Celebs and star athletes are eating up soccer ownership

By Dylan Butler | Posted 2 years ago

Three announcements in a little more than a week is added proof of something we’ve already known — celebrities are getting a kick out of owning soccer teams. 

On Wednesday, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant became a minority owner of Gotham FC in the NWSL. That came a week after recently retired soccer icon Carli Lloyd joined the ownership group that includes New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy as majority owners. 


Durant also purchased a 5% ownership stake in the Philadelphia Union in 2020, with an option to purchase an additional 5% in the near future. 


On April 26, it was announced award-winning actor and producer Reese Witherspoon and her husband, media and technology investor Jim Toth, as well as Tennessee Titans All-Pro running back Derrick Henry joined the Nashville SC ownership group. 


The “why” seems to be relatively straightforward. As sports franchises go, soccer clubs are generally more inexpensive to purchase than counterparts in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. And the return on that investment, for a sport that continues to grow and could be on the verge of exploding in North America with the 2026 World Cup hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. 


As for the other “who’s,” it's some of the biggest names in sports, movies, and television.


Matthew McConaughey is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars and he immediately gave Austin FC, which joined MLS as an expansion club last year, a face. He also has the coolest title in MLS, serving as the club’s Minister of Culture, one he also holds at the University of Texas in his hometown. 

The Oscar-winning actor famously donned a green suit and banged a bongo drum to hype up the crowd before the club’s first home game. 


When Austin FC met LAFC a year ago for the first time, McConaughey and Will Ferrell engaged in some fun banter in the leadup to that match.

“Will and I are having a war of words right now, we’re having fun with some words back and forth," McConaughey told media on a virtual press conference last April. "I’ll probably talk to him before the game this weekend, we’ll lay some sort of bet on it to start. I think we’ll have many more bets to come.”

Ferrell is just one of LAFC’s celebrity owners, joined by NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, soccer legend Mia Hamm and her husband, former MLB All-Star Nomar Garciaparra.

Los Angeles’ NWSL club, Angel City FC touts an almost all-female ownership group that includes Academy Award-winning actor and activist Natalie Portman as a founder and singer Christina Aguilera, former U.S, women’s national team standout Shannon Boxx and actors Sophia Bush, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain among a bevy of investors. 

Alsoin the NWSL, former NBA player Tony Parker has a 3%stake in OL Reign in 2020 and tennis star Naomi Osaka purchased a minority interest in the North Carolina Courage last year. 

The Houston Dash and Dynamo have former boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya and NBA star James Harden as minority owners. 

Speaking of basketball royalty, 13-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade joined the Real Salt Lake ownership group a year ago, Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash, who twice won the NBA’s MVP award and was an eight-time All-Star, became a co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps when the club joined MLS in 2011. 


NFL quarterbacks have also tossed their hats, or helmets, into the soccer ownership ring with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, a league MVP and Super Bowl winner by the age of 25, joining the Sporting Kansas City ownership group. His wife, Brittany Matthews, is a co-owner of the Kansas City Current in the NWSL. 

Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos, a seven-time Pro Bowler, joined a large group of investors in the Seattle Sounders in 2019, when he was the face of the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson’s wife, Ciara, a Grammy Award-winning musical artist, is also among the owners. 


The Sounders, who became the first MLS club to win the Concacaf Champions League last week, also tout actor and Price is Right host Drew Carey, Seattle Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. and four-time Grammy winning artist Macklemore of “Thrift Shop” fame among its owners. 


Mark Ingram II, a three-time NFL Pro Bowl running back and Heisman Trophy winner who currently plays for the New Orleans Saints, became a minority owner of D.C. United in 2021. 

Staying in the capitol district, NHL star Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, former gold-medal gymnast Dominique Dawes and, perhaps fittingly, Jenna Bush Hager and Chelsea Clinton, daughters of former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, are minority investors of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. 

And last, but certainly not least, David Beckham, one of the most famous soccer players of all-time is a co-owner of Inter Miami. The chase to own an MLS club at a discounted rate, was part of Beckham’s contract when he made global headlines on his move to the LA Galaxy in 2007. 

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