Sports owners split among Democrats, Republicans; among players, less division
Sports owners and pro athletes make big money. Many of them also give away some of that money to political causes. In some cities, there's a split among owners. Take Los Angeles, where the Angels' owner backs the Republicans, while the Dodgers ownership backs Democrats. Among players, at least in the NBA, there's no such split.
Sports loyalties often run just as deep as political loyalties, or deeper. Sometimes they even intersect.
For owners of sports teams, typically with plenty of money, that can be especially true.
Take New York City, for example. According to the WNYC's political site Itsafreecountry.com, Jets owner Woody Johnson is a big donor to the Republican National Committee. But his counterpart at the New York Giants, Jonathan Tisch, is a major donor to President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee.
In Los Angeles, Arte Moreno, who owns the Los Angeles Angels, has donated $33,300 to Republican causes in the current cycle, while the group that owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, including Magic Johnson, Todd Boehly, Robert Patton and Mark Walter have donated more than $175,000 to the Democrats.
Stephen Reader, who covers politics for It's a Free Country, said he wondered if some sports fans might be swayed away from their teams if they learned they were supporting people who favored a different candidate or party.
Reader said the majority of sports team owners lean right. And that makes sense, given they fit the profile of the big donors that Republicans court as well.
"They're venture capitalists. They're real estate magnates. They're media moguls. These are people who are more likely, generally, to give to Republican campaigns," he said.
Reader said Boston might be the most surprising spot for team loyalties, considering its where Mitt Romney has lived for years and is based.
Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, for example, is a major Democratic donor. The Boston Celtics' Stephen Pagliuca is also a big Democratic donor. Ironically, Pagliuca is also a partner at Bain Capital, Romney's former firm.
When it comes to players, Reader said, there's not much of a split.
"In the NBA, all the player that we looked at — big Democratic donors," he said. "We couldn't find a single instance of an NBA player giving to Republican candidates."
Obama, of course, is a big basketball fan and a regular attendee of NBA games in Washington, D.C.
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