Learn more about David Tepper, the new owner of the Carolina Panthers, including how he made his wealth, education and more.

By Jonathan Jones
July 20, 2018

Tepper, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (BA) and Carnegie Mellon University (MBA), recently purchased the Panthers for an NFL-record $2.275 billion. The newest member of the owner’s club is the President and Founder of Appaloosa Management, a hedge fund with a reported $17 billion under management.

There are two things that the other 31 NFL owners must love about David Tepper, who officially took control as the newest owner of the Panthers on July 9.

First, the billionaire 11-times-over knows how to make money, but that’s necessary for entry into this elite club.

The second, and more important fact, is that he made so much of that money by seeing into the future and taking risks the majority wasn’t prepared to take. In the late 2000s, he bet the government would bail out the big banks in the recession. He was right, and he earned billions (the exact figure varies depending on the source) with the wager.

His utility to fellow owners is obvious. Tepper operated one of the most successful hedge funds in American history, and his business savvy is unimpeachable. Within three years, the league and the players will be looking down the barrel of another lockout. The NFL wants all the firepower it can assemble, and Tepper, who for nearly a decade was a minority owner of the Steelers, now has a seat at the table.

His utility locally in Charlotte is equally as obvious. Tepper follows Jerry Richardson—the only owner the team has known—who removed himself from league matters years ago after his push for a Los Angeles solution fell through, who unceremoniously put his team up for sale after multiple allegations of workplace misconduct, who hasn’t granted a press conference since the last NFL lockout and who twice presided over an NFC championship team but never hoisted the Lombardi.

Tepper already appears far more accessible than Richardson. He’s clearly more outspoken, calling the then-Republican nominee Donald Trump “the father of lies” before the election, giving an emotional speech at his alma mater’s commencement and commenting on two different reporters’ hairstyles days later after being approved as the newest owner.

All that winning he has done in boardrooms has led him here. Now he wants to win on the field.

“When you look at him being part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” veteran Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said, “I think the proof is in the pudding when you look at their history as a championship football program. We’re looking forward to him being that same thing here.”

• Click here to read The MMQB’s Complete NFL Owner’s Guide

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