Map: Is Your Favorite Sports Team for Romney or Obama?

Monday, August 20, 2012

In a town with two football teams, local fans are divided. Turns out the same goes for the team owners and their politics.

A big RNC donor owns the AFC team, a DNC donor the NFC team. We're talking about Woody Johnson and Jonathan Tisch, owners of the New York Jets and Giants, respectively.

Johnson's a Republican bundler who's contributed over $70,000 to national Republican committees, presidential candidates, and a pro-Romney PAC this election cycle. Tisch has given over $60,000 to Barack Obama and Democratic committees.

Basketball in the Big Apple? Similar story. Knicks owner James Dolan contributes to Mitt Romney; Nets co-owner Bruce Ratner gives to Obama.

This situation—a cross-town sports rivalry that also plays out in the owners' diverging politics—is not unique to New York. On opposite sides of the Bay, a Democratic donor heads up the San Francisco Giants, and a Republican runs the Oakland A's. Further down the coast, there's a similar divide between the L.A. Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels.

Most professional sports team owners are active donors to political campaigns. That’s not a total surprise—these are venture capitalists, real estate developers, media magnates, celebrities, all the usual stock of top-dollar campaign financiers.

What is surprising is who gives to whom.

We’ve mapped all the owners of teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues who’ve contributed money to Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican National Committees, Congressional and Senatorial Campaign Committees, and affiliated Super PACs this election cycle. Filter by league or party, zoom to your hometown, and get a detailed breakdown of your team owner's political involvement.

The Big Picture

Owners of teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL have given $1,992,050 to 2012 national election efforts, and most of that to Republican committees and Mitt Romney. Democrats received just over $750,000, while Republicans got nearly $1.25 million.

Major League Baseball was the biggest source of these donations, with team owners contributing over $700,000 this cycle. NFL owners cleared the half-million-dollar mark; NBA owners were just shy. The least amount of money came from the NHL, where owners have only given $272,800.

In each league donations to Republican efforts outpaced donations to Democrats. That gap was closest among NBA owners, who gave $215,200 to Democrats and $271,550 to Republicans. It was also the only league to give more money to the Obama campaign ($20,000) than to the Romney campaign ($18,500).


Of all the teams in all four leagues, owners of the L.A. Dodgers have given the most money of the 2012 cycle. The four owners, Magic Johnson among them, combined for almost $180,000 in contributions to President Obama’s re-election.

The most generous single owner was Gregory Maffei of the Atlanta Braves, who dished $157,500 to Mitt Romney, American Crossroads, Restore Our Future, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Trouble at Home

Speaking of Romney, the teams he might root for don’t necessarily root back. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, gave $17,900 to Obama and the DNC. Stephen Pagliuca, an owner of the Boston Celtics, gave over $66,000 to Democrats. Pagliuca’s also a managing partner at Bain Capital, which may ring a bell. Owners of the Red Sox and the Bruins show a little more love for the former governor.

Only one franchise owner in Obama’s hometown contributed to the horse race: William Wirtz of the Chicago Blackhawks. He gave $1,000 to Tim Pawlenty. 

Back in New York City, the political rivalry between football and basketball owners doesn't play out in baseball. Mets owner Fred Wilpon gave $2,500 to Mitt Romney. And while the Steinbrenners have been quiet this year, George III was known to give to Republicans.

Earlier this summer we saw that a franchise owner's politics could get people buying or boycotting chicken sandwiches. Could the same happen with season tickets?

We're not betting on it. Sports fandom is one of those sacred, primordial loyalties—a completely irrational allegiance that makes some of us paint our bodies and stand near-naked in sub-freezing temperatures for hours at a time. Finding out your owner plays for the other political team probably won't test your faith nearly as much as a quarterback time-share that's half Tim Tebow, or the cold turkey quitting of Jeremy Lin.


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Comments [39]


all they to do is fix the the economy and the government!

Aug. 24 2012 10:48 PM
tallgirl1014 from California

Since Brady and Belichick are Republicans, I wonder how they feel about Kraft giving money to the Democratic Party?? I honestly don't understand how anyone could give money to a Party who is trying to destroy our freedoms. We cannot handle another 4 years of Obama UNLESS the Republicans have the majority in the Senate. The Democrats have control and where has it helped us?

Aug. 24 2012 04:30 PM
Bruce Rodney from Seattle

interesting tracking. i actually think this is more and more useful tool - watching where your money and support goes, in addition to your vote.

this gives us Seattle-ites more reason to boo the Thunder, after losing the SuperSonics, since their owner hands over so much to the GOP (not a strong party up here in the NW). but my NFL team will always be the Packers - and when a community owns a team, instead of one owner - you'll have to dig deeper to figure out where the WI voters's probably split given the current climate, but some Packers did go public with their support of labor in last year's political battles.

Aug. 23 2012 12:24 PM

This virtually guarantees my Dodgers won't win the division. There is way more to this election than just Dems and Repubs. We're in a war for survival of the USA.

