Jerry Jones is doing what he’s always done: trying to profit. He’s very good at it. He’s a billionaire for many reasons: business acumen, luck, courage, and the willingness to do things like raise the price of natural gas at a time when the people of Texas need it most.
As Texans continue to go days without power and heat, shale driller Comstock Resources Inc., a publicly traded company of which Jones is the majority shareholder, has: according to NPRhas been selling gasoline at “super premium prices.” It was “like hitting the jackpot,” Roland Burns, Comstock president and chief financial officer, said in an earnings conference call Wednesday.
This is a business for Jones, as defensible for him as (I’m being hypothetical here, of course) another billionaire who claims that not paying taxes “makes me smart.” Jones doesn’t need the money, but the need has nothing to do with it. Earning more money for yourself is one way to keep track. (Winning Super Bowls is the other, although he hasn’t done it in nearly three decades.)
OK so. Let’s keep score.
The citizens of Arlington contributed $ 325 million to fund Jones’ game house, AT&T Stadium. Jones pays the city a measly $ 2.5 million per year to operate the stadium. This deal is supposed to be an economic generator for Arlington, and perhaps it has been. But an implicit reason for deals like these is that a team doesn’t just belong to the franchise owner. A team is of the citizenship that encourages it. Correct.
Now you can see how Jones treats Texans in their time of need. We can call this a betrayal, but it’s really just an extension of the relationship between Jones and the Texans. It is impossible to organize a fair transaction when one party does it for love and the other for money. Years ago, when Jones wanted a stadium deal, he recruited Roger Staubach into the public endeavor – a clever way to make voting seem like an act of fan loyalty without explicitly calling him that.
Jones knew what he was doing then and surely knows what he is doing now. If all the clothing suddenly disappeared from the state, Jones would start selling Cowboys sweatshirts for $ 1,000 each.
Remember this story the next time your favorite team requests a new stadium or your favorite player is accused of being greedy because he wants to try free agency, or even the next time you shell out cash for merchandise.
The Dallas Cowboys are America’s team in NFL Films narration, and Jones has cleverly managed to monetize that image without using the actual nickname. He bought the Cowboys not just because he wanted an NFL team, but because he wanted is The NFL team, the one with possibly the largest fan base in American sports. He knew the Cowboys meant something to people. He loves that. He’s a master at making money out of it.
Jones won Three Super Bowls early in his tenure with the Cowboys and has been desperately trying to win a fourth ever since. In that way, his wishes seem aligned with those of his fanbase, but still: He’s doing this for him, not for them. He paid for most of the stadium expenses, but that wasn’t because he wanted to boost Arlington’s economy. I wanted the most elegant stadium in the world. In the 11 years since its opening, the value of the Cowboys franchise has gone from $ 1.6 billion to $ 5.7 billion, according to Forbes.
That would be enough for most of us. However, Comstock Resources is selling gasoline at prices ranging from $ 15 per thousand cubic feet to $ 179 per thousand cubic feet, a profit margin of between 600% and 7,500% over pre-crisis levels. You probably haven’t even had the idea that people may desperately need gas and can’t afford it. The market worship church has a limited definition of sin.
Jones should be ashamed, but billionaires are not ashamed of what they consider to be good deals. They are embarrassed when many people call them, or when the public embarrassment is so great that good business turns bad. Cowboys fans can show Jones how angry they are reducing their financial support for the team. Logic says they should. History says they won’t. Jones is betting that he can make money by raising prices to the very people he claims to represent. In that sense, he’s a fitting owner of America’s Team.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.