Major League Soccer has grown in popularity and business model in its 26 years. Gone are the days of the question if MLS will survive, and in are the days of the league’s potential. Teams like Atlanta United, Seattle Sounders, LAFC, and Nashville SC are accustomed to playing in front of over 20,000 fans per game.
With 27 teams and a goal to get to 30, MLS has limitless potential as the demographics of the United States change and embrace the world's game more and more.
That growth has not gone unnoticed and major sports figures and celebrities have bought a piece of various MLS teams. Here is a list of celebrity owners of MLS franchises.
Austin FC - Matthew McConaughey
Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is a minority owner of MLS latest franchise Austin FC. Aside from being an owner, McConaughey has embraced his role as an MLS ambassador, doing media tours and social media videos for both his team and league. In a USA Today interview the actor said, "I've always dreamed of being on the ground level… There are shortcuts everywhere. ... We're trying to build a big strong oak (tree). This is a 100-year war. We have the long view for what we're going to become."
DC United - Mark Ingram
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram became a minority owner of legendary and 4-time MLS champion DC United in 2021. “D.C. United are a club rich with tradition and ripe with promise. I am excited about the recent investments the club has made to build towards a sustainable future and the decisions they have taken at the leadership level both on and off the pitch. Additionally, the club’s values have been on full display recently and they align with my beliefs,” the former NFL player said in a statement upon revealing he bought a stake in the club.
Houston Dynamo - James Harden and Oscar de la Hoya
On June 28, 2021, the Houston Dynamo announced the sale of the club to new majority owner Ted Segal, along with a rebrand of their crest the Dynamo are going through some adjustments as they look to once again become a major player in MLS. Staying on as minority owners is boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya and Brooklyn nets star James Harden.
LAFC - Will Ferrell, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Mia Hamm Garciaparra, Nomar Garciaparra, Tony Robbins
To say LAFC does not have star power is an understatement, one of the most diverse ownership groups in all of Major League Soccer the list of stakeholders is a who who’s of stardom: Actor and comedian Will Ferrell, NBA legend Magic Johnson, women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm, former MLB star Nomar Garciaparra, and famous life coach Tony Robbins all have a stake in the new LA club.
Inter Miami FC - David Beckham
When David Beckham signed with the L.A. Galaxy in 2007, he ushered in a new era for MLS and the beginning of the league truly taking off. Beckham had it written in his contract that he could become a team owner when he retired. Miami became an obsession for Beckham, and after many failed attempts finally got the team off the ground in 2018. It hasn’t gone as well as Beckham would have thought the club has performed poorly and was at the center of a scandal when it was found out the club broke various MLS roster rules to sign players who would have hit the salary cap hard in 2021, the club was fined and sanctioned.
Philadelphia Union - Kevin Durant
NBA superstar Kevin Durant was impressed by what the Philadelphia Union were doing at the grassroots level, and this pushed him to buy a 5% stake in the club. “(The Union) broke everything down, from what they wanted to do in the community, to the campus that they want to build in Chester, how they want to impact the youth leagues even more, and putting it all back in a community that is predominantly black," Durant told ESPN. "It just made sense."
Sporting KC - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes shocked everyone recently when it was announced that the 25-year-old became a minority owner in hometown club Sporting Kansas City. “I am grateful for the opportunity to join Sporting Kansas City’s ownership team and strengthen my connection to the fans and the city I love,” Mahomes said. “Sporting is a community-oriented club, and I am excited to continue supporting the growth of soccer in Kansas City.”
Seattle Sounders - Drew Carey, Russell Wilson, Ciara, Macklemore, Ken Griffey Jr.
Before LAFC brought star power the pioneer of MLS celebrity owner was comedian Drew Carey. Carey became fascinated by the fan culture of European soccer and that led him to buy a stake in the Seattle Sounders when the club was about to launch in 2007. The list of other celeb stakeholders is Russell Wilson, Ciara, Macklemore, and retired baseball player Ken Griffey Jr.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Steve Nash
NBA legend Steve Nash is a soccer fanatic! He is a Tottenham Hotspur supporter and purchased a stake in the Whitecaps back in 2008. Since then, Nash got involved in Mallorca in 2016 and hopes that the Whitecaps can find their way to success in MLS.