Meet The Billionaire Family Behind The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, One Of The NFL’s Least Valuable Teams
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Meet The Billionaire Family Behind The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, One Of The NFL’s Least Valuable Teams

ILLUSTRATION BY FORBES; PHOTOS, LEFT TO RIGHT: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images; James Gilbert/Getty Images; Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/ David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images; James Gilbert/Getty Images/ Phelan M Ebenhack/AP
Justin Birnbaum

Twenty-two years ago, Malcolm Glazer owned the NFL’s third-most-valuable franchise. It’s now down to a record-low No. 29. With a Tom Brady-led revival, his heirs finally have a chance to turn things around.


This story has been updated to reflect the results of Super Bowl LV.

It may have been the best $50 million ever spent in the NFL.

That’s what the billionaire Glazer family guaranteed to Tom Brady, who delivered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their first Super Bowl in 18 years.

“My father had an expression,” Bucs owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer said on behalf of his family Sunday night. “If you want to know the road ahead, ask the person who’s been there. Well, we found that person. Ten Super Bowl appearances and seven victories—Tom Brady!”

It’s been a long and painful wait. The last time the Bucs won the championship, they had one of the NFL’s shiniest new stadiums, a charismatic and popular head coach and a gifted roster that included two future Hall of Famers. They crushed the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, delivering Tampa Bay its first Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Now, six heirs to patriarch Malcolm Glazer’s $5.8 billion fortune have delivered a second. Brady led the Bucs to a 31-9 victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday, crowning a renaissance year for a team—and a family—that had tasted the playoffs only twice since the Super Bowl win in 2003, the same year Glazer first became a billionaire.

The scrappy, self-taught businessman, who died in 2014, turned early real estate and junk bond investments into a family fortune that today includes roughly $600 million of real estate around the country, the Bucs and Premier League soccer club Manchester United. Four of his kids—Bryan, Darcie, Edward and Joel—completed a turnaround that rips a few pages from their dad’s playbook, including a successful bet on future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, whom they paired with offensive guru Bruce Arians and a plethora of young, talented players. They also delivered a double dose of firsts in NFL history, becoming the only team to play, and win, the Super Bowl at its home stadium. (Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium was chosen as this year’s neutral-site host years earlier.)

“Being back in the Super Bowl is a tremendous feeling, but ultimately our goal is to win,” Joel Glazer said in the lead-up to the game. “Our father would have loved this group of players and coaches.” Joel and brothers Edward and Bryan co-chair the Buccaneers while sister Darcie is president of the organization’s foundation and the Glazer Vision Foundation.

Tampa Bay defeated a resurgent opponent that has billionaire backers with a comeback story of their own, the $15.5 billion Hunt family. Purchased by Lamar Hunt, son of oil and gas legend H.L. Hunt, for $25,000 in 1960, the Chiefs looked poised to become the NFL’s next dynasty. Led by their young star Patrick Mahomes and legendary coach Andy Reid, they played in their first Super Bowl in 50 years last year, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20.


Billionaire Blitz

Super Bowl LV isn’t the first battle of the billionaires, and it won’t be the last. But this year’s game featured a pair of comeback stories aiming to erase decades of mediocrity. The below data reflects the pre-game status for each franchise.


Malcolm Glazer arrived in the league much later than Hunt, buying the Bucs in 1995 by paying a then-record $192 million for one of the NFL’s worst franchises. “I’ve worked hard and long ever since I was 15 years old,” Glazer told Forbes shortly after buying the team. “It’s time I got a little fun out of life.”

He quit school as a teenager to tend to his family’s watch parts shop in Upstate New York after his father died. Glazer caught his first taste of success after winning a contract to operate a watch and jewelry concession at an Air Force base in Geneva, New York, and began dabbling in stocks. He then tried his hand at real estate, borrowing heavily to buy rental houses in poor, working-class Rochester neighborhoods. Leveraging one property against another, he branched out to commercial properties and then trailer parks and nursing homes.

In 1990, he sold a handful of network-affiliated TV stations he’d bought up in small, non-competitive markets for a $60 million profit. Next it was junk bonds, and it was perfect timing. Glazer got in heavily on the battered bonds of companies such as Amphenol, Pamida and Gilbert/Robinson just before a massive market rally that doubled his investment to roughly $160 million. Pressing his advantage, he doubled down on distressed businesses, and by 1995, the year he bought the Bucs, he had a net worth that Forbes pegged at $300 million.


BURIED TREASURE

Once one of the NFL’s most valuable franchises, the Bucs have steadily fallen to the bottom of Forbes’ annual rankings even as their valuation continues to rise.


The fun in Tampa lasted only a few years. In 1999, the Bucs peaked at No. 3 on the Forbes ranking of the most valuable NFL teams, but it was all downhill after that. Glazer’s shiny new stadium soon began looking tattered against newer football palaces that were popping up across the league. His roster was aging, too, and was never fully rejuvenated. In 2009, the family fired Jon Gruden, the winningest coach in franchise history, which led into a 12-season playoff drought. Attendance dwindled, and a stingy approach to talent only made it worse.

That dismal slide was made more glaring by the success of the family’s other sports jewel, Manchester United. Glazer led a takeover of the club through a $1.4 billion deal that closed in 2005 and left it saddled with debt. Irate fans continue to squeal even as the club piles up trophies: five Premier League titles, five domestic cups and a UEFA Champions League title. In 2019, before the pandemic, revenue peaked at $795 million, giving the club an enterprise value that Forbes estimated at almost $4 billion.

“Part of the reason they brought Brady in was to teach the young, great athletes how to win,” says sports consultant Marc Ganis, an associate of the Glazers. He adds, “That will have benefits for succeeding years even after Brady retires.”

Still, this is the NFL, which collects massive revenue from TV contracts that gets shared equally among all 32 clubs. The average team value has risen from $288 million in 1998, when Forbes began its tracking, to $3.05 billion today. The Bucs are worth $2.28 billion, up ten-fold from when Glazer purchased the team. That’s a pretty good return even for a franchise that now ranks as one of American football’s worst investments—it sits 29th on Forbes’ list, its lowest ranking ever, six spots behind the $2.5 billion Chiefs.

“Put it this way,” Ganis says. “If I had the funds to buy a team in any league, it would be a team in the NFL.”

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I'm an assistant editor covering the intersection of sports, business and technology. I've previously written for CNBC.com, The Hockey News and Narratively. I started

I'm an assistant editor covering the intersection of sports, business and technology. I've previously written for CNBC.com, The Hockey News and Narratively. I started this journey covering a handful of New Jersey Devils stranded in Albany during the 2012 NHL Lockout, with stops on the beats of the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. I graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism where I specialized in Sports Media.

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