Ted Leonsis

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Theodore J. Leonsis
Ted Leonsis Head Shot 100113.jpg
Leonsis in 2013
BornTheodore John Leonsis
(1957-01-08) January 8, 1957 (age 57)
Brooklyn, New York
ResidencePotomac, Maryland[1]
Alma materGeorgetown University
OccupationOwner, Chairman
OrganizationWashington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Verizon Center, SnagFilms, Revolution Money, Groupon
Net worth$1 billion[2]
ReligionGreek Orthodox[3]
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Theodore J. Leonsis
Ted Leonsis Head Shot 100113.jpg
Leonsis in 2013
BornTheodore John Leonsis
(1957-01-08) January 8, 1957 (age 57)
Brooklyn, New York
ResidencePotomac, Maryland[1]
Alma materGeorgetown University
OccupationOwner, Chairman
OrganizationWashington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Verizon Center, SnagFilms, Revolution Money, Groupon
Net worth$1 billion[2]
ReligionGreek Orthodox[3]

Theodore John Leonsis (born January 8, 1957) is an American sports team owner, venture capital investor, filmmaker, author, and philanthropist. He is a former senior executive with America Online (AOL). As the founder, chairman, and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, he is the majority owner of the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards, the Women's National Basketball Association's Washington Mystics and the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. He is a founding member and investor in the Revolution Growth Fund,[4] which includes investments in FedBid, Resonate Networks, Optoro and CustomInk.[5][6] He is the founder and chairman of SnagFilms, which produced the documentary film Nanking. The film was honored with the 2009 News & Documentary Emmy Award. In 2010, he wrote the book, The Business of Happiness.

Personal background[edit]

Theodore John Leonsis was born on January 8, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of Greek American parents,[7] who worked as a waiter and a secretary.[8] He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, before moving to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Lowell High School in 1973.[9] In 2005, he was honored as one of Lowell High School's Distinguished Alumni for reaching the highest level of accomplishment and possessing the highest standards of integrity and character.[citation needed] After graduating from Georgetown University in 1977,[10] he moved back to his parents' home in Lowell and began working for Wang Laboratories.[9]

In early 2011, Leonsis purchased a 13-acre estate in Potomac, Maryland. He acquired the property for $20 million after selling homes in McLean, Virginia and Vero Beach, Florida.[1] The 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) estate was once the home of Joseph P. Kennedy,[11] summer home of Franklin Roosevelt,[12] and was owned by the Gore family from 1942 to 1995.[13] Leonsis purchased the home from Chris Rogers, a telecommunications executive[14] who acquired Leonsis' home in McLean.

Professional background[edit]

Leonsis speaking to the Tech Council of Maryland


In 1987, Leonsis established the marketing communications company, Redgate Communications Corporations.[15] When the organization was acquired by America Online (AOL) in 1994, Leonsis began working with AOL as a senior executive, remaining with the company for 13 years.[16] Under his leadership, AOL increased its membership from under 800,000 members to over 8 million, while their annual revenue increased from $100 million to $1.5 billion.[17] He held numerous positions at AOL during his years there, completing his tenure and retiring in 2006 as the audience group's president and vice-chairman.[18] As of 2014, he serves as vice chairman emeritus of AOL.[citation needed]

Monumental Sports & Entertainment[edit]

Leonsis is the founder, majority owner, chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA's Washington Wizards, NHL's Washington Capitals and the WNBA's Washington Mystics. Monumental Sports additionally owns the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.[19] and manages the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and George Mason University's Patriot Center.[20]


Leonsis has a "hands on" approach to management of his sports teams.[21] After purchasing the Wizards, Leonsis criticized the NBA's salary cap at a luncheon with business leaders. He was fined $100,000 by the league, for "unauthorized public comments regarding the league's collective bargaining negotiations."[22] Leonsis has sought to roll-back changes to the Wizards and Capitals franchises that coincided with the opening of the Verizon Center in 1997. In 2007, he changed the Capitals team logo and its colors back to red, white, and blue and has done the same with the Wizards. In May 2011, the team unveiled new Wizards uniforms and logos, receiving positive responses from media, fans, players and alumni.[23] Additionally, he had taken under consideration returning their name to the Bullets,[24] though critics said that this would "send the wrong message" about gun violence in Washington.[25]

