.
11. Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka has been one of the most talented young tennis players since turning professional in 2013 at the age of 15. Now 24 years old, she has faced a few obstacles and challenges along the way, but she’s still one of the most impactful, inspirational, and iconic athletes in the world.
Adding to her impressive resume, which includes four titles, she became a co-owner of the North Carolina Courage – an NWSL team in 2021. “Throughout my career I’ve always received so much love from my fellow female athletes, so that’s why I am proud to share that I am now an owner of the NC Courage.”
10. Candace Parker
Candace Parker is one of the most iconic and legendary basketball players in WNBA history, but her contributions to the sports community goes far beyond the basketball court. In 2020, she became a minority owner of the Angel City FC – an NWSL team – along with her daughter.
She joins two other mother-daughter duos that are part owners of Angel City – Serena Williams and her daughter, Olympia, and Gabrielle Union and her daughter, Lailaa. The Angel City Football Club began play in 2022 and other owners include Mia Hamm and Natalie Portman.
9. Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry is an absolute beast on the football field – he’s currently the most feared running back in terms of sheer size, strength, and ‘dawg’ mentality. He has spent his entire seven-year career with the Tennessee Titans – a franchise and fanbase that has a place in his heart.
He proved just that when he became a minority owner in Nashville SC, a Major League Soccer team that also lists Reese Witherspoon as a part owner. Henry is the fourth NFL player to ever own a stake in an MLS team. The announcement came days after they opened a new stadium.
8. Russell Wilson
Most of us just witnessed Russell Wilson get booed by Seattle Seahawks’ fans when his Denver Broncos strutted into town for Monday Night Football. The Seahawks traded Wilson to Denver this offseason after 10 years in Seattle, so fans had every right to be a little bit salty.
Still, let’s not forget that Wilson and his wife, Ciara, are minority owners in the Seattle Sounders FC – an MLS team. He joined the ownership group in 2019, along with several others – including Macklemore. Whether fans like it or not, Wilson will always have his heart in Seattle.
7. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2005 and became their full-time starting quarterback in 2008 after Brett Favre left. Since then, he has brought the city a Super Bowl and has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play football.
While it might seem like he has had one foot out of Green Bay the past few years, he remains heavily invested in the community. In 2018, he became a minority owner in the Milwaukee Bucks and became the first NFL player to win an NBA championship as an owner in 2021.
6. Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes followed a similar path as Rodgers. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 and became the full-time starter in 2018 after Alex Smith left. Since then, he has brought the city a Super Bowl and is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league today.
Much like Rodgers, Mahomes has also taken a keen interest in ownership – becoming a minority owner in the Kansas City Royals (MLB) in 2020 and Sporting Kansas City (MLS) in 2021. He’s just getting started with his career, so expect more investments in the future.
5. Chris Paul
Chris Paul has built quite a legacy in the NBA and continues to prove he’s one of the best point guards in the game – despite being twice the age as some rookies. Outside of basketball, he’s an avid bowler and even owns a franchise – L.A.X. – in the Professional Bowlers Association.
Not only that, but Paul is a minority owner of a minor league baseball team – Winston-Salem Dash. He was born and raised in Winston-Salem, so it was only natural to see him continue to invest in the community. He also does a lot of charity work in the Winston-Salem area.
4. James Harden
James Harden started his career as the sixth man for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but things changed when he was traded to the Houston Rockets. He would spend nine years with the team and while he never brought them a championship, he brought them a lot of excitement.
While he has since moved on from the Rockets, the Houston community still holds a lot of weight in his heart. In 2019, he became a minority owner in the Houston Dash of the NWSL and the Houston Dynamo of the MLS. He has always been a soccer fan, so this move made sense.
3. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant was once a teammate of Harden in Oklahoma City, but now Durant plays for the Brooklyn Nets and Harden plays for the Philadelphia 76ers. And while Durant has no basketball connection to Philly – like Harden does – Durant does have an ownership stake in the city.
In 2020, Durant joined the Philadelphia Union of the MLS as an investor and community partner – purchasing a 5% stake in the franchise and the opportunity to gain 5% more in the future. It makes you think, could we possibly see Durant take his talents to the 76ers at some point?
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013. Since arriving, he has won two MVP awards, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, an NBA championship, and Finals MVP. It’s safe to say he’s viewed as a king in the Milwaukee area.
And while it would’ve made sense to see him purchase some stock in the Packers – after all, Rodgers is a minority owner in the Bucks – Giannis went a different route. In 2021, he became a minority owner in the Milwaukee Brewers of the MLB – he later said it was a dream come true.
1. LeBron James
LeBron James is one of the most iconic and legendary sports figures of all-time. While he’s nearing the end of his career – though we have no idea when that might come – he’s already a billionaire and could become a multi-billionaire after he retires. Yeah, he has that type of money.
That’s why it’s no surprise to see that he’s already joined the ownership groups of the Boston Red Sox (MLB) and Liverpool FC (Premier League). Not only that, but he has already set his sights on owning an NBA team and he wants them to play in Las Vegas – could you imagine?
Expect More Active Athletes to Join the Ranks
Some of the money that’s being handed to active athletes today is incredible. Mike Trout signed a $426+ million in 2019, Canelo Alvarez signed a $365 million contract in 2018, Mookie Betts signed a $365 million contract in 2020, and Nikola Jokic signed a $264 million contract in 2022.
As athletes become richer, their ambitions will grow stronger. And with minority ownership in sports franchises becoming much more popular in the sports community, the door is open for any active athletes that want to get their feet wet – no matter how large or small the stake.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: What These 20 Well Known Athletes Have Done Since Retirement
We’re excited to see what sports will look like several decades from now, when a majority of the owners are former players that live and breathe the game. It’s one thing that’s lacking from many ownership groups today, but something that’s already starting to change for the better.
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.