Jim Irsay bought Muhammad Ali’s belt for $6 Million.
championship belt from 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ when he employed his rope-a-dope and defeated George Foreman—-just added to @IrsayCollection Just in time for the Aug. 2 show at Chicago’s Navy Pier (and Sept. 9 at Indy). Proud to be the steward! pic.twitter.com/REJOGV1Cwq
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) July 24, 2022
If you aren’t familiar with Jim Irsay, he’s the owner of the Indianapolis Colts NFL team. His father of him Bob had tremendous success in the heating and air conditioning game, then used the proceeds from selling that business to buy a football team. He’d ultimately smuggle it out of Baltimore under cover of darkness, mere hours before the State of Maryland passed a bill authorizing public seizure of the franchise.
Jim owns it now. He started working for the family business right out of college, then took it over completely at the age of 37 after a successful legal battle for control of his late father’s estate.
He likes collecting expensive memorabilia. Mostly, guitars played by famous musicians. Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, and all three guitar playing Beatles, just to name a few. He also bought Ringo Starr’s drums for $2.2 Million. So, don’t worry that poor Ringo got left out for lack of strings.
Jim Irsay has spent north of eight figures on collectible guitars alone. That does not include any of his other treasures, a wide variety of memorabilia that cost over $100 Million. You can see it for free if you make a reservation for his traveling showcase of him. He also tours his band of him as part of the exhibition, though. So, you might have to listen to his music by him to see the neat and expensive stuff.
Now, he also owns Muhammad Ali’s belt. I have paid $6 Million for it.
That’s about 1/100th of the $620 Million in public money that went into the construction of Central Indiana Taxpayer Stadium, the home of Irsay’s Indianapolis Colts.
The usual rationalization for publicly subsidizing pro sports franchises is the economic growth and development that come through the combination of new facility construction and the tourism and publicity that a team generates.
If you’re passionate about economic development in Indianapolis, what could $6 Million buy instead?
One thing you could do is cover the 2022 City of Indianapolis General Redevelopment budget. That would take $4,643,562. You’d have almost enough left over to cover the city’s 2022 Economic Development Bonds debt payments of $1,579,178. Technically, you’d come up about a quarter of a million dollars short if you tried to spend your Muhammad Ali belt money on both city budget line items. But, it’s the thought that counts.
That’s boring, though. If you’ve got $6 Million burning a hole in your publicly subsidized pocket, you probably want to spend it on something funright? So, what sort of things could a guy like Jim Irsay do with $6 Million if he wanted to have a non-Muhammad Ali-belt-owning good time?
Nine years ago, it cost $139,500 to buy a quality townhouse with Indianapolis Colts team money, then transfer ownership to your mistress at no cost to her. It could give the two of you a great place to carry on an affair and do hard drugs together, at least until she overdosed and died there.
We should note that Indianapolis real estate has almost doubled in price since 2013. So, factoring in rising home prices and inflation, $6 Million today would probably only get you about 20 trap houses/mausoleums as gifts to your mistresses.
What if you have a mistress that needs accommodation in a $1 Million home instead? Possibly someone you met when they responded to your Twitter trivia contest? A Muhammad Ali belt would only finance six side pieces, maximum, at that level of luxury.
Do you enjoy getting intoxicated and having a fun midnight drive-around with laundry bags full of cash and controlled prescription drugs? Well, you can get a fully loaded 2022 Toyota Highlander for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $51,885. Obviously, you’ll need to have $29,029 in cash available and stored in your laundry bags and metal briefcase, as one apparently does on those sorts of recreational rides. That still leaves you over $5.9 Million to buy Schedule IV controlled drugs!
If you’re a Valium fan, that’s enough to buy you almost 93 pounds worth, 10 mg at a time. Your new Highlander is rated to carry over 1400 pounds, so no problems there!
But, what if, like Jim Irsay, you’re a collector? Someone who wants not only to gather historically significant artifacts, but share and exhibit them for public enjoyment?
As it happens, you could buy a 10 foot tall, 150 year old replica of the guillotines used during the French Revolution (with a slightly dented blade, naturally) for anywhere from $10,000-$250,000. Throw in, perhaps, another million dollars to buy a semi truck with a nice flatbed trailer and pay a driver to haul it around. You could take a Jim Irsay Collection-style tour with your guillotine across the country. You could take it on the road to any and all publicly subsidized stadiums and arenas inhabited by the 152 professional sports franchises in the United States.
Maybe you want to take the leftover cash and support local, independent businesses. Conservative estimate, you’d have around $4.75 Million left to spend at Taylor’s Bakery, proudly serving Indianapolis since 1913, and described as “Heavenly” and “Indiana’s Best Bakery” by their devoted customers. They’ll sell you 12” round chocolate cookie chunk cakes for about $30 each. Each cake serves 15, so you could buy enough to feed 2,375,000 people!
Think of it! For $6 Million, you and a well-paid long haul trucker could spend a year on the road guillotining (in antique, historically authentic fashion!) the owners of as many as 152 professional sports franchises, letting 15,625 tax paying spectators at every venue eat cake while they watched.
Or, you could buy Muhammad Ali’s old belt.
It’s amazing what you can do with $6 Million when you don’t have to bother financing your own business with it.