The governor’s race in Florida took a turn this week when Donald Trump clicked send on a tweet in support of far-right politician Ron DeSantis.
Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2017
As is increasingly becoming the case, the tweet from the U.S. president led to some form of political action. In this case, it mobilized a base of wealthy political donors supporting his movement. A POLITICO report details that since the tweet a number of billionaires laid the foundation for DeSantis’ potential gubernatorial run by building leadership committees to finance the whole thing. DeSantis has yet to formally announce his candidacy for governorship, but with backing from these “kingmaker” donors, it seems to be a foregone conclusion.
The Sport Lobby is digging through the list of donors building DeSantis’ team, but a standout among them is the son of former Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers and Liverpool F.C. owner Tommy Hicks Jr.
Hicks Jr.’s father, Tom Hicks Sr. isn’t officially listed on the POLITICO obtained document, but as was the case during the 2016 presidential campaign, Hicks Jr. relied on his billionaire father’s donations to help Trump turn the election in his favor. He will most likely do the same for DeSantis.
Hicks Sr. is a billionaire private equity investor and former sports team owner living in Dallas. The sports wing of his company, Hick Sports Group, LLC made headlines in sports sections in 1995 when he bought the NHL’s Dallas Stars. According to Bloomberg, the company has since gone out of business.
Dallas area sports fans might remember him as the owner that broke the bank to sign Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers in 2000, and by doing so, hurt the team’s ability to sign any other players of note to help catapult a good team to a great team. He eventually traded Rodriguez to the Yankees, and in 2010, after Hicks Sports Group went bankrupt, he sold the team to group led by Nolan Ryan. In a 2013 interview he revealed that signing A-Rod to that historic $252 million contract was one of his biggest regrets.
“I’ve done some smart things,” Hicks told Dallas-CBS affiliate KTVT-TV Channel 11 when asked about Rodriguez. “I’ve done some dumb things. That was one of the dumb things.”
Hicks’ most successful sports venture was with the Dallas Stars. Under his ownership, the Stars won seven division titles, two Western Conference crowns, two Presidents’ Trophies,, two consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals and the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship. However, his’ company defaulted on $525 million in bank loans backed by the Stars in 2010, the same year HSG filed for bankruptcy.
While co-owner of the English Premier League’s Liverpool F.C., Hicks and his ownership group faced considerable public scrutiny. He became unpopular among the club’s fans for his failure to deliver on the promise of a new stadium. During his period of ownership, Liverpool became associated with frequent boardroom brawls and he engaged in public battles with the team manager. Hicks Jr., had to resign from the Liverpool board of directors after sending an e-mail to a Liverpool fan saying, “Blow me fuck face. Go to hell. I’m sick of you.”
Sometimes really rich men like to dabble in enterprises they aren’t suited to participate in directly. This seems to be the case with the Hicks. While they’re out of the sports world, he’s still got his hat and money in the political game of democracy. However, if his sports track record is any indicator of how DeSantis’ campaign could turn out, it’s best to assume a contentious ending.