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.
– 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)
Barbara Slater, England
BBC Director of Sport
Slater has carved out a proud career in sport, both in front of and behind the camera. The 59-year-old became the BBC’s first female Director of Sport in April 2009, landing one of the most-influential jobs in British television. More than three decades prior, the high flyer – in a literal sense – had carried the United Kingdom’s flag at the 1976 Olympics, where she competed in the gymnastics section. A move into television production followed and she steadily worked her way up the corporation’s hierarchy as a producer, senior producer, and executive producer. Slater has gone on to organise coverage for the 2012 London Games, plus manage BBC Sport’s relocation from the capital to Salford. Winning back broadcast rights for the FA Cup was a recent success, but cuts – across the BBC – of £800 million make managing the sports portfolio an increasingly fraught task.
– Slater is responsible for 20,000 hours of BBC sports programming.
– A third of women now make up BBC Sport’s workforce, according to Slater.
– Slater was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to sports broadcasting.
Did you know…
Slater’s father, Bill, was named Footballer of the Year in 1960, played for England and is the scorer of Blackpool’s fastest-ever goal (11 seconds, versus Stoke in 1949).
“I’ve been in the industry a long time. It is transformed. If you said when I first joined as an assistant producer that there would have ever have been a woman in my position I would have laughed at you.” – Barbara Slater (Source: The Guardian)
Kim Miale, USA
NFL Agent and General Counsel
When you think NFL agents, you think Moneyball. Men in suits shouting ‘show me the money’. Kim Miale is positive proof of someone who fought for her dream and broken every stereotype in her industry. Miale had been working as an agent, but in 2013 the Suffolk Law School graduate joined Roc Nation, an entertainments agency established by Jay-Z – where she now represents some of the biggest names in American football. The 38-year-old has something of a specialism in representing running backs – with 2019 standout Todd Gurley also on her books.
– Miale has represented or co-represented a top-10 draft pick in each of the last four drafts.
– On some negativity in the early parts of her time with Roc Nation, Miale said: “It’s interesting because I was with a lot of the male agents I think that may have said a lot of things off the record or anonymously, but when I was there no one approached me.”
– In 2018 she was named in Sports Business Daily’s Forty Under 40 list of the best and brightest in the industry.
Did you know…
Miale made history at the 2018 NFL draft when Saquon Barkley was the number two pick – the highest picked athlete to have a female agent.
“I feel more confident with Kim Miale negotiating a deal that I am involved in than any attorney I’ve ever worked with, and that is a big statement.” – Former Carolina Panthers CEO Michael Yormack