Learn about Los Angeles Chargers owner Alex Spanos, including how he made his wealth, his education and more.
Editor’s note: Chargers owner Alex Spanos passed away on Oct. 9, 2018 at age 95.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS | ALEX SPANOS | OWNER | AGE: 94
Note: Dean Spanos is currently the Chargers Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board. Alex ceded day-to-day operations of the team to Dean in 1994, and in 2015, Dean ceded day-to-day operations of the team to sons A.G. (President of Business Operations) and John (President of Football Operations) Spanos.
Education: Both Alex and Dean attended the University of the Pacific
How They Acquired the Franchise: Alex purchased a controlling interest of the Chargers from Gene Klein in 1984 for just under $50 million. Over the next decade, Alex bought out a series of minority owners, increasing the family stake to 97%.
Net Worth: $2.4 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $2.275 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How They Made Their Money: Alex made the family fortune in real estate as an apartment developer. Their company, A.G. Spanos Companies, is now one of the nation’s largest family-owned businesses.
In the Owner’s Words: Dean Spanos answered the questions below for Sports Illustrated.
SI: What is your philosophy or motto for running / owning the team?
Dean Spanos: On the field, our goal each year is to put ourselves in position to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Off the field, we want to do everything in our power to have a positive impact in our community and be a real difference-maker. How do you go about doing that? For us, it’s about seeking out and hiring the best talent available—both on the football side and the business side. After that, give them every resource necessary to succeed. From there, let your people do what they do best.
SI: What is the best advice you’ve ever received (in business or life), and from whom?
DS: My father has always said, “Be a good listener.” You can’t learn if you don’t listen. Nobody knows it all. Nobody has all the answers. And if they tell you they do, well, they’re probably not listening at all.
SI: What is the smartest business decision you’ve ever made?
DS: Moving the Chargers back to Los Angeles. We needed to position the organization for success today, tomorrow and the next generation, and that’s what we’ve done.
SI: What is the biggest issue facing the NFL right now?
DS: The NFL and its players over the years have overwhelmingly been a force for good. This league, its teams and the players make communities stronger. They touch lives in positive ways. They serve countless organizations and charities with their time and financial support. The current perception of the league, however, doesn’t always seem to support these facts. That’s a problem.
SI: What is your message to your team’s fans?
DS: Super. Bowl. Two words that drive us every hour of every day.
Political Donations: The Spanos family has funneled most of its donations toward conservative causes. Most notable: A $5 million donation in 2004 from Alex Spanos to the Progress for America Voter Fund, a conservative issue advocacy organization that was closely aligned with George W. Bush.
NFL Committees: Dean: Business Ventures Committee, Management Council Executive Committee; Dean’s eldest son, A.G. Spanos: Stadium Security and Fan Behavior; Dean’s wife, Susie Spanos: NFL Foundation Board.
Next in Line: Dean is next in line to Alex Spanos, who announced in 2008 that he’s suffering from dementia. Beyond Dean, the Chargers are very much a family-run business. Dean’s eldest son, A.G., acts as the President of Business Operations, and Dean’s youngest son John acts President of Football Operations.