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Hollywood actors like Will Ferrell and Matthew McConaughey, current and former NBA stars like James Harden, Kevin Durant and Magic Johnson, and music idols like Macklemore all have something in common: they are shareholders of teams in the United States professional soccer league, MLS.
Soccer is the fastest growing professional sport in the United States, so investing in one of the 27 franchises that currently make up MLS (the league has already been approved to expand to 30 teams) has become a wise financial decision.
Add to this the fact that soccer currently has a patina of prestige that perhaps other sports do not provide, and the context is ideal for attracting famous U.S. celebrities.
One of them is actor Matthew McConaughey, known for his roles in films such as “Dallas Buyers Club”, for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2014, “Interstellar” (2014), “Magic Mike” (2012) or “Lone Star” (1996).
McConaughey, who could become the next governor of his home state of Texas, is also a seasoned businessman who in 2014 was included in the list of the 100 most influential people by “Time” magazine.
And since 2019, McConaughey is one of the owners of Austin FC, a Texan soccer team that this year began playing in MLS. The actor is clear about the potential of soccer in the United States.
“Youth soccer in the United States is big, huge. There is a great commitment. My hope is that in eight or 10 years we are going to see that generation impacting soccer around the world at a great level,” McConaughey said in late 2019.
The actor is convinced that MLS will surpass the professional ice hockey league (NHL) and professional baseball leagues (MLB) in the future.
Will Farrell, another Hollywood actor who starred in comedies such as “Talladega Nights” (2006) and “Step Brothers” (2008), has also decided to invest in one of the MLS teams, in this case Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC).
Ferrell, who is passionate about sports such as baseball, invested in LAFC in 2016, two years before the team joined MLS and is convinced of the power of soccer.
“I love that it’s played all over the world. So many incredible players and so many great leagues. And I hope that, at some point, MLS will be on par with the European leagues,” Ferrell said after taking a stake in LAFC.
Ferrell is not the only star to own part of LAFC. Other investors in the team include comedian Drew Carey, the hallowed ex-NBA Magic Johnson and the husband and wife team of Mia Hamm (one of the iconic players of American soccer) and Nomar Garciaparra (a former professional baseball glory).
Their investment in LAFC has proven to be particularly profitable. In February 2020, some of LAFC’s investors decided to buy part of the shares that Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan held in the team. The acquisition deal valued the Los Angeles Football Club at more than $700 million, the highest figure in MLS.
Kevin Durant and James Harden, two of the NBA’s biggest names and teammates on the Brooklyn Nets, have also decided to put some of the profits they have made from basketball into MLS.
Durant, another seasoned investor and entrepreneur, owns a 5% stake in the Philadelphia Union while Harden took a stake in the Houston Dynamo in 2019. Another Houston Dynamo investor is former boxer Oscar de la Hoya.
Interestingly, Durant and Harden’s coach at the Nets, Canadian Steve Nash, another legendary NBA player, is also co-owner of another MLS team: the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the league’s three Canadian teams. Nash also tried his luck in Europe, from 2016 to 2020 he served on the board of directors of Spain’s Real Mallorca.
Two more names to the list of famous soccer team owners in MLS. On the one hand, rapper Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, known as Macklemore, who became famous with the song “Thrift Shop” and since August 2019 has a stake in the Seatle Sounders team.
And to finish, the only soccer player on the list: Englishman David Beckham, owner and president of operations of Inter Miami CF, who joined MLS in 2020.