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The World’s Most Profitable Sports Teams: Cowboys, Knicks, Man United & More

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
You know who the most valuable teams are, but who’s driving the biggest cash flows? Spoiler alert: when it comes to profits in sports, the NFL is king.

The power of a dollar. No, it’s not just a shelved 50 Cent album that should have been the LP home of arguably the most bap-bap-bap diss track in hip-hop history, “How to Rob” — rather, it’s something to reckon with regarding the explosive growth of investment in global sports as our eyes pop Looney Tunes-style.

Every year, outlets like Forbes and Sportico put together their exhaustively-researched lists of the world’s most valuable sports teams. The data points these projects bring to bear are instructive in tracking just how seriously investment in leagues like the NFL, NBA, and England’s Premier League has skyrocketed in the past decade, but what they don’t tend to take into account is a separate sports business metric that speaks to a different type of power the biggest clubs can bring to bear: money in the bank.

Fortunately, there are

Let’s talk the most profitable sports teams on the planet over the past three years, starting with a couple of NFL franchises that have combined to win nearly one out of every five Super Bowls ever to take place.

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Most Profitable Sports Franchises in the World

Based on three-year operating income figures as calculated by Mike Ozanian of Forbes. “Operating income” refers to a team’s effective revenue after all costs and asset depreciations are subtracted.

RANKTEAMLEAGUECOUNTRY3-YR. OPERATING
INCOME
1Dallas CowboysNFLUSA$1.17B
2New England PatriotsNFLUSA$623M
3Tottenham HotspurPremier LeagueEngland$414M
4New York KnicksNBAUSA$404M
5Manchester UnitedPremier LeagueEngland$403M
6Houston TexansNFLUSA$356M
7Golden State WarriorsNBAUSA$348M
8Los Angeles LakersNBAUSA$333M
9New York GiantsNFLUSA$333M
10Manchester CityPremier LeagueEngland$329M
11Los Angeles RamsNFLUSA$318M
12LiverpoolPremier LeagueEngland$295M
13Washington CommandersNFLUSA$290M
14Chicago BullsNBAUSA$288M
15Chicago BearsNFLUSA$288M
16Dallas MavericksNBAUSA$282M
17Jacksonville JaguarsNFLUSA$281M
18Boston CelticsNBAUSA$269M
19Denver BroncosNFLUSA$266M
20Miami DolphinsNFLUSA$260M
21New York JetsNFLUSA$253M
22Pittsburgh SteelersNFLUSA$245M
23Houston RocketsNBAUSA$240M
24Philadelphia EaglesNFLUSA$239M
25Bayern MunichBundesligaGermany$235M

Fast Facts About the World’s Most Profitable Sports Teams

  • The No. 1 team by profitability, the Dallas Cowboys, also routinely ranks No. 1 on all major annual lists of the most valuable sports teams overall. They boast nearly double the operating income of the No. 2 New England Patriots and nearly triple that of No. 3 Tottenham Hotspur.
  • Exactly half of the top 20 most profitable teams are from the NFL, as well as 13 of the top 25.
  • Four of the top 12 represent England’s Premier League; Real Madrid ranks either No. 1 (Forbes) or No. 2 (Sportico) among the world’s most valuable soccer clubs but does not crack Forbes’ top 25 in operating income.
  • Of the four Premier League clubs on this list, two are majority-owned by Americans with holdings in other major sports: Manchester United (Glazer family; Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Liverpool (Fenway Sports Group; Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins). Stan Kroenke, who owns the No. 11-ranked Los Angeles Rams, also owns Premier League side Arsenal FC.

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About The Author
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is the Managing Editor of Boardroom. Before joining the team, he was an editor and multimedia talent for several sports and culture verticals at Minute Media and an editor, reporter, and site manager at SB Nation. A specialist in content strategy, copywriting, and SEO, he has additionally worked as a digital consultant in the corporate services, retail, and tech industries. He cannot be expected to be impartial on any matter regarding the Florida Gators or Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter @RealFakeSamDunn.