Aug. 22 2012 12:47 PM
Kevin from NC

Might want to check your facts. The Bobcats aren't owned by Bob Johnson anymore. Perhaps you've never heard of their new owner, Michael Jordan.

Aug. 22 2012 12:43 PM
JLO from Laguna Niguel

Dodgers owners giving to Obama? I see only Magic Johnson listed....what are the totals when you look at ALL of the owners. I believe Magic owns a small percentage. What about Mr Kasten's contributions?

Aug. 22 2012 11:35 AM
Julian from Atlanta

Republicians can give more because they make more. They make more because they WORK for a living, rather that wait for the Democratic administrations to give them something. (and they give what is taken from those that WORK)

Aug. 22 2012 11:19 AM
Julian from Atlanta

BLS from Austin. You are an idiot. These men that give to the republicians aren't doing it on your back unless you call people that actually create the jobs as doing that on your back.

Aug. 22 2012 11:04 AM
Hank from Carolina

Who says, "politics and sports doesn't mix". The difference between a politician and an sports owner is the "tax breaks". One has perks and the other has luxury or could they both fall into the same category?

Aug. 22 2012 10:34 AM
TX671 from Texas

@ BLS from Austin, TX: They are millionaires, but look at Hollywood. They are also millionaires and they are, by far, mostly Democrats and donate their money to the Democratic campaigns.

Aug. 22 2012 09:40 AM
BLS from Austin, TX

Not surprised that most donate to the Repulicans - they are multi-milloniars so they are protecting their "hard-earned dollars" by riding the backs of the middle class. It is the status-quo for the "poor" rich kids!

Aug. 22 2012 09:08 AM
Pat from South CArolina

I knew my Atlanta Braves were the best ever! Way to go owner...I'll keep supporting you. You keeping supporting the right one (Mitt). Love ye'.

Aug. 22 2012 08:55 AM
George from Brooklyn

I was surprised. Given the performance of the Mets this year, I didn't know Fred Wilpon had $2,500 to spend.

Aug. 22 2012 12:59 AM

Obama didn't win on race alone he won because he made false promises he couldn't keep! Let's see how many African Americans cast a vote this coming election. Fact is many African Americans feel betrayed and will not cast their votes next presidental election! Also, I am more concerned with how Obama spends my tax dollars than how Romney spends his own money!

Aug. 22 2012 12:53 AM

Patrick, I think the pathetic one is you. Instead of spouting your lies, do some research. Obama got elected based on race alone is a falsehood. The majority of blacks (approx 98%) vote democratic. Bill Clinton pulled over 95% of the black vote when he won the Presidency. President Obama got 97%. That's really a huge difference, right. Yea , I thought so. Give me a break. Same tired lie repeated over and over again

Aug. 21 2012 11:40 PM
nysnycbk from nj

Why is it that most player in pro sports are minorities and would vote for the President Obama but there owner will help the republicans?

Aug. 21 2012 10:06 PM
wile from Florida

Don't get what the map is supposed to do. All I can do is zoom in or out?????

Aug. 21 2012 08:19 PM
ROCKY WITH 16 SHOT GLOCK from Des Moines, Iowa

Enough evidence is what should be the deciding factor in any case. Any police or D. A. office personnel who refuse to arrest or prosecute accordingly, should be fired. The people must be protected. That's why the streets of the Bronx are dangerous. People, women, and children, should be made to feel safe. THIS IS INTOLERABLE!

Aug. 21 2012 07:55 PM
stephen didovich

what you did here was take investors and minority share owners
and commented on their political affiliations the ny giants are
coowned by the families of wellington mara and robert tisch. Bob
Tisch always supported republicans i would not know where Wellington Mara was politically. Also Dan Rooney is Republican but
supported Obama 4years ago because of economic conditions in western Pennsylvania he thought Dems would be better. He was rewarded with ambassador to Ireland.

Aug. 21 2012 07:42 PM

@Diego Viejo I think you misunderstood the post you are speaking about. The person said "the old man must be turning in his grave." The old man he is speaking of is Dan Rooney's dad, Art "Chief" Rooney, who was a staunch republican. So, Art's son donating to the Obama campaign would surely have him "turning in his grave." Lets hope Dan's son, Art Rooney II, will not be a democractic supporter.

Aug. 21 2012 06:51 PM
Richard Clayton Brown from Guam

I was always a Dodgers fan, even when they were in Brooklyn. They were always the smarter choice. They make smart choices too.

Aug. 21 2012 06:46 PM
diego viejo from gainesville, fla

The person who said Rooney backed Obama and received an Ambassordoreship to Ireland and is now turning over in his grave would be Dan Rooney who is still Ambassador to Ireland and is very much alive. Dan is a Republican and gave $30.000 to the Democratic Party. Most of the Rooneys are Republicans at least the ones in Florida. Hopefully they have convinced Dan so that he comes to his senses and doesn't support Obama anymore.

