The last time the National Football League’s Chargers had a winning record was in 2014, before they moved from San Diego up the coast to Los Angeles.
Chargers’ owner Alex Spanos, now 94, imparted father wisdom onto his son Dean, who is now at the helm, as follows: be the first on the job site and the last to leave. That type of work ethic propelled Dean to make the bold move last year to bring the team from its 56-year stint in San Diego to the tougher and larger sports market of LA.
Holding strong at $3.2 billion, the Spanos family remains near the top of our list.
Also founder of the real estate development company A.G. Spanos, Alex Spanos is the son of Greek immigrants. He began his career as a baker, but in 1951 used an $800 loan to purchase a panel truck and began selling sandwiches to farm workers. He then used his profits to invest in real estate, and by 1960, he had an incorporated business. Today, his firm A.G. Spanos is one of America’s largest housing developers, and is one of the largest family-owned construction and property management companies in the nation. It has built more than 120,000 units in 19 states. Spanos handed control of the company to his sons in 2003: Dean serves as Chairman and CEO and Michael serves as President.
Spanos was inducted into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame in 2005. He bought 60 percent of the Chargers from then-majority owner Eugene Klein in 1984. Over the next ten years, he bought out the shares of several small co-owners, bringing his control of the team to 97 percent.
In July 1995, Spanos began supporting an annual high school all-star football game in San Diego County. Since then, the Alex Spanos All-Star Classic has grown to the preeminent all-star football game in California, gathering the best seniors in the county for a final game before continuing their careers on the collegiate field. Many alumni from the Spanos Classic have gone on to play in the National Football League.
Spanos, one of the largest single private contributors to the Republican Party during Presidential election years, helped raise over $2 million for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 Presidential bid. President Bush appointed Spanos to the Kennedy Center board in 2004.
Spanos has also contributed millions to schools, hospitals and charity. He received the Medal of the Commander of the Order of Honor from Greek President Karolos Papoulias in 2008.
In 2002, Spanos published his autobiography, Sharing the Wealth: My Story. He was inducted into the Order of St. Andrew/Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1972, and was awarded the Order’s Athenagoras Human Rights Award in 2004. One of the founding members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’ Leadership 100, he has served as chairman of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism and as president of the Archdiocesan Council.
He and his wife, Faye, have four children, 15 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. His son Dean, and Dean’s sons John and A.G., are featured in a full interview in this Special Edition.