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Sharing the wealth has made NFL owners the richest in the world

Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stops to speak to reporters outside the NFL owners meeting in Irving, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


Forbes magazine is out with its annual estimate of the value of all of the world’s major sports franchises, and it’s a list that says something about just how much of a financial juggernaut the NFL has become.

According to Forbes, all 32 of the NFL’s franchises are among the 52 most valuable franchises in the world. (Forbes touts its list as the Top 50 global sports franchises, but the magazine notes that the Rams and Jaguars would check in at No. 51 and No. 52.)

Spanish soccer team Real Madrid is the most valuable franchise, with an estimated value of $3.3 billion, and it’s followed by two more European soccer teams, Barcelona and Manchester United. The New York Yankees are fourth, at $2.3 billion.

But what separates the NFL from European soccer and Major League Baseball is revenue sharing: No individual NFL franchise is worth as much as the biggest soccer clubs or the most popular baseball team, but even the bottom NFL franchises are worth much more than the mid-level teams in soccer and baseball. The revenues from the NFL’s enormous national television popularity are split 32 ways, making every owner very rich.

Only seven soccer and seven baseball teams made the Top 50 list, along with three NBA teams, two Formula 1 auto racing teams and one NHL team. In other sports, the rich teams are very rich, but the teams in the middle and the teams at the bottom are much poorer than the middle and bottom teams in the NFL. Splitting the revenue pie evenly has been very good for everyone in the NFL.