Aug. 21 2012 06:19 PM
mac from Long Beach, CA

Why don't they just donate to the national debt? Neither one of these canidates is worth a darn!

Aug. 21 2012 06:14 PM
Alex Padick

I am very glad that the Steinbrenner boys have decided to stay out of the presidential money sweepstakes. The Yankees are and should be above the fray. Being a Yankee fan, I am proud of my ownership

Aug. 21 2012 05:50 PM
calikid1 from galt,ca

Did't Rooney get paid back with a ambasadorship to Ireland , the old man must be turning in his grave!!!

Aug. 21 2012 05:49 PM
Peter Kelting

Everybody who is considering voting for Obama, especially Doug from Birmingham, needs to see the movie "America 2016" & read the book "Amateur". He will raise the debt triple fold from what he did his first 4 years & take us right down the path of Socialism with Obama care. You say trickle down economics doesn't work. You better take a look at the socialistic countries in Europe. It's done wonders for them. Yes, Congress does run the country & it's been the Dem controlled Senate that has done nothing for this country.

Aug. 21 2012 05:48 PM
Ed Boyle

I don't think this thing works. How much was donated and to who by the Cleveland, Washington, and Baltimore teams? I did what the story said and all I get is a better look at a map of those cities.

Aug. 21 2012 05:34 PM
godfather from eugene OR

ram, you might want to ram a dictionary into a fitting part of your personage

Aug. 21 2012 04:51 PM

Well Doug if you actually payed attention it is more on congress as to what happens. Bush had democrats and your oh so beloved president Clinton had a republican congress. So actually the republican congress keeps bills down while democrats are spend happy. anyone with a high school diploma should know that. The bigger the govt the bigger the bills.

Aug. 21 2012 04:51 PM
Browncoat from Hampton, NH

You mean the Bush that had a Democrat Congress...? The Congress with Dodd and Frank that pushed the low interest housing bill that did more to get us in this mess and anything else? Yeah, and Bush signed it and TARP so it's wasn't just him that did it. The Leftists had way more to do with it than the Conservatives.

Aug. 21 2012 04:34 PM
Doug from Birmingham

RE:ram. You need to get your facts straight on WHO created this economic mess. It was not President Obama! If you look back for the past decade you will notice a pattern. Whenever a republican president leaves, it takes his replacement (usually a Democrat)two terms(8yrs to straighten out or clean up the mess they left. It happened with daddy Bush in '93 and Clinton had to clean up afterwards, and now baby Bush has done the same thing plus ruined the worlds financial system and you expect Obama to clean it up in 4yrs? Remove head from sand and see the beautiful sunlight! (*In 2007 the debt was $9 trillion and all created by Reagan and Bush even with the reduction of the debt by Clinton. The debt started risng under Reagan and went over 60%GDP in 1989. Reagan started the deficit we have now and bush built on it under their trickle down economics which does not nor ever has worked. Conservatives invented the story that "the Dems did it", but history shows that for 12 of the last 20yrs, Congress was not Democratic.) Everyone knows (or should know)that Congress runs the country, not the President. The President can only veto bad bills, but Congress can override his veto if they want.

*source: (National Debt Graph 1929-2009)

Aug. 21 2012 04:20 PM
David P from St. Johnsbury, VT

Why not learn when to use "whom" before you submit another story.

Aug. 21 2012 04:05 PM
MrBillin TX from Houston

So that's why George Soros, Michael Moore and Bill Mahr are giving so many $ to the Republicans!

Aug. 21 2012 03:43 PM
John Quinlan from Texas

map does nothing. What is it supposed to be?
List only shows a few teams. Really useless.

Aug. 21 2012 03:41 PM
Bob Pesce from Texas

If the subject of the Poll is truly stated as Money then the GOP always wins the race. The assumption is if the Money side wins then then moneyed will effect laws to keep their money and not pay taxes. If money is required for the needs of the country then taxpayers ( those who are not moneyed) will be asked to contribute more.

Aug. 21 2012 03:38 PM
JL from Chicago

Richer you are more money you give to Republican party... because if it wins, maybe you will pay less taxes and be richer...! Beautiful , isn't-it?

Aug. 21 2012 03:22 PM

Thanks for flagging that the map wasn't working for you. There was a glitch that has since been resolved.

Aug. 21 2012 02:44 PM
Miguel from Chicago

Left out of this discussion was how the father of Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, got into trouble over a proposed donation to a Republican PAC which was going to finance a TV ad with a racially charged attack against President Obama. That donation was quickly pulled and the Ricketts family went through a public relations nightmare because of it. Let it be said that the Ricketts family should be more focused on putting a winning Cubs team on the field.

Aug. 21 2012 02:39 PM
Kevin from Denver, CO

The map doesn't work... Would really like to see this - but doesn't work on any platform I am using.

Aug. 21 2012 02:31 PM

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