— Top Influencer —
Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Kraft Group
When the NFL inked $110 billion in new media rights deals in March and a room full of power players convened to take credit, Commissioner Roger Goodell doled out most of the kudos to Kraft. The New England Patriots’ longtime owner has been out front in efforts to sell a stake in NFL Media and a critical conduit to Fanatics founder Michael Rubin and a host of celebrity and business VIPs.
Founder and Chairman, AEG
With the full return of live events, AEG — parent company for the LA Kings and Galaxy — continues to be at the forefront of sports and entertainment. Last month, AEG secured a historic 20-year deal to rename Staples Center as Crypto.com Arena, a tie-up reportedly worth more than $700 million, making it one of the most valuable naming-rights deals ever in sports.
Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, John Henry
Owner, Fenway Sports Group
Chairman, Fenway Sports Group
President, Fenway Sports Group
Already influential as owners of iconic franchises on opposite sides of the Atlantic, the proprietors of Fenway Sports Group extended their reach to another major pro league earlier this month, purchasing the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Along with chairing MLB’s business board and sitting on the league’s executive council, Henry plays what now is a particularly pivotal role as a member of the labor policy committee.
Owner, Dallas Cowboys
As chair of the NFL’s owned-and-operated media committee, Jones has outsized influence over the league’s most intriguing outstanding question: Who will be minority partner in the NFL Media juggernaut? But his influence touches everything. His larger-than-life presence in the Cowboys’ nuts-and-bolts, ability to set a tone among all 32 owners, and penchant for making the big even bigger gives him a say in everything. That goes double when the Cowboys thrive on the field.
Chairman, Hornets Sports & Entertainment; Co-Owner, 23XI Racing
At a time when everyone is talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, Jordan remains the only Black majority owner of a team in a major sports league. As his Charlotte Hornets enjoy early-season success, driver Bubba Wallace gave 23XI its first NASCAR victory, at Talladega. 23XI paid $13.5 million for a second charter, to be used for the team’s new No. 45 car run by Kurt Busch.
Owner, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
The geographic center of gravity in today’s NFL is undeniably Los Angeles, and that’s happened mostly because of Kroenke’s money. SoFi Stadium will host the highest-revenue Super Bowl yet, NFL Media sets give a year-round view of the facility, and the move has rejuvenated both the Rams and Chargers. Though he shoulders the $790 million settlement in St. Louis, in 2021 it’s hard to wade into football and not end up in Kroenke’s wake.
Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Monumental Sports & Entertainment
One of the pioneers of the dot-com era, Leonsis has always had an eye on the future. In September, he opened the first sportsbook located inside a U.S. pro sports venue, in this case Capital One Arena, and his Washington Capitals signed the NHL’s first jersey patch deal with Caesars Sportsbook. Global data and betting firm Sportradar, a company where Leonsis is an investor, went public in September at nearly an $8 billion valuation.