Owner Jerry Jones of “America’s Team” the Dallas Cowboys, is part celebrity, part NFL owner, part controversial, but wholly American. Like him or not, it is unquestionable that he gets attention virtually everywhere he goes. This is not by accident but a result of his life choices that gained financial momentum from a very young age. With money comes attention, and owning a major NFL franchise is sure to enhance that image. Here we will briefly explore how Jerry Jones achieved a net worth of at least $5 billion.
We say at least because the number fluctuates due to his income and investment portfolio. First, the value of an NFL franchise rises and falls based on the team’s popularity and performance. Jones knows this all too well, as his first act as the new owner of the Dallas Cowboys was to fire the only head coach the team had known – the legendary Tom Landry. The following season would end with a 1–15 record, devaluing the team in more than one way.
But taking risks was the only way Jerry Jones knows how to live. Despite the well-known fact that he comes from a wealthy family, he hasn’t simply sat around and lived off his daddy’s money. In the 1960’s the term “wildcatter” was a common one, used for men who would stake their future fortune on oil and gas exploration. Jones would strike oil on 13 of his first 13 oil drillings, becoming an instant success in the industry. This also rejects the notion that 13 is an unlucky number – at least for Jones. The company formed under the new venture was Jones Oil and Land Lease, a requirement to take advantage of the existing tax laws that would allow him to keep much of the profit.
With a solid foundation in the oil and gas industry, he would profit considerably during times such as the Arab Oil Embargo of 1974 which sent gasoline prices soaring as well as consumer tempers, as people actually waited in long lines to fill up their tanks. Call him an opportunist, but he didn’t create the 1974 or any other crisis to the best of our knowledge.
Having continued to build his fortune he would also get married during this time and raise several children. Then the time came to make perhaps his most daring move – to purchase the Dallas Cowboys. Though we look at buying an NFL franchise today as a virtually guaranteed money maker, this was not the case in the early days of football. While Jones actually bought the team in 1989 for $140 million, Jones had seen the evolution of the sport since the early 1960’s, including the merger of the NFL and the former AFL – American Football League.
But Jones’ purchase of the Cowboys also happens to be connected to his early oil business ventures. He bought the team from H. R. Bright who himself was an oilman, but after a number of years of piling up losses Bright was ready to sell the team. Call it the right place at the right time, Jones would prove he was also a savvy businessman and knew football.
He took on the NFL, who at the time equally divided the revenues for team branded merchandise equally among the current 30 teams. His problem with the arrangement was that the Cowboys had become a cash cow for the merchandise, accounting for about 25 percent of the NFL’s merchandise revenue. He saw it as losing money, so struck up a deal with Nike and Pepsi, the latter being in direct competition with the NFL’s sponsored soft drink, Coca Cola. The NFL sued, Jones won, and that win would bring in millions of dollars to the Cowboy franchise.
Again, he would add to his fortune by coming up with the idea of personal seat licenses, a common feature of every NFL franchise. It is also common to see stadiums named after corporate sponsors. Jones was the originator of that idea, signing a deal with AT&T that would bring in about $20 million a year to the organization.
Most of Jerry Jones’ net worth is from the $4.2 billion assessment of the value of the Dallas Cowboys, but he has several other financial interests as well. Apparently he loves pizza, as he is the half-owner of 75 Papa John’s pizza franchises, which should be noted goes great with Pepsi.
His residence is in the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas, which has an estimated value of $20 million. His is known to be an avid art collector, in one instance buying a Norman Rockwell painting, “Coin Toss” for $1.1 million 1989 and has appreciated to $18.5 million. Two numbers, 13 and 1989, appear to be fortunate for Jones. His private Gulfstream jet is worth $50 million.
Having been married to the same woman for 50 years and having a passel of children, Jones’ net worth is stable and safe, with only a prosperous future ahead for him in his remaining years.