Who is John Middleton, the owner who opened his wallet for the Philadelphia Phillies to make a World Series ru – Philadelphia Business Journal


In pursuit of the franchise’s first World Series championship since 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies did something this season that the ownership group had resisted doing in the past: going over Major League Baseball’s $230 million salary cap.
By doing so, the Phillies will be subjected to the luxury tax imposed by the league on big spenders.
The all-in move also has the team playing in the 2022 World Series that begins Friday night.
The man most responsible for the Phillies’ decision to spend big on free agents such as Kyle Schwarber and Zack Wheeler is John S. Middleton, the team’s managing partner and principal owner.
Middleton was front and center to receive the National League Championship trophy when the Phillies beat the San Diego Padres to advance to the World Series against the Houston Astros.
So who is John Middleton, who seven seasons ago became the public face of the ownership group that until that point had largely shunned the spotlight?
He is the guy who in a 2021 interview said the team was going to spend money, “and maybe be a little stupid about it,” to break its decade-long playoff drought. He is also the guy known to leave the owner’s box and walk around Citizens Bank Park to talk to fans, take selfies with them, and even invite lucky ones to watch the game from his seats.
Here’s what else you might want to know about him:
Middleton, a 67-year-old graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Business School, sold his family’s tobacco business to Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, for $2.9 billion in 2007. The family business traced its roots back to a small tobacco shop his Philadelphia great-great-grandfather opened in 1856. The company began making cigarettes during the 1950s, then expanded into cigars with its Black and Mild brand in 1980. in 2003, John Middleton became the sole owner of the business after buying out his relatives’ ownership stakes for about $200 million — at a time when the tobacco industry was the subject of national lawsuits.
Forbes estimated Middleton’s net worth at $3.4 billion earlier this year, which puts him in a 30-person tie for 883rd place in the publication’s worldwide ranking of billionaires.
Middleton paid about $18 million for a 15% share of the Phillies in 1994, joining an ownership group that included the Betz and Buck families along with former team president David Montgomery, who died in 2019, and Bill Giles. The Betz and Buck families were among the group of investors, which also included former 76ers owner Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr. and Taft Broadcasting Co., that bought the Phillies from the Carpenter family for $30 million in 1981.
Middleton increased his stake in the Phillies over the subsequent years, reportedly investing another $51 million in the team, and now holds a 48% ownership stake. Forbes estimated the value of the Phillies at $2.3 billion this year, a 12% jump from 2021 and a mark that ranks 8th among all MLB teams.
“I was born and raised in Philadelphia,” Middletown told the Philadelphia Business Journal in a 2018 interview. “I’ve been a Philadelphia fan since I was 3 or 4 years old. I was attending home Phillies and Eagles games since I was 5 or 6. My family has had season tickets for the Eagles since 1961. I know the fans well here because, frankly, I’ve been a fan for nearly 60 years. When we win, we will sell out. We’ll draw extremely well. There are cities in this country where you can have a championship- caliber team and fans won’t show up. That’s not an issue in Philadelphia, period.”
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