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U.S. Sports Owners Donated Nearly $50 Million to Political Causes Since 2015


  • New data shows how much American team sports owners have contributed to various political causes since 2015
  • Owners from major American sports leagues have donated just under $47 million to various political causes over the past five years
  • Nearly 73 percent of donations have gone to Republican causes, with 21.5 percent going to Democratic causes

The 2020 election is right around the corner. As of this writing, there are just six days left before you have to cast your ballot.

2020 has been marked by many things, including athletes feeling empowered to speak out on social issues. The racial injustice protests that swept their way across the US over the summer included athletes from all over the American sports spectrum making their voices heard.

While many athletes may be on one side of the aisle, several team owners have also been active in politics for years. In fact, according to a new study conducted by ESPN and FiveThirtyEight, American team sports owners have donated just under $47 million to causes tied to federal elections over the past five years.

Republican-Heavy Contributions

That effort includes around $10 million given to Republican causes, with $1.9 million going to Democratic causes in the 2020 election cycle alone. The one-sided spending aligns with donation trends from the 2016 and 2018 elections, as well.

Since 2016, owners from the NFL, NHL, NBA, WNBA, NASCAR, and Major League Baseball have donated over $34 million to Republican campaigns or super PACs targeting Republican causes. Owners have donated just over $10 million to Democratic campaigns or super PACs tied to Democratic candidates in the same time span, with under six percent of the total contributions going to unaffiliated causes or campaigns.

All of this data comes from the Federal Election Commission database of campaign finances. The list includes the data for current owners, and the data only applies to the time in which they have owned their respective franchises. Spouses and relatives of the owners were not included unless they actually have a controlling stake in the ownership group, as well.

ESPN reported that 74 of the 160 owners in the database contributed a majority of their documented funds to Republican campaigns, with 48 skewing more toward Democratic causes. There are a total of 40 owners that have each donated at least $100,000 to Republican causes within the last six years, while 23 more have donated at least that much to Democrats.

Year-by-Year Donations

In 2016, this group donated nearly $13 million to Republicans compared to just over $4 million to Democrats. Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Republican causes took in over $11 million from team owners and commissioners, while Democrats received about $4.1 million in contributions.

Not all figures for the 2020 US Presidential election cycle are available as of yet, but owners have donated 10 times the amount to Republicans that they have to Democrats according to the data that is already public.

If we split the donations down by league, the only league of the six mentioned above that doesn’t skew hard in favor of Republican causes is the WNBA. Of all political contributions made by WNBA owners since 2016, 57.1 percent have gone to Democrats. MLB owners have donated three times as much to Republican causes compared to Democratic causes, while NFL owners have spent over five times as much in favor of Republicans.

13 active team owners, including James Dolan (Knicks), Tilman Fertitta (Rockets), Todd Ricketts (Cubs), and Kelly Loeffler (Dream) have donated to Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 election. Loeffler, of course, is currently a sitting Republican Senator from Georgia.

20 owners, meanwhile, have donated to Joe Biden’s campaign in this cycle. That list includes Art Rooney II (Steelers), David Blitzer (76ers, Devils), Tom Werner (Red Sox), Billie Jean King (Dodgers), and Peter Guber (Warriors, Dodgers).

One Group Accounts for Majority of Spending

While the donation amounts typically skew hard toward Republican causes, there is a fairly small group of owners actually accounting for the vast majority of actual donations. Per the data, 40 owners of the 160 have donated more than 85 percent of the total amount given to political causes over the past five years. 77.7 percent of that cash has gone to Republican causes, with just under 19 percent going to Democrats.

That group includes Micky Arison (Heat), Stan Kroenke (Rams, Avalanche, Nuggets), Fred Wilpon (Mets), Stephen Ross (Dolphins), and Magic Johnson (Dodgers, Sparks).

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …

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