President Trump’s History with Sports
February 8, 2017
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We all know that Donald Trump ran for President of the United States and won, but there have been times in President Trump’s life where he has tried something and failed miserably. You may be thinking “wow you aren’t kidding, he has failed at a lot of things” and that’s where you’re right, but there is one particular industry that has shunned him repeatedly – that industry is the sports industry.
It all started in 1983. Trump was a 37-year-old hot shot who had just put a tower in the middle of Manhattan and a couple of casinos in Atlantic City. He was on the rise, and he wanted to take his money to professional football. After a failed attempt to buy the NFL’S Baltimore Colts, Trump turned to the upstart USFL to try to buy a professional football franchise. With a $6 million bid, Trump was able to buy the New Jersey Generals, an underachieving franchise with future NFL star running back Herschel Walker at the helm of the offense.
The Generals improved under Trumps ownership but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more money, more power, and more fame. The USFL was very unique because it included video replays, two-point conversions, and excessive end zone celebrations, all things that the NFL banned or didn’t have at the time. The most important marketing campaign for the USFL was that they played football in the spring, which allowed the league to co-exist with the NFL.
This idea of spring football did not sit well with Mr. Trump. He decided that he wanted to go head to head with the NFL in the fall and sue them in an antitrust case. He ultimately won and lost the case at the same time. The court ruled that the NFL was a monopoly and that it violated antitrust law by “excluding competition within major league football”. The ruling is what Trump wanted to hear, but that was only one of the nine counts that they sued for. The USFL was awarded $1 as a result of the ruling, and because the award of an antitrust case is tripled the ultimate prize was $3. This caused the USFL to cease operations, but it did not cease the drive of Mr. Trump. In 1988 Trump again turned to the NFL to buy a professional franchise, and was offered the New England Patriots. He looked over their financial situation and declared that it was one of the worst financial situations he had ever seen, and didn’t want to be a part of it. The Patriots have won four super bowls since then, so I guess they have fixed their financial situation.
As you can see the NFL has shafted Trump from their operations over the years, but that didn’t stop him from getting into other sports. In the late 80s Trump began to host boxing matches at his own Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Trump used Mike Tyson as a marketing tool to get into the industry. Trump was able to host Tysons fourth, fifth and ninth career fights at the Plaza, which all ended in knockouts. The legend of Tyson was growing and Trump saw an opportunity that he couldn’t pass. After Tyson’s successful title defenses against Tyrell Biggs and Larry Holmes in Las Vegas, Trump decided to pay an excess of $11 million to have Tyson’s title fight against Michael Spinks back to the Plaza. This fight turned out to be the highest earning fight in history to that point, and also the highest grossing single day sporting event to that point. With this fight, Trump was able to change the face of boxing, but he was never able to reach the same level of quality fights. Like all other things, Trump made his money in boxing and then left it to fend for itself like many other things.
After his NFL and Boxing days Trump then turned to the world of golf, tennis and even the WWE. Over the years, Trump has built 17 golf properties all over the United States. He even has golf properties in Scotland, Ireland, and Dubai. In the early 2000s Trump tried his hand at being a tennis manager. He managed U.S. tennis player Monique Viele, but her highest singles rank was 817 in the world rankings. After getting bored with tennis he then moved on to a stint with Vince McMahon.
In 2007, Trump participated in what was called the “Battle of the Billionaires” during WrestleMania 23. In this publicity stunt, Trump shaved McMahon’s head after winning a bet, body slammed him, and then got stone cold stunned by “stone cold” Steve Austin. I’m sure Trump made a lot of money participating in this stunt, but it didn’t do anything for his already damaged image. In 2008 after the Bernie Madoff scandal hit the New York Mets organization, Trump offered to buy the team from the Wilpons but was rejected. In 2014, after a 20-year hiatus from torturing the NFL, Trump returned with a bid to buy the Buffalo Bills. He ended up being outbid by Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres.
Flash forward to 2017 and Donald Trump won the bid to run the biggest organization in the world, The United States. This job has taken his interest away from owning an NFL team, but I am sure he will treat it the same way. He is not physically involved in sports anymore, but his policies are affecting athletes just the same. Trump’s immigration ban has affected Olympians many athletes across the four major sports. We will have to wait and see how these policies play out, but it is safe to say that Trump has had a big impact on sports and there is no going back.