The World’s Most Profitable Team Hasn’t Won a Championship Since the 1990s

It appears you don't have to win in order to earn

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the field reacting to fans.
Jerry Jones doesn't need the Cowboys to win to fill his bank account.
J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty

Purchased by Jerry Jones in 1989 for a then-record $150 million, the Dallas Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in four years with the franchise’s final title coming following the 1995 NFL season. Since then, “America’s Team” has missed the playoffs more often than not and never advanced beyond the second round of the NFL postseason. Has that hurt Jones’s bottom line in the slightest? Nope.

The only sports team on the planet worth $8 billion, the Dallas Cowboys raked in $1.17 billion in operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) over the past three years, according to Forbes. That’s an incredible amount of revenue considering one of those years was 2020 when fans were not allowed in the stands for the majority of home games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The gap between the Cowboys and the next team on the list, the New England Patriots, is quite large. Per Forbes, the Patriots made $623 million over the past three years despite playing that duration of time without longtime quarterback Tom Brady. The absence of Brady has really hurt New England on the field as the Patriots have qualified for the postseason just once since the seven-time Super Bowl winner’s departure, but it hasn’t hurt team owner Robert Kraft’s wallet.

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The same can be said for the next two American teams on the list as the New York Knicks ($404 million) and the Houston Texans ($356 million) have been fairly terrible over the past three seasons but have nonetheless been incredibly profitable.

Interestingly, there are five European soccer teams (Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Bayern Munich) among the top 25 most profitable sports franchises in the world, but no professional baseball or hockey teams. That’s especially surprising because the New York Yankees are ranked as the fourth-most valuable sports franchise in the world.

“No NHL or MLB teams made the list in part because their live gate suffered during the pandemic, which crushed profits, and because their broadcasting deals are not as rich as those of the NFL or the NBA,” Forbes explains. “In addition, MLB has a competitive balance tax to discourage excessive payrolls rather than a ‘cap.’”

As for the Cowboys, it’s likely they’ll continue making money hand over fist whether they win football games or not. Jones, who bought the team when the Cowboys were losing $1 million per month, believes he could get $10 billion for the team if he decided to sell. But he won’t. “Let me make this very clear,” Jones told NBC. “I’ll say it definitively. I will never do it. I will never sell the Cowboys. Ever.”

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