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Who is Mat Ishbia?

Last Updated: December 21, 2022
Everything you need to know about the new owner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury

Mat Ishbia, the 42-year-old billionaire chairman and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, is finalizing a deal to purchase the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. The deal will see scandal-ridden majority stakeholder Robert Sarver cede the two franchises for a reported $4 billion.

Ishbia’s father Jeff founded UWM in 1986 and instilled a love of sports in the Michigan native. Mat, a 5’10 guard, played 115 total minutes over 48 games for Michigan State‘s basketball team in college. He was on the Spartans’ 2000 national championship team and on the 1999 and 2001 Final Four squads, before graduating from MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business in 2003.

Ishbia has remained a strong supporter of Michigan State athletics. In 2021, he donated $32 million to the school — the largest single donation in MSU history. That included $20 million for a new football facility and a new basketball court that would be named for Izzo. Additionally, Ishbia told HBO that he contributed $14 million to the 10-year, $95 million contract extension given to head football coach Mel Tucker.

After graduation, Mat joined his dad at UWM as part of a 12-person team based out of Pontiac, a Detroit suburb. After working at several positions across the company, he succeeded his father as chairman and CEO in 2013.

UWM claimed $107.7 billion in wholesale volume in 2019, with $415 million in profits. The company reportedly threw a holiday party where it gave away Cadillacs and The Chainsmokers performed. In January 2021, Ishbia took the company public in one of the largest SPAC deals ever, selling 6% of the company to a SPAC managed by billionaire investor Alec Gores and raising $925 million in cash at a $16 billion valuation. It made Ishbia an instant billionaire. Right now, Bloomberg values Ishbia at $5.59 billion, and Forbes at $5.1 billion.

This isn’t the first time Ishbia has shown interest in buying a sports franchise, either; he told The Washington Post in November that he was interested in bidding on the Washington Commanders.

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Interestingly, Ishbia’s UWM is a direct competitor with Rocket Mortgage, owned by Cleveland Cavaliers majority stakeholder and fellow MSU alum Dan Gilbert. Last year, Ishbia made waves by saying it wouldn’t do business with any broker who continues to do business with Rocket Mortgage, escalating a war that could add some spice to a budding Suns-Cavs rivalry.

Ishbia comes to Phoenix following an independent investigation into workplace misconduct within the Suns and Mercury organizations centering on Sarver’s alleged abusive behavior and harassment of women and men. The NBA suspended him for one year in September and fined him $10 million for his behavior, which it says was frequently sexual in nature and included repeated racist remarks. A week later, Sarver announced that he was exploring a sale of both franchises.

The Suns made the NBA Finals in 2021 and have an estimated valuation of $1.8 billion, according to Forbes. The Mercury struggled this season but likewise made the Finals in 2021, and the WNBA’s popularity soared to new heights this year, particularly when gauging attendanceviewership, and parternships.

The Athletic notes Mat’s brother Justin will also be a significant investor and serve as alternate governor for the Suns.

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