Jerry Jones is estimated to be worth well over $8 billion. How did he accumulate his fortune?
Jerry Jones was born into a financially well-off family and he was able to borrow large sums of money from friends in high places, until he found a successful business venture. Jones made most of his fortune from the profits of the football team—the Dallas Cowboys—which he bought in 1989.
Read on for a more detailed account of Jerry Jones’ life and money-making prowess.
The Early Days of Jerry Jones
Jerral Wayne Jones was born in Los Angeles, California, on October 13, 1942. The family moved back to North Little Rock, when he was around 3 years old. His parents owned two branches of a supermarket there, called Pat’s Super Market.
Jones played football as a running back at North Little Rock High School. After finishing high school his parents moved to Springfield, Missouri, where his father started the company Modern Security Life Insurance Co.
The company saw great success in the early 60s, with assets increasing from $440,299.76 in its first statement in 1961 to $6,230,607 in 1965.
Jones attended the University of Arkansas and continued his football career. He was made co-captain of the 1964 National Championship football teams and an all-Southwest Conference offensive lineman.
After finishing college, Jones borrowed a million dollars from the funds of Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters union to open multiple outlets of Shakey’s Pizza Parlor restaurants in Missouri.
However, the venture failed and so his father gave him a job at the insurance company and he studied for a master’s degree in business.
Jones again borrowed money from the Teamsters union and attempted to buy the American Football League’s San Diego Chargers in 1967, but the sale didn’t go through.
He then started an oil and gas exploration business in Arkansas, called Jones Oil and Land Lease, which became profitable.
Jones bought the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. Almost immediately, he fired longtime coach Tom Landry and a few months later general manager Tex Schramm. He then hired his friend and ex-teammate from Arkansas, Jimmy Johnson, as coach.
Jones’ firings were not viewed positively by fans, who valued pride and respect as instrumental to the Cowboys’ tradition. In 2003, he was voted as the least favorite sports personality by Sports Illustrated.
Despite his tenuous popularity, the Cowboys saw success under Jones’ leadership and were widely considered to be the best NFL team in the 1990s. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1992, 1993, and 1995.
At the time of the sale, the previous owner of the Cowboys reported losses of $1 million per month. Over the course of Jones’ tenure, the value of the team has increased to an estimated $4.2 billion, of which much is attributed to Jones’ leadership.
Particularly, Jones is credited with increasing television revenues for the sport. He secured Fox as the NFC’s primary broadcaster, as the traditional “Big Three” TV networks were asking for reduced rights fees.
The increased revenue from networks meant the NFL became the world’s richest sports league, with a revenue of over $10 billion per season.
Watch the Cowboys take down the Buffalo Bills in 1993:
In 2008, Jones partnered with Yankee Global Enterprises in order to create Legends Hospitality. The enterprise sells food, beverage, merchandise within entertainment venues. The company is estimated to be worth $750 million.