Learn more about Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford, including education, net worth and more.
Education: Vassar College
How She Acquired the Franchise: Her late husband, William Clay Ford Sr., purchased the team from a consortium of 144 shareholders for $4.5 million in 1963, on the same day JFK was assassinated in Dallas.
Net Worth: $1.5 billion (per Forbes in 2018)
Franchise Valuation: $1.7 billion (per Forbes in 2017)
How She Made Her Money: Martha’s grandfather was tire manufacturer Harvey Firestone, and her husband’s grandfather was the immortal car manufacturer Henry Ford. The two married in 1947 in what local papers called “the biggest society wedding in Akron’s history” and “the biggest show Akron has seen in years.”
In the Owner’s Words: Responding to President Donald Trump’s call for league owners to fire players who disrespect the flag by protesting, Ford wrote in a statement, “Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation. Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind.
“Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”
Political Donations: Martha donated $1K to Paul Ryan in 2016. Her son, William Clay Ford Jr., has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Michigan Republican Party, $28K in total to joint fundraisers that overwhelmingly support Republicans, $20K to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and another $10K to the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee in ’12. All of those donations were under the title of chairman of Ford, not under any direct affiliation to the Lions.
Next in Line: Martha’s son William Clay Ford Jr. is currently both the vice chairman of the Lions and the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company.