Of the countless depressing aspects of being a sports fan, there is little to rival the squalid spectacle of watching a fat cat owner cozy up to a fat cat politician in the luxury box. Last year, USA Today published a comprehensive survey of the political donations made by the lords of big sport--in other words, the owners of NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and NASCAR teams. Drawing on public records, the paper found that these 153 masters of the universe and spouses pumped about $14.6 million into the 2004 federal elections.
Given the tax bracket occupied by said folk, it's no great surprise where most of that money went. Approximately 83 percent, according to USA Today, found its way into the coffers of Republican candidates or causes.
Zygmunt Wilf, the New Jersey shopping-mall magnate and new owner of the Minnesota Vikings, appears to be something of an exception to this trend. Since '98, according to the website opensecrets.org, Wilf has made approximately $35,000 in political donations, mainly to center and left-center Democrats. In the 2002 cycle, Wilf gave to just three candidates. Among the donations: $2,000 to the late Paul Wellstone.
By contrast, former Vikings owner Red McCombs has been both much more prolific and more conservative in his giving habits. Since 1998, McCombs donated about $267,000, almost exclusively to GOP candidates and PACs.