Every self-respecting billionaire in America should own an interest in at least one sports franchise in the town he calls home, and even sometimes further afield.
Even though they are prestige big-ticket items the biggest teams regularly make money as well, so the chance to buy in is often welcomed. To be offered the opportunity is also of course the ultimate sign of local social acceptance as well.
Accordingly, we learned yesterday that Tulsa businessman, and certified billionaire, George Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors to become a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club, LLC, the limited partnership which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Chairman and CEO of the team Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement today. Kaiser is buying out the ownership interest of a selling partner, Thomas Ward.
“We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder, ” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.”
“I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning, ” Bennett added.
A happy George Kaiser said, “I am pleased to join the Thunder ownership group, ” adding “I appreciate what Tom, Clay and the other owners have done to make Oklahoma City a big-league city and look forward to joining the continuing effort to gain positive recognition for our state.”
About George Kaiser
George Kaiser, who today is 71, was born and raised in Tulsa Oklahoma. After graduating with a B.A. from Harvard College in 1964 and an MBA from the Harvard Business School two years later, Kaiser joined Kaiser-Francis Oil, the family owned oil business, taking over management control of the company just three years later, when aged just 27.
Kaiser’s family were refugees from Nazi Germany who came to America and settled in Tulsa, where his uncle founded the Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. Kaiser currently pursues oil plays in North Dakota, Wyoming and Canada.
In 1990, Kaiser acquired the Bank of Oklahoma out of receivership from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for US$60 million. His stake in the bank today is alone worth some US$2.7 billion.
George Kaiser also founded and owns Excelerate Energy, which ships liquefied natural gas around the world.
George Kaiser is particularly well known for his philanthropy, which he administers through the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has an estimated US$3 billion in assets, and an annual grant budget of aroundUs$40 million. The foundation is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancements.
The Kaiser foundation is also the largest contributor to the Tulsa Community Foundation. The Jewish community in Oklahoma, which currently numbers around 5, 000 people, is also one of the local groups and causes he is involved in supporting.
George Kaiser figures high on the list of the top 50 American philanthropists, as well as having made the Giving Pledge, in which he undertakes to give away half of his wealth for charitable purposes.
According to Forbes billionaires George Kaiser has a personal net worth of US$10.1 billion as at April 2014.