When Jay-Z decided to launch a sports agency six years ago, a well-connected league insider explained Jay-Z’s ambition in simple terms: He wants to own a team.
Today’s deal with the NFL nudges Jay-Z far closer to that goal, if that indeed is the objective. He now has a formal relationship with the league, giving other owners a chance to get to know him well, naturally allowing the development of a familiarity that most potential owners never have when they show up and try to buy a team.
Jay-Z also has a chance to build up plenty of goodwill with owners, especially if the arrangement between NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has anything to do with, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports has connected the dots, the 2017 comments from Bills owner Terry Pegula that the NFL needs a Charlton Heston-style spokesman to “promote all of the good things” that the league and its players are doing in the area of social justice and racial equality. If Jay-Z becomes that spokesman, he builds intangible equity in his quest to eventually acquire tangible equity in an NFL franchise.
Of course, it takes a lot of money to serve as a team’s majority owner, and Jay-Z’s estimated net worth of $1 billion would not be nearly enough to both own the minimum percentage required to be controlling owner, and to pay the various bills that need to be paid in order to keep the business functioning.
Perhaps Jay-Z would start as a Jon Bon Jovi-style owner, serving as the face of the group while the person with the controlling share opts to stay in the shadows, honoring the maxim that the only thing better than being rich and famous is being rich.
Regardless, there’s almost always a bigger play when a big deal like this is announced. And Jay-Z’s end game may continue to be what some thought it was in 2013: To eventually own an NFL team.