Washington Capitals

In the early years of his ownership, the Capitals went on to win back-to-back Southeast Division titles in 2000 and 2001, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In summer 2001, the Capitals traded for Jaromír Jágr and signed him to what was at the time, the largest contract in NHL history. After Jágr was traded in 2004, Leonsis was criticized by fans.[26] He was involved in a physical altercation with a fan, who led a mocking chant of Leonsis during the game and hoisted a sign chiding him. In the altercation, Leonsis grabbed and threw the fan to the ground, which also caused a young child to fall to the ground. For his involvement in the scuffle, Leonsis was fined $100,000. He also received a suspension of one week, during which he was prohibited from having any contact with the team.[27]

Leonsis watches Wizards player John Wall in 2010

In 2010, journalist Damien Cox, author of the Ovechkin Project, a biography of Alexander Ovechkin, wrote that Leonsis was trying to circumvent the NHL's salary cap when signing Ovechkin's contract.[28] He also alleged that Leonsis was bribing bloggers for positive coverage of the Capitals.[29] Leonsis said that Cox was angry that he did not receive the access to Ovechkin that he wanted and defended his support for the league.[30]

During the 2009–2010 season, the Capitals earned the NHL's President's Trophy as the team that finished with the most points in the league during the regular season.[31]

The 2010–2011 season marked the highest attendance in franchise history, drawing 754,309 fans.[32] The Capitals, like other teams, have raised ticket prices in recent years.[33][34] In 2011, after raising ticket prices for the fourth consecutive year while shrinking the size of beers sold at the Verizon Center, he earned the nickname "Leon$i$".[35] In 2001, Leonsis claimed to have written a computer program that prevented Pittsburgh Penguins fans (the Capitals first-round opponent) from purchasing tickets online. When asked if the actions were unfair, Leonsis stated, "I don't care. I'm going to keep doing it."[36] Again in 2009, he received criticism for preventing visiting team fans from purchasing Capitals playoff tickets.[37]

In the face of community opposition, Leonsis has persisted with a plan to expand the billboards around the Verizon Center.[38] Critics said the signage would make the arena more garish and cheapen DC's Chinatown, Leonsis said it was necessary to raise an additional $20 to 30 million in annual revenue, and a sports expert explained that "an owner saddled with underperforming teams is under greater pressure to find income sources."[39][40][41] Leonsis persevered and in March 2013 construction of the new signs were announced. [42]


Leonsis is the founder and chairman of SnagFilms, which produces documentary films. His first production was the documentary Nanking, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.[43] The film is based on the book The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. It was honored with the 2008 Peabody Award and the 2009 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Historical Programming (Long Form).[44]

In 2008, Leonsis produced Kicking It, which is a documentary by Susan Koch about the 2006 Homeless World Cup. The film was narrated by actor Colin Farrell and featured residents of Afghanistan; Kenya; Dublin, Ireland; Charlotte, North Carolina; Madrid; and Saint Petersburg. The film premiered in January 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival.[citation needed]

A third documentary, A Fighting Chance, tells the story of Kyle Maynard, who became a nationally ranked wrestler, motivational speaker, and bestselling author, despite being born without arms or legs.[45]

In 2013, Leonsis produced the documentary Lost for Life, which explores juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to life without parole.[citation needed]


Leonsis is the founder of the Leonsis Foundation, which supports children "overcome obstacles and achieve their goals".[46] He is also a mentor through the Hoop Dreams program,[47] while additionally contributing to the See Forever Foundation and YouthAIDS.[48]

Board membership[edit]

Honors and awards[edit]

