Trump once made a dismal prediction about the value of NFL teams after investing in a rival league, and it turned out to be way off

  • President Donald Trump talks a big game about his abilities as a dealmaker, but a 1984 profile from The New York Times reveals a stark miscacluation by the real-estate mogul.
  • The profile presents Trump discussing his reasoning for buying the USFL’s New Jersey Generals instead of investing in a franchise that played in the more proven NFL, such as the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Trump claimed the USFL represented a better investment, but the USFL would be defunct within three years of his purchase, and the Cowboys would go on to be worth an estimated $US4.8 billion in 2017.

President Donald Trump has often talked about his affinity for a good deal.

But a 1984 profile of Trump by The New York Times reveals that he has in fact made some bad calls in his time as a dealmaker – and missed out on some good deals.

While Trump’s war against the NFL over the national anthem is by far his highest-profile feud with the league, it is not the first – back in the 1980s, Trump attempted to take on the NFL by way of the newly founded USFL.

The Times profile covers Trump just after his purchase of the New Jersey Generals of the soon-to-be-defunct league for an estimated $US8 million to $US9 million (about $US20 million to $US22 million today). Throughout the article, as Trump talks about the players he has signed and is pursuing, he also discusses his reasoning for buying into the fledgling league.

”I could have bought an NFL team,” Trump said. ”There were three or four available – that still are available, including, of course, the Dallas Cowboys. I could have bought an NFL club for $US40 million or $US50 million, but it’s established and you would just see it move laterally. Not enough to create there.”

Trump would go on to note that he believed the potential value of his USFL investment was much higher than that of an NFL team, as the New Jersey Generals still had room to grow. He also implied a flatlining of value among NFL franchises.

”I feel sorry for the poor guy who is going to buy the Dallas Cowboys,” Trump continued. “It’s a no-win situation for him, because if he wins, well, so what, they have won through the years, and if he loses, which seems likely because they’re having troubles, he’ll be known to the world as a loser.”

By 1986 the USFL would cease to exist, its final season canceled after a failed attempt to move its schedule to the fall to challenge the NFL – an effort pushed by Trump.

As for Trump’s projection on the value of the Cowboys, in 1989, Jerry Jones purchased the franchise for $US140 million (about $US290 million today). The Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls over the next six seasons. In 2017, Forbes estimated the value of the franchise at $US4.8 billion, making it the most valuable team in the league.

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It would go down quite a poor financial projection by the man who would become president, and it could be seen as a glimpse into why Trump stands so passionately against the NFL.

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