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100 of the Most Influential Women in Sport: Gayle Benson

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Gayle Benson

100 of the Most Influential Women in Sport >> Boardroom & Administration

Gayle Benson, USA

Principal owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans

When it comes to professional sport in New Orleans, the Benson family name has become synonymous. Patriarch Tom became owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints in 1985 and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans in 2012, leading them both until his death in March 2018. Despite a multi-year dispute with his daughter and grandchildren over control of family assets, third wife Gayle was cleared upon his passing to become the first woman to be the majority shareholder of the voting stock in both an NFL and NBA franchise. Benson did not hide in the background during her first year in charge, making the rare pronouncement for an NFL owner to “aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies” after the infamous failure to issue an obvious pass interference penalty against Los Angeles Rams that helped set-up a painful overtime win in January’s NFC championship game. Saints had last reached that stage in 2009/10, showing the extent of her impact.

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– In the Forbes 400 ranking of the wealthiest Americans, Benson was placed 298th with a net worth of $2.9 billion.

– Gayle and Tom married in October 2004.

– The 72-year-old is one of four women listed as primary owners of NBA franchises and one of four who are controlling owners of NFL franchises. No other women has both.

Did you know…

She and Tom Benson had their first date at a VooDoo arena football game on Mother’s Day in 2004.

“As we embark on an exciting offseason, we will take these valuable memories with us as we continue to compete at the highest level on the field and provide our fans the best game day experience in the NFL off the field.” – Gayle Benson (Source: New Orleans Saints end-of-season letter)

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