Dallas Cowboys Most Profitable Sports Team in World

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A new study by Forbes lists the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL as the world’s most profitable sports franchise over the last three years. Forbes used data from MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and soccer teams and ranked them by operating income. Forbes defines operating income as “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.”

For the NFL, data is complete through the 2021 season. For the other four sports, the data Forbes used is through 2022.

1. Dallas Cowboys – $1.171B

The Dallas Cowboys are the world’s only franchise valued at more than $8 billion, and it is the only team in the world that profited by more than $1 billion over the last three years. The NFL has four teams in the top 10, and 13 teams in the top 25, because in 2021 each of the 32 teams took in $198 million from their television broadcasting deal.

The Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl in 27 years. But their branding is one of the most recognizable in the world, and they have been one of the richest teams in the NFL since Jerry Jones paid a then-record $140 million to buy them in 1989.

2. New England Patriots – $623M

Unlike the Cowboys, the New England Patriots place on this list is directly because of winning. In 2000, they ranked third from the bottom in the NFL in operating income, making just $600,000 that year. In total value, they ranked behind teams like the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans.

Now, six Super Bowl wins later, the Patriots are a worldwide brand and the second-most profitable team in the world. Even without Tom Brady for two of three years in this study, New England has continued to thrive.

3. Tottenham Hotspur – $414M

Tottenham isn’t one of the world’s winningest soccer clubs in the world. But they do have a relatively new stadium in the north of London that has helped them become the world’s most profitable soccer club. 

Tottenham last won the Premier League in 1961, and they last won the FA Cup in 1991.

4. New York Knicks – $404M

Another team that hasn’t tasted the thrill of victory in several decades is the New York Knicks, the most profitable team in the NBA. This past season marked the 50th anniversary of the Knicks last NBA championship.

The average ticket to watch the Knicks in person at Madison Square Garden was $199 last season, moving them ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers as the most expensive ticket in all of basketball.

5. Manchester United – $403M

It has been 10 years since Manchester United last won the Premier League, and 15 years since they won the UEFA Champions League. Still, this is one of the most recognizable sports teams on the planet, one of the most popular, and it remains as one of the most profitable.

Even as the sale of United drags into a fifth month since offers to the Glazer family were first received, the brand of this club has not diminished.

6. Houston Texans – $356M

The Houston Texans are not the obvious choice for the third-most profitable NFL team, and sixth-most in the world. They have no championships and no real marketable stars. The Texans do, however, have 7.2 million people in their metropolitan area to feed ticket and apparel sales, and local media contracts.

7. Golden State Warriors – $348M

Unlike the Texans of the NFL, the Golden State Warriors have a winning tradition (four NBA titles in the last nine years) and one of the biggest stars in the game in Stephen Curry. They also play in an arena in San Francisco that just opened in 2019.

8. New York Giants – $333M

The NFL’s New York Giants have long been listed as one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, and one of the most profitable. Playing just outside of New York, their gate receipts alone generate $93 million a season.

9. Los Angeles Lakers – $333M

The Los Angeles Lakers have helped LeBron James rake in the money, and James has done the same for the Lakers. Stars want to be seen courtside at Lakers games, and basketball fans around the world want to be seen wearing Lakers gear, which once again leads the NBA in merchandise sold.

10. Manchester City – $329M

Rounding out the top 10 is the fourth soccer club on the list, Manchester City. They just won the Premier League for the third consecutive season, and fifth time in six years. Their nine total first division championships ties them for fourth all-time. City also has Norwegian forward Erling Haaland, who just broke the record for most goals scored in a single Premier League season with 36.

Yankees Missing from List

Because Major League Baseball played one of the three seasons represented in these numbers without any fans in attendance, there are no baseball teams in the top 25. In a future three-year period, the New York Yankees would be among the leaders because of their $143 million rights deal with YES Network, and over $105 million in annual ticket sales.

The Yankees are baseball’s only franchise valued at more than $7 billion.

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