NFL, MLB top list of biggest lobbyist-spenders in 2016

Prepare yourself for a treasure trove of wildly useless trivia information that nonetheless makes for some interesting bar stool fodder.

2016 was the live entertainment industry’s most active year of paying for access to politicians to date. At the federal level, the industry spent $9,033,042 on lobbying for its varied interests. It’s a conservative number when you consider the major players involved, but still, it’s the highest total on record.

Clients paying for lobbyists in this industry include the NFL, PGA Tour, NASCAR, MLB, NHL and many others. Open Secrets has the breakdown of total contributions in 2016 from highest to lowest, and like when we examined the candidates the NFL supported in 2016 earlier, there are a few highlights to note with the money spent.


Naturally, the NFL is at the top of the list, spending less than a thousandth of a percent of its annual revenue on lobbying last year. According to the Lobbying Disclosure forms, NFL lobbyists met with elected officials to discuss issues including, but not limited to, player health and safety, the tax-exempt status of professional sports associations, the Youth Sports Concussion Act.

Protesters gather in support of changing the Washington pro football team’s name.

Washington’s NFL team individually cracked the list as well, reporting to have spent $120,000 lobbying for issues that tie back to the team’s controversial name. Specifically, team owner Dan Snyder paid the McGuireWoods LLP firm to promote the owner’s highly questionable Original American’s Foundation, which he launched to show how sensitive he was to Native American issues. Moving right along.

Lobbyists representing the MLB Commissioner’s Office “met with congress to discuss Cuba issues, including [last year’s] exhibition game in Cuba between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team.”

The Retired Players of the NHL lobbied with the issue of concussion research in mind, the Basketball Hall of Fame pushed for something related to sports memorabilia coins, and NASCAR met about the status of some deteriorating racetracks.

A tremendous amount of lobbying money wasn’t spent by the industry last year, but the fact still remains that our elected officials met with representatives from some of the country’s most popular, hallowed sports entities.

That certainly isn’t a crime, but simply another reminder that “sticking to sports” isn’t even in the nature of sports itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *