Ted Lerner is a very successful real estate developer who has since become the principal owner of a MLB franchise. Since his Lerner Enterprises is based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, it should come as no surprise to learn that said MLB franchise is the Washington Nationals.
1. Comes From an Orthodox Jewish Background
Lerner’s mother came from Lithuania, while Lerner’s father came from Palestine. It is interesting to note that Lerner had an Orthodox Jewish upbringing. For those who are unfamiliar, Orthodox Judaism is a catch-all term for the more traditionalist branches of modern Judaism. As a result, it tends to be stricter about its observance of Jewish Law, which it tends to interpret in a more traditional manner as well.
2. Is a Veteran
For context, Lerner was born in 1925. As a result, he was at the right age to fight in the Second World War. However, Lerner spent his time in the U.S. Army as a typist, meaning that he wasn’t present for the worst of the fighting. In particular, it is worth mentioning that Lerner’s unit participated in the Battle of the Bulge, which took a heavy toll on its members.
3. Studied Law
After the Second World War, Lerner was one of the numerous veterans who went to school via the G.I. Bill. It is interesting to note that Lerner went on to study law at George Washington University. Moreover, he spent some time selling homes while he was studying law, which was how he managed to become interested in real estate.
4. Borrowed Money to Start His Own Business
Like a lot of entrepreneurs, Lerner had to borrow money in order to start his own business. To be exact, he borrowed $250 from his wife, which was apparently enough funding for him to get started in those times. As for Lerner’s business, he specialized in selling residential real estate properties for real estate developers, which was how his real estate empire started out.
5. Enjoys Dealmaking
Unsurprisingly, Lerner enjoys what he does. In particular, he has stated that what he enjoys the most about his chosen line of business is the process of putting the deal together. With that said, it is interesting to note that Lerner combined his enjoyment of deal-making with the ability to hold off on dealmaking until the time was right for him to make his move. For proof, look no further than the fact that much of his wealth came from how he was able to snap up empty land, hold on to it while other real estate developers were looking elsewhere, and then make a handsome profit off of developing it when the interest sprang up.
6. Takes Risks But Isn’t Particularly Risky
Naturally, Lerner had to take a lot of risks over the course of his career. After all, that is an inevitability when it comes to businesses, seeing as how no one can predict the future with perfect certainty. However, what is clear that Lerner hasn’t been a particularly risky risk-taker. Instead, he has timed his purchases with care and consideration, built well on his purchases, and planned out everything with the future in mind. On the whole, these things speak of a long-term perspective as well as the patience needed to maintain it.
7. Lived In a Frugal Manner
By the time that Lerner and his wife had children, they were already doing very well in a financial sense. However, it is interesting to note that the couple didn’t shower their children with expensive luxuries but instead lived in a pretty frugal manner. For example, the family continued to live in the same house. Likewise, Lerner’s wife Annette continued to cook for the family and bring the children to their classes. On the whole, the Lerner family didn’t stick out in spite of their already sizable fortune by that point in time, which was very much intentional on the part of Lerner and his wife.
8. Has a Succession Plan In Mind
Given Lerner’s focus on the long run, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that he has a succession plan in mind. In fact, one of the reasons that his real estate empire has managed to remain in his family is because Lerner was always interested in building something that he could pass on to his children. Having said that, it is interesting to note that this kind of planning has paid off in other ways as well, as shown by Bud Selig’s statement that the Lerner family’s ability to handle a succession was one of the factors for them getting the Washington Nationals.
9. Remains Involved in Running His Business
Nowadays, Lerner is in his 90s. However, he is still very much involved in running his businesses in spite of the fact that his family members already occupy positions of prominence throughout his business empire. In fact, it has been said that Lerner will continue to work until he is no longer capable of doing so, which is something that says much about the extent of his personal passion for his chosen line of work.
10. Started Trying to Buy a Baseball Team in 1979
Owning a baseball team wasn’t one of Lerner’s childhood dreams. However, baseball was definitely an important part of his childhood as well as thereafter. As such, Lerner started trying to buy a baseball team in 1979, which was when the Baltimore Orioles came up for sale. Lerner didn’t manage to get that particular baseball team in the end, but it was nonetheless the start of a process that would see him picking up the Montreal Expos turned Washington Nationals in the mid 2000s. As such, the Lerner family is now the majority owner of the baseball team with something like 90 percent ownership, while Lerner himself serves as the managing principal owner.