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Data: ESPN/FiveThirtyEight; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sports team owners in the four largest North American leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) have donated over $46 million in federal elections since 2015, according to research conducted by ESPN and FiveThirtyEight.

By the numbers: Over the past three elections, $35.7 million of that money (77.4%) has gone to Republican campaigns and super PACs, compared to $10.4 million (22.6%) to Democrats.

The Trump donors: Nine owners have contributed to the Trump campaign or Trump super PACs during the 2020 election cycle.

  • ⚾️ MLB: Charles Johnson, Giants; Todd Ricketts, Cubs; Robert Plummer, Dodgers
  • πŸ€ NBA: Dan DeVos, Magic; Tilman Fertitta, Rockets
  • πŸ’ NHL: Bill Foley, Golden Knights; Peter Karmanos, Hurricanes
  • 🏈 NFL: Mike Brown, Bengals
  • 🏟 Multi-league: James Dolan, Knicks/Rangers

The Biden donors: 15 owners have given to the Biden campaign or Biden super PACs, though at smaller totals, with overall contributions roughly half that of the Trump donors listed above.

  • ⚾️ MLB: Laura Ricketts, Cubs; Tom Werner, Red Sox; Billie Jean King, Dodgers; Ilana Kloss, Dodgers; Jim Pohlad, Twins
  • 🏈 NFL: Arthur Blank, Falcons; Arthur J. Rooney II, Steelers; Mary Kelly, Broncos; Zygi Wilf, Vikings
  • πŸ€ NBA: Marc Lasry, Bucks; James Dinan, Bucks;
  • πŸ’ NHL: David Bonderman, Kraken; Herbert Fritch, Predators
  • 🏟 Multi-league: David Blitzer, 76ers/Devils; Peter Gruber, Warriors/Dodgers

The big donors: Of the 11 owners who have contributed over $1 million since 2015, nine directed that money to Republican causes or candidates.

  • πŸ”΄ Republican: Charles Johnson, SF Giants ($11M); Dan DeVos, Magic ($2.3M); Philip Anschutz, L.A. Kings ($1.8M); Jimmy/Susan Haslam, Browns ($1.6M); Dan Gilbert, Cavaliers ($1.5M); James Dolan, Knicks/Rangers ($1.5M); Ken Kendrick, Diamondbacks ($1.4M); Janice McNair, Texans ($1.4M); Robert Castellini, Reds ($1.2M)
  • πŸ”΅ Democratic: Peter Angelos, Orioles ($2.1M); Laura Ricketts, Cubs ($1.7M)

Between the lines: So long as money drives American politics, wealthy sports owners will be in close proximity. But their motivations can be different.

  • "Some ... are hobbyists who like the action, while others like having their proverbial name on the wall of a longstanding American institution like a major political party," ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz writes.
  • "Some enjoy the ego gratification that comes with exclusive company, while others are just returning a favor for a friend who gave to their philanthropic project."

Go deeper

ESPN cuts workforce by 10% due to pandemic

ESPN's first-ever program, Sportscenter. Photo: Christopher Capozziello/Zuffa LLC via Getty

Approximately 300 people are being laid off at ESPN, sources tell Axios, and the company also plans to leave about 200 vacant positions unfilled, meaning the total workforce will be reduced by about 10%.

Between the lines: The cuts are attributed to the financial strain on the live sports and sports media industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an internal note from ESPN president James Pitaro to employees.

Updated 52 mins ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Biden's two-step negotiating process

President Biden departs Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Pool/AFP via Getty

President Biden's summit "reset" was less about trying to make a friend out of Russia than reframing what the U.S. believes can be accomplished by engaging with President Vladimir Putin.

Driving the news: The Geneva meeting yielded no immediate breakthroughs beyond agreements about ambassadors returning to work and plans to launch talks on nuclear security. But in classic Biden fashion β€” aviators on, jacket off and a one-liner about invading Russia he had to clarify was a joke β€” the U.S. president used a post-summit news conference to explain his approach.