News, Culture & Society

Steve Jobs’s widow buys stake in NBA, NHL franchises

Billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs is reportedly buying a major stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, a multi-billion dollar company that owns three major sports franchises in Washington D.C., as well as the city’s Capital One Arena.

According to The Washington Post, Powell’s investment is worth ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ and will make her the second-highest stakeholder behind Ted Leonisis. Monumental owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, as well as the Arena Football League’s Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade.

The NBA and NHL have yet to approve the sale, according to the report, but that could come sometime this week.

Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective will reportedly control 20 percent of the company that owns Capital One Arena, the NBA’s Wizards, the NHL’s Capitals, and the WNBA’s Mystics

‘We have an agreement with Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of Emerson Collective, to join the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group,’ according to a statement that Monumental issued to The Washington Post. ‘The process is underway and is pending league approvals.’

America’s 21st wealthiest person, according to Forbes, the 53-year-old Powell Jobs is worth an estimated $20 billion. According to The Washington Post: ‘Much of that comes from her stock in Apple, the iconic company co-founded by her late husband Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. She also owns 4 percent of the Walt Disney Company.’

Powell Jobs previously tried to buy the Los Angeles Clippers but was ultimately outbid by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who reportedly paid $2 billion for the franchise.

According to The Washington Post, Powell Jobs’s brothers Brad and Greg are longtime friends with Monumental vice chairman Raul Fernandez after the three attended the University of Maryland together in nearby College Park.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis watches a Washington Mystics game

Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis watches a Washington Mystics game

The Emerson Collective is an organization ‘dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential,’ according to its website.

‘Established and led by Laurene Powell Jobs, we center our work on education, immigration reform, the environment, and other social justice initiatives,’ the mission statement reads. ‘We use a wide range of tools and strategies—partnering with entrepreneurs and experts, parents and policymakers, advocates and administrators—to develop and execute innovative solutions that will spur change and promote equality.’

Late Apple founder Steve Jobs (left) and his widow Laurene Powell Jobs (right) attend the 82nd Annual Academy Awards in 2010

Late Apple founder Steve Jobs (left) and his widow Laurene Powell Jobs (right) attend the 82nd Annual Academy Awards in 2010

Powell Gates has been primarily concerned with investing in schools. She cofounded College Track, a non-profit program aimed at helping disadvantaged students gain acceptance and graduate from college; and she helped launch a high school for homeless and foster youth in Los Angeles with a $10 million donation in September of 2016. 

‘Laurene and Ted share the same commitment to a double bottom line, that the best companies are those that do good in their communities,’ a person familiar with the deal told The Washington Post.

In July the Emerson Collective bought a majority stake in The Atlantic.

Powell Jobs had been romantically linked to former Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, but the two are no longer dating, people familiar with the relationship told The Washington Post. 

As Forbes reported in Feburary, the average NBA franchise is worth around $1.36 billion thanks to 8 percent growth over the previous year. The Wizards were valued at $1 billion in that assessment, but given the fact that the Houston Rockets sold for $2.2 billion last month, it’s likely that the Wizards are worth much more by now. The team plans to open a new practice facility in 2018.

Forbes estimates the Capitals are worth $575 million.

The Wizards (point guard John Wall), Capitals (forward Alexander Ovechkin), and Mystics (forward Elena Delle Donne) all count one of their respective league’s most popular players on their rosters. Wall is a four-time All-Star, Ovechkin has won three Hart trophies as the NHL’s best player, and Delle Donne was previously won the WNBA MVP as a member of the Chicago Sky.