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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
  • 🏀 NBA: Dan DeVos, Magic; Tilman Fertitta, Rockets
  • 🏒 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
  • 🏀 NBA: Marc Lasry, Bucks; James Dinan, Bucks;
  • 🏒 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.

  • 🔴 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)
  • 🔵 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.

4 mins ago - World

Israeli parliament opts for early elections in preliminary vote

Netanyahu (C) arrives in parliament today. Photo: Alex Kolomiensky/Pool/AFP via Getty

After six months of a dysfunctional power-sharing government, Israel is headed for its fourth elections in less than two years, most likely at the end of March.

Driving the news: The Knesset voted 61-54 today to approve the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the parliament and call new elections. Benny Gantz's Blue and White party supported the bill while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and the rest of the coalition voted against.

1 hour ago - Sports

The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Packed stadiums and a more normal fan experience could return by late 2021, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said yesterday.

Why it matters: If Fauci's prediction comes true, it could save countless programs from going extinct next year.