Clay Bennett is a businessman who was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1959. He is best known for his connections to various sports, especially for his role as the chairman of the Professional Basketball Club LLC, which is the group that owns Oklahoma City Thunder. He is also the chairman emeritus of the board of directors for the Oklahoma Heritage Society and the chairman of the Oklahoma-based Dorchester Capital Corporation. Although he is a well-known and respected figure in the business and sports worlds, there are many things that people do not know about him. Here are 10 interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about Clay Bennett.
1. He Has Had Brain Surgery
In 2017, Clay Bennet underwent brain surgery, although he has never publicly spoken about why this was necessary, says The Oklahoman. In the months that followed his brain surgery, Clay Bennett was rarely seen out in public, including at the Oklahoma City Thunders’ games. When he was seen, fans were shocked by his appearance as he had lost a lot of weight, had a thin face, and an obvious scar on his head.
2. He is One of Seven Primary Owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Some people mistakenly believe that Clay Bennett is the sole owner of the Oklahoma City Thunders, and he took much of the brunt when he moved the team to Oklahoma from Seattle, which was its original home. However, he is one of seven primary owners, with none of them owning more than a 19 percent stake in the business, says The Oklahoman. The other primary owners of the team include Jeff Records Jr., Bill Cameron, Jay Scaramucci, Bob Howard II, and George Kaiser.
3. He Was Named the 2009 Oklahoman of the Year
Clay Bennet is a born and bred Oklahoman, and one of the most successful Oklahoman’s today. This was recognized by Oklahoma Today when they named him their Oklahoman of the Year in 2009. This title was given to him because of his various business achievements, and they described him as a ‘home-grown thunder god’.
4. Rolling Stone Listed Him as One of the Worst Owners in Sport
While Clay Bennett has achieved many accolades, not everyone is a fan of this businessman. In fact, he was listed with Aubrey McClendon as one of the top 15 worst owners in sports by Rolling Stone. They listed him because he bought the Seattle SuperSonics in 2006 and then moved them to Oklahoma to become Oklahoma City Thunders. This was a move that caused uproar amongst fans and that Rolling Stone described as a despicable act.
5. He Has a Personal Net Worth of $400 Million
Sources say that Clay Bennett has an estimated personal net worth of $400 million. This is through his various business ventures, including his ownership of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
6. He Resigned from the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents for Health Reasons
According to AP News, Clay Bennett resigned from the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents in January 2019 due to health reasons. A spokesperson for the university was able to confirm the businessman’s resignation but could not elaborate further on the nature of his health concerns. He was first appointed to the board in 2011 and was reappointed in 2018.
7. He is a Family Man
Although he has various business commitments, Clay Bennett is also a family man. According to Information Cradle, Bennet is married to Louise Gaylord Bennett. The couple was high school sweethearts as they met when she was a freshman and he was a sophomore. Bennet’s wife is the daughter of Edward L. Gaylord, an Oklahoma City media mogul. The couple has three children together; two daughters and a son. Their son is called Graham, and their two daughters are called Christine and Mollie. The family lives in Oklahoma.
8. He Was Involved in the Relocation of the team from Seattle
Clay Bennet hit the headlines for negative reasons when he relocated the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma and renamed them the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, he has relocated another team for positive reasons. According to Gazette Review, The New Orleans Hornets suffered badly following the events of Hurricane Katrina. Clay Bennett collaborated with several other businessmen to relocate the team to Oklahoma City so they could continue to play.
9. Bennett is Passionate About Criminal Justice Reform
Clay Bennett has many strong social and political views and is actively involved in many aspects of politics. One area in which he has a particular passion is criminal justice reform. In fact, he is the chairman of a task force that aims to identify and seek criminal justice reforms, says Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Bennett_(businessman)#Personal_life). The main purpose of this task force is to alleviate overcrowding of jails in Oklahoma City.
10. He Was an Executive Director for the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1989
One of Bennett’s first forays into the world of sport was in 1989 when he was hired as an executive director responsible for coordinating the U.S. Olympic Festival, says Oklahoma Today. This was the largest ever athletic event held in Oklahoma. The festival planners chose Bennett for the role because they were impressed by his letter of interest for the position. His work contributed to the event becoming the most successful Olympic Festival ever held. Lee Allen Smith was president of the local organizing arm of the U.S. Olympic Festival. Smith described Bennett as intelligent, focused, cool, calm, and collected.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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