The name Jerry Reinsdorf rings a bell with many people because he happens to be the owner of two of the most storied franchises in sports, the Chicago Bulls, and the Chicago White Sox. Where some of the wealthiest men in the world buy sports franchises as pet projects, Jerry Reinsdorf multiplied his wealth substantially by buying his teams at the idea moment, then watching them appreciate in value beyond his greatest expectation. Don’t get me wrong, he obviously was not broke when he purchased the teams, but purchasing the teams definitely promoted him to billionaire status. So what is behind the man and the myth of this famous team owner.
There are some sports franchise owners who are constantly in the news and media, and not always for the right thing, but Jerry tends to keep a low profile — as much as a billionaire can. To help familiarize you with Jerry Reinsdorf, we decided to share five little-known facts about the investor.
1. He Earned Most of His Initial Wealth in Real Estate
Jerry Reinsdorf is the co-founder of Balcor Company, which was founded in 1973. Nine years later, Reinsdorf would sell his interest in the company and ultimately parlay his earning into a viable investment portfolio that was heavily weighted in real estate holdings. At this point in the 82-year-old’s life, his holding is very diverse, but it was real estate that got the ball rolling.
2. He is a Certified Public Accountant
When investing, it is immensely important to understand your tax liabilities and other associated financial risks. I definitely do not hurt to be a CPA. When speaking with Reinsdorf, it does not take long to come to the conclusion that he completely well-rounded and he does not make uninformed decisions. He is highly methodical, which reduces his risk of losing in a major way.
3. He Bought a Controlling Stake in the Bulls for $9.2 Million
When it comes to investing, a lot of it has to do with when you enter an investment. While timing is not everything, it plays a major role in determining your capacity to win big. While talking about timing, Jerry and a group of investors brought controlling interest in the bulls for $9.2 million in 1985. Now, six World Championships and a total of 33 years later, the team is worth an estimated $2.5 billion. Now, that is what you call a great ROI.
4. He Is Also a Lawyer
Did I not mention that this man was well-rounded. If he does not challenge you to go after everything that interests or challenge you, I am not sure who or what will. He obtained his law degree from Northwestern University after successfully leveraging a full scholarship to the University of Chicago into a scholarship to Northwestern. He was brokering deals even back then.
5. He Is Blamed for Breaking Up the Bulls Dynasty
While there is a lot of speculation, I am not certain how accurate this assessment is. Many people blame Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause (General Manager) for the dismantling of one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time — the 1990’s Chicago Bulls. It is believed that the refusal to bring back key pieces, including Phil Jackson, led to the team disbursing.
6. He Has Brooklyn Roots
While Reinsdorf has made Chicago his home for quite some time, he was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a sewing machine salesman. Jerry grew up in the shadows of Ebbets Field and had the honor of being present when Jackie Robinson debut in the major leagues.
7. He Speaks Highly of Jackie Robinson
In an era in which owners and players of color are not seeing eye to eye, Reinsdorf has a very high opinion of Jackie Robinson and the role he played in integrated major league baseball. Reinsdorf has been quoted often in his praise of Robinson. In his opinion, Robinson will never really receive the credit he truly deserves for taking on a very difficult task.
8. His First Purchase of a Major League Team Was in 1981
While most people recognize Jerry Reinsdorf as the man who owned the Bulls and cut the dynasty short, he actually owned the White Sox four years prior. He purchased the White Sox for $19 million in a deal that was brokered by American National Bank. Reinsdorf took ownership from Charles Comisky, who was considered an old Miser, and while Jerry could be crude, he was definitely no miser.
9. He Can Be Tight at Times
One of the accusations about Jerry over the years is that he can be too tight with his money at times. Generally speaking, that can be a good thing, but when you are dealing with sports franchises that pay top players exorbitant amounts of money, sometimes you have to be willing to open up that checkbook in order to remain competitive.
10. He Played a Major Role in Revenue Sharing of Internet Rights
Being true to the businessman that he is, Jerry took the lead in the move to create a revenue-sharing agreement concerning the internet rights of Major League Baseball, a situation in which teams have taken an equal share in the revenue generated through advanced media since 2000.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker