Jerry Jones Bought Dallas Cowboys For $140 Million in 1989

Published on December 18th, 2022 2:50 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Jerry Jones, the owner of Dallas Cowboys. In 1989, at the age of 46, Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys for $140 million.

At the time, the Cowboys were a mess, and they were losing money.

The $140 million price tag seems like nothing in this day and age, but back in 1989, this was a princely sum to pay for a NFL franchise.

In fact, it was the biggest price that anybody had ever paid for a NFL franchise.

This was before the days of ultra-lucrative TV deals, eye-poppingly expensive corporate boxes and budget-busting ticket prices.

Now, the Dallas Cowboys are worth north of $7 billion.


Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 from his friend, H.R. "Bum" Bright.

Bright had suffered heavy losses (an estimated $30 million) from the collapse of First Republic Bank Corporation, and Jones was offering a very good price for the Cowboys.

Bright accepted.

Where did Jerry Jones get his money from?

It wasn't all easy going for Jones during the early days of his business career - for instance, he decided to invest in the Shakey's Pizza Parlor franchise to the tune of $1 million, and that company ended up going under.

Jones decided to follow his father into the insurance business, where he worked until the business was sold in 1970. Jones would walk away with a payout of $500,000 after the sale.

Jones would eventually get into the oil drilling business, and the move turned out to be a lucrative one, paving the way for Jones to acquire the capital needed to purchase the Cowboys.

Jones' company, Jones Oil and Land Lease, was extremely shrewd when it came to the plots of land that they acquired, as nearly all of their first 13 wells yielded oil.

In fact, the first well ended up yielding $4 million worth of oil.


Jones had always wanted a NFL franchise - in fact, he had mulled over the idea of buying the Chargers shortly after he graduated from college.

The Dallas Cowboys, however, were the perfect opportunity for Jones and he made sure that his offer wouldn't be topped.

Jones had ideas as to how a NFL franchise should be run. Young blood was brought in, and old names were sent out (Landry).

Within a few years of Jones taking over in Dallas, the Cowboys had a dynasty with the likes of Smith, Aikman and Irvin.

The Cowboys were soon the most valuable franchise in the NFL. TV rights values for the league soared, as did Jones' net worth.

The Cowboys continue to be the most valuable franchise in the NFL, thanks, in large part, to Jones' shrewd negotiating tactics.


The $140 million price tag for the Cowboys seemed like an overpay at the time, though it was obviously an amazingly shrewd investment.

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