KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Patrick Mahomes wanted to invest in Kansas City and some of its prominent institutions when he bought into the ownership groups of two of the city's pro sports franchises, Major League Baseball's Royals and Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City.
For Mahomes, it's not just an expensive hobby. For now he's content with his current job as quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the divisional round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS), but Mahomes views these investments as internships of sorts in preparing him for his next job.
"This is just a start, honestly," Mahomes said of his interest in pro sports ownership. "I want to invest in the Kansas City community, and I want to have something that my kids will be able to have once I'm gone. You buy into these great franchises that love Kansas City in the hope that one day you could become one of the majority owners of something. I don't know what that is yet, but that's the hope one day.
"I don't think you've been able to see a football player be able to do that yet, but it's definitely something I've looked into. It's a long process, and getting to learn from some of these people that run great franchises now is definitely going to help me in the long run."
Mahomes is 26, so he has years before he will be joining Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter and others as an elite athlete who later owns a pro sports franchise. Mahomes, who is signed through 2031, will keep his current job for another decade, if not longer.
But he is setting himself on the path to sports ownership with an eye on expanding Kansas City's offerings.
"I would always keep my options open, but I've always tried to go with Kansas City first," he said. "That's the biggest thing for me. You look at things like trying to find a way to bring an NBA team to Kansas City, try to do stuff like that [or] a hockey team, all of that different type of stuff. I would definitely say my first option would be to try to do something in Kansas City and at the last resort, if that didn't work, I would try to