4 Ted Turner
Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks
Net Worth: $1.9 Billion
Biggest chunk of 54-year-old Turner's financial empire: his stock holdings in Turner Broadcasting, which owns both teams. Has a 110,000-acre ranch in Montana, plantations in Florida and South Carolina, and an island near Beaufort, S.C. Also has two consecutive National League pennants. Married to actress Jane Fonda, who accompanies him to games and who is herself worth a reported $40 million.
5 George III and Gordon Gund
Cleveland Cavaliers, San Jose Sharks
Net Worth: $1.5 Billion
Inherited wealth from father, George Jr., who parlayed a small Ohio brewery into a vast fortune including everything from real estate to cattle. Biggest play came when George Jr. purchased Kaffee Hag, a German decaffeinated-coffee company, in 1919 for a reported $130,000; in 1927 he sold the company to Kellogg's for 60,000 shares of stock worth an estimated $10 million. The decaffeination process became the basis for Sanka. Both George, 56, and Gordon, 53, are art patrons. Gordon heads Gund Investment of Princeton, N.J.; enjoys sculpting and, despite being blind, skiing. George, a financier, lives in San Francisco. The brothers together own Cavs and Richfield Coliseum; George has majority share of Sharks.
6 Hiroshi Yamauchi
Net Worth: $1.4 Billion
One of the richest men in Japan. The 64-year-old president of Nintendo and holder of 11% of the company's stock. Personally paid $75 million for 60% share of Mariners. When he was 21 he dropped out of college to take over family playing-card business; expanded into video games in the late '70s. Says he's "not interested" in baseball and doesn't like video games. Doesn't own a car or a house.
7 Bob Tisch
New York Giants
Net Worth: $1.1 Billion
Owns 12% of Loews Corp. and 50% of Giants. Purchased his half of team in 1990; other half held by Wellington Mara (No. 65 in this list). Brooklyn-born and-raised. In 1946 bought, with his brother Larry—now CEO of CBS—and their father, a New Jersey resort called Laurel-in-the-Pines. Over the years brothers added other hotels, Loews theaters (since sold), Lorillard tobacco, CNA insurance, Bulova watches and CBS (of which they currently own 23%). Bob, now 67, took time off from corporate duties during Reagan administration to serve as postmaster general. Is presently the official—but unpaid—New York City ambassador to Washington. Has held Giant season tickets since the late '50s.
8 Jack Kent Cooke
Net Worth: $900 Million
Canadian-born. Played saxophone and clarinet in Percy Faith's band. Financed his first honeymoon by selling encyclopedias door-to-door. Sold household products for Colgate-Palmolive during the Depression, then hooked up with media mogul Roy Thomson, with whose backing he bought his first radio station, at age 25. Made his first million by 31. Copromoted the first Muhammed Ali—Joe Frazier fight, in 1971. Used to own the L.A. Lakers and Kings; wrote fight songs for both teams and built their home arena, now called the Great Western Forum. Bought the Chrysler Building in 1979, the L.A. Daily News in '85. Also has stable of racehorses, as well as farms in Kentucky and Virginia. Married four times; current wife did time for a cocaine rap in 1986. Age 80.
9 Carl Pohlad
Net Worth: $900 Million
Born in Valley Junction (now West Des Moines), Iowa. Father a train brakeman and mother a laundress. One of eight children. Hopped a freight out of town after high school graduation in 1934. Went to Gonzaga University in Spokane on a football scholarship, then dropped out because he was making good money selling repossessed cars. Much decorated—Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars—as an Army second lieutenant in World War II. Took over Minneapolis bank after his CEO brother-in-law died in 1955 and grew it into a financial empire of more than 40 banks. Also made millions in bottling and in a series of corporate takeover plays with raider Irwin Jacobs. Owned a piece of the Minnesota Vikings from 1985 to '91. At age 78, is member of Executive Council and Player Relations Committee board of directors, the two most important committees in Major League Baseball.
10 Michael Ilitch
Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers
Net Worth: $900 Million
Son of Macedonian immigrant who worked as tool-and-die man at Chrysler. Played shortstop for Tampa Smokers in Tiger farm system but never made it to the bigs. Worked at a concrete company, then sold aluminum awnings door-to-door. In 1959 at age 29 opened first Little Caesar's pizzeria; he twirled dough while his wife, Marian, ran the register. Is now chairman (Marian is treasurer) of company with more than 4,500 franchises. Marian is also part owner of both Tigers and Red Wings.
11 William Davidson
Net Worth: $800 Million
Owns approximately 60% of the Pistons, 80% of their home arena (Palace at Auburn Hills) and all of Guardian Industries, the world's fifth-largest glass manufacturer. Pistons earned an estimated $34 million last year. Age 72. A popular owner who refrains from interfering with his front office ("I do not profess to be an NBA expert," he says), does not panic during tough times and opens his checkbook when necessary.
12 Leon Hess
New York Jets
Net Worth: $765 Million
Son of a Lithuanian immigrant who ran a small fuel-delivery business in Asbury Park, N.J. Left school when he was 18 to drive a truck for his father. Reorganized the business after it went under during the Depression and, acting as both salesman and deliveryman, built it into the massive Amerada Hess Corp. it is today. A key figure in the construction of the Alaskan pipeline. Bought into Jets in 1963 when he was 48.
13 Walter A. Haas Jr.
Net Worth: $620 Million
Great-great-nephew of Levi Strauss, who sold pants made of tent canvas to California prospectors during Gold Rush. Helped turn Levi Strauss & Co. from jeans maker into world's largest apparel manufacturer. Now retired, 77 years old. Owns about 4.3 million shares of Levi stock and an estimated 75% of the A's. Son Wally and daughter Betsy own the rest of team.