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Washington Spirit add literally dozens of new owners

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Gold medalist Dominique Dawes, former White House residents, and many, many more have bought into the Spirit

Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

The Washington Spirit have announced a major influx of new members of their ownership group, with no fewer than 43 people joining existing owners Steve Baldwin, Y. Michele Kang, and Bill Lynch as stakeholders in the NWSL team. Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes, USWNT legend (and former Spirit assistant coach) Briana Scurry, Chelsea Clinton, and Jenna Bush Hager are among the many names on the list.

Yesterday, the Washington Post and The Athletic both reported the involvement of that quartet, while today’s release added nearly 40 more people to the group. No details were given on how substantial each incoming owner’s share is, with Baldwin telling the Post that the new investors were buying in for a range of percentages.

“It is fitting that the Washington Spirit have an investor group commensurate with the dynamism and diversity of DC and its place as the most powerful city in the world,” said Baldwin, who retains his title as the team’s Managing Partner, in a press release. “Our club has big ambitions globally. With an eye to expanding the Spirit fan base, building on the team’s current footballing success, and capitalizing on the entrepreneurial intersection of technology and sports entertainment, Michele, Bill, and I are thrilled that global sports, media, and business executives have also joined our group.”

“It’s hard to even articulate the impact Steve and Michele are having on this club,” added Lynch, who founded the club before the start of the NWSL in 2013. “In a short period of time they have pulled together an investor group that is second to none and generated significant interest from many more.”

In the release, Baldwin paid tribute to Kang, who was announced as a member of the ownership group back in December. “In the past year Michele Kang joined Bill Lynch and me in ownership and her leadership and engagement have been instrumental in the transformation of the Spirit. Her impact in our work, and bringing this new group together, has been magnificent and I thank her for all she does.”

The Spirit release names Devin Talbott, a DC-area entrepreneur who helped found local private investment firm Enlightenment Capital, as the lead investor among the new owners coming aboard. “Our investor group reflects DC’s political roots, sports legacy, international reach, and thriving business and technology community. We share a common vision and committed purpose to elevate women’s soccer, both for Washington Spirit players and the young girls pursuing their passions on the pitch and beyond,” said Talbott in the team’s release.

The complete list of investors includes a wide range of corporate and Washington power brokers. From the soccer world, Assia Grazioli-Venier is on the board of directors with Serie A powerhouse Juventus, while the investors from the larger sports world include former Turner Sports COO Matt Hong and Estee Portnoy (who is also Michael Jordan’s business director). Names from the political side, to go with Clinton and Bush, include ABC journalist Claire Shipman, her husband (and former White House press secretary) Jay Carney, and former US senator Tom Daschle, who the Spirit have built a relationship with over the last few years.

The sheer size of the ownership group is one of the major developments, and provides a stark contrast to where things were around the NWSL as recently as 2017 or 2018. However, since then, the 2019 Women’s World Cup served as a major spark of interest from potential investors, with a similarly large set of owners banding together to start Angel City FC, who will join the league next season. More recently, tennis star Naomi Osaka joined the North Carolina Courage’s ownership group, while rumors around the league point to additional ownership changes at other independent teams.

The full list of new owners, which is to reiterate a group of 43 people, is as follows:

  • Craig Abod
  • Veronica Atkins
  • Chelsea Clinton
  • Tom and Linda Daschle
  • Dominique Dawes
  • Joe Duckett
  • Tracy Fitzsimmons and Knox Singleton
  • Assia Grazioli-Vernier
  • Jenna Bush Hager
  • Matt and Soogi Hong
  • Phil and Cathy Horvitz
  • Razmig Hovaghimian
  • Mark and Kimberly Johnson
  • Justin and Cindy Kuzemka
  • Kyle and Amanda Lierman
  • Terry Lin
  • Jimmy Lynn
  • Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
  • Mary Mochary
  • Dr. Kurt Newman
  • Suzanne Niedland
  • Brian Nightingale
  • Estee Portnoy
  • Scott Reynolds
  • Shannon and Johnathan Robertson
  • Danielle and George Scott
  • Brianna Scurry and Chryssa Zizos
  • David Schiff
  • Claire Shipman and Jay Carney
  • Devin Talbott
  • Mark Wishner