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Surreal Estate: Ted Leonsis buys lavish Potomac estate". Washingtonpost.com. 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  2. ^ Shapiro, Margaret (March 2, 2010). "Ted Leonsis of Washington Capitals suggests making goals to ensure a happy life". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2011. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
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  5. ^ http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-15/business/40588251_1_entrepreneurs-big-investment-retailers
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  7. ^ http://upstart.bizjournals.com/money/loot/2012/02/22/revolution-growth-leads-investment-in-resonate-ad-tech-firm.html?page=all
  8. ^ "What You Can Learn from Ted Leonsis' Life List - Executive Coach - Management - GovExec.com". Blogs.govexec.com. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  9. ^ a b "Ted Leonsis Oral History" (PDF). Computer World Honors Program. November 8, 2001. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  10. ^ http://ted.aol.com/index.php?ID=179
  11. ^ "Marwood Estate Gets New Owner in Luxury “House Swap” | REsource". Mrisblog.com. 2011-01-09. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  12. ^ Kevin Baumer Jan. 8, 2011, 12:14 PM 108,962 7 (2011-01-08). "HOUSE OF THE DAY: Sports Mogul Ted Leonsis Buys A $8 Million Historic Mansion". Business Insider. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  13. ^ "Washington Life Magazine: February 2006: Real Estate News". Washingtonlife.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  14. ^ "Real Estate News About Don Imus, Ted Leonsis and Barbara Picower | Private Properties - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  15. ^ http://netpreneur.org/events/gorilla/bios.html
  16. ^ Swisher, Kara (1998). aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads, and Made Millions in the War for the Web, Crown Business, 333 pages. ISBN 978-0812928969
  17. ^ Zillgitt, Jeff (January 19, 2000). "Dot-coms click into world of pro sports". USA Today. 
  18. ^ "Leonsis Pulls Away From Helm of AOL". The Washington Post. September 15, 2006. 
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  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ "Wizards Unveil New Uniforms". The Washington Post. May 10, 2011. 
  24. ^ Lee, Michael. "Wizards Insider - Ted Leonsis says name change to Bullets is 'under consideration'". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  25. ^ "From the Wizards back to the Bullets? A bad call". Washingtonpost.com. 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  26. ^ "NHL to examine incident". Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  27. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A50620-2004Jan26&notFound=true
  28. ^ Monday, January 20, 2014 1:49 AM EST Facebook Twitter RSS (2010-09-03). "Cox: Outlaw owners get their way in Kovalchuk deal | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  29. ^ "Damian Cox Continues To Stir The Pot With Ted Leonsis - SB Nation DC". Dc.sbnation.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  30. ^ Steinberg, Dan. "D.C. Sports Bog - The Ovechkin Project, Gare Joyce and Ted Leonsis". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
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  34. ^ McKenna, Dave (2010-02-19). "Cheap Seats Daily: Who Says Ted Leonsis = Dan Snyder? - City Desk". Washingtoncitypaper.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  35. ^ "Leonsis, Ted Is Washington turning on its good-guy megamogul?". Washington City Paper. 2001. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Leonsis Prevents Penguins Fans From Buying Tix For DC Games". Sports Business Daily. April 17, 2001. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  37. ^ Molinari, Dave (May 2, 2009). "Penguins Notebook: Getting tickets tough call now". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  38. ^ "Leonsis: Billboards could help Wizards, Caps". Washington Examiner. June 20, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Blasted By Opposition to Lighted Signs on Verizon Center, Ted Leonsis Asks For More Time". Washington City Paper. January 19, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Verizon Center facade to get new digital, billboard-size signs after city’s approval". Washington Post. March 6, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Leonsis' plan to light up arena would cheapen Chinatown". Washington Examiner. January 12, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Verizon Center facade to get new digital, billboard-size signs after city’s approval". Washington Post. March 6, 2014. 
  43. ^ [3][dead link]
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  45. ^ "A Fighting Chance". Fightingchancemovie.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  46. ^ "Leonsis Foundation". Leonsis Foundation. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  47. ^ "A Push in The Right Direction". Washingtonpost.com. 2005-05-20. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  48. ^ "A Night Out: YouthAIDS Gala | Scene". Washingtonian. 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  49. ^ "About SnagFilms". Snagfilms.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
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