Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys for $140 million in 1989. Forbes now estimates the Cowboys are the world’s most valuable sports franchise, worth $4.2 billion.
But in 1989, the Cowboys didn’t appear a wise investment. The Cowboys were losing $1 million per month when Jones purchased the franchise from Bum Bright.
In fact, during a 1984 interview with The New York Times, Donald Trump admitted he turned down an opportunity to buy the Cowboys and questioned why anyone would have interest in buying the NFL team.
“I could have bought an NFL team,” Trump told reporter Ira Berkow. “There were three or four available — that still are available, including, of course, the Dallas Cowboys.
“I could have bought an NFL club for $40 million or $50 million, but it’s established and you would just see it move laterally. Not enough to create there.”
Trump instead became owner of the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League, and Bright bought the Cowboys from Clint Murchison for $85 million in 1984. It obviously turned out well for both Trump and Jones in the long run, and Bright profited from his sale to Jones, but 30-plus years ago, Trump saw the Cowboys and the NFL as a lose-lose.
“I feel sorry for the poor guy who is going to buy the Dallas Cowboys,” Trump said. “It’s a no-win situation for him, because if he wins, well, so what, they’ve won through the years, and if he loses, which seems likely because they’re having troubles, he’ll be known to the world as a loser.”