Everybody on earth may be into sports, but those that aren’t are about to be introduced to the quintessential sports-owner type. While there are a small number of unfathomably wealthy people, very little brings out the personalities in these gluttonous capitalists like owning a professional sports franchise. Bill Gates doesn’t fully embrace this world of ego-soaked excess, just the excess, but sports owners love swinging the weight of their net worths around.
We see it every single collective bargaining negotiation. The team owners are far more interested in using their leverage to win these confrontations than ensuring a product that maximizes entertainment value. These billionaires approach negotiating like it’s the playoffs, and it’s their opponent that will be walking out on a 10-degree evening with freezing tears solidifying on their cheeks.
Sports owners let us see into the spirit of the people who control the majority of the wealth of this country, and for those who aren’t familiar with sports owners, they will get to see the type in action with Elon Musk and his newest toy.
The owner of Tesla and SpaceX has purchased Twitter. The company announced on Monday that it had been sold to Musk for $44 billion. That will amount to $54.20 per share for each of its shareholders, quite a profit since, after the announcement, Twitter closed on Monday with a $2.77 increase to $51.20 per share, and was worth $47 per share last Thursday. A bit of an overpay, but this is Elon Musk, the wealthiest man in the world. This is more than an investment, it’s an opportunity for him to slap the world in the face with his impressively long net worth.
Wealthy people purchase professional sports franchises for the power and the influence. Take Tilman Fertitta for example. The owner of the Golden Nugget casinos and Landry’s Restaurants purchased the Houston Rockets in 2017, and purchased it in the way that only a man respected in the circles that the wealthy travel in would be able to — on credit.
He was a bit cash poor at the time that he decided to purchase an NBA franchise — a franchise that has been successful, as opposed to the Los Angeles Clippers, a dud of a team that. The antonym to winning for most of their existence that had to be sold three years before, after hall of fame racist Donald Sterling could no longer be tolerated. The Clippers still sold for $2 billion. Fertitta had to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars and sell bonds, along with taking on $175 million in debt in 2017, to purchase the Rockets.
It’s good to be rich. He may not be in the top 10 of wealthiest people in the world, but who hasn’t lost some zeros at a Golden Nugget? The author of Shut up and Listen! Hard Business Truths will Help you Succeed was a satisfactory choice, as far as the NBA was concerned. The way that Fertitta purchased the Rockets is the same way Musk is purchasing not F.C. Barcelona or the Dallas Cowboys, but the news-breaking tool of the entire world.
While Musk is the wealthiest person in the world, per Forbes, it’s not like he can get all that money together with a series of withdrawals. That would require paying taxes, and ProPublica let us know early in the year the best way for the wealthiest to avoid those is to have very little in liquid assets. Musk did not pay taxes in 2018, and in 2015 and 2017, the wealthiest person in the world paid less than $70,000. It’s not because his money is in the Antilles, he just doesn’t have nearly the fat bank account that you might believe he has. All of that wealth is tied up in investment shares, you know, the shares of Tesla and SpaceX which he owns among his other investments, and those shares can’t be taxed until they are sold. Bloomberg’s estimate of Musk’s cash and “somewhat liquid assets” is around $3 billion. How did he front the rest? Credit.
On Thursday he reportedly had $46.5 billion in financing to make the purchase. Twitter said that Musk secured $26.5 billion in financing and the rest would come from a $21 billion “equity commitment.” In the illustrious words of Druski, “What do you mean by that?” It was a legitimate enough question for Bloomberg’s Tom Maloney to ask, but hey, this is the wealthiest man in the world.
What would Musk possibly want with the platform that Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Shams Charania use to keep the sports news machine humming? It’s not like Twitter is Facebook or Instagram, where a person can regularly salivate at new pictures of a crush in private without being considered creepy. Twitter is words (and reposted viral TikToks). Musk wants the same thing that sports franchise owners want, to say that he owns it.
People get frustrated at their favorite teams trading beloved players and lacking aggression in free agency, because these days many of the owners aren’t here for your silly civic pride. They’re here to profit as much as they can off of it, and be more recognized at those parties behind the secret door bookcases from Scooby Doo. Mark Cuban became a billionaire after selling broadcast.com right on time, but if he stopped there he’d just be another guy wearing T-shirts to business meetings if that were his only claim to fame. Instead, he bought the Dallas Mavericks, a team name that goes perfectly with his personality. Now he gets to pull April Fools pranks with referees, argue with Skip Bayless, and employ two of the most famous athletes in the history of Europe.
Musk may not be acquiring the most popular social media network, but he is acquiring arguably the most efficient distributor of news. When Woj breaks news, the NBA world reacts. When Donald Trump was allowed to tweet, the whole world weighed in. Celebrity gossip, political agendas, Bob’s Burgers gifs — they’re all on Twitter, and now the man who has failed to deliver us the “Hyperloop” for almost a decade is going to control all of it. Forget those electric cars you’ll never be able to afford, he’s about to have his paws on the most instant source of information in the world. No board of directors, his beliefs on what free speech means will be imposed upon everyone whether you use the platform or not.
So get ready people. You’re about to see why people complain so much about James Dolan and whomever is in charge of the Miami Marlins for a particular season and is selling its roster for parts. We’re dealing with the man who named his child X Æ A-12, the man who randomly tweets that 69.420 percent of statistics are false for a reaction, and the man who tweets a picture of Bill Gates’ pot belly with the caption “in case u need to lose a boner fast,” This is the person who will have his hand on the information you receive and control a significant amount of the discourse surrounding it. So get ready, world, to feel like a New York Knicks fan over the last 20 years, even if your idea of Knick is when you shave too fast while running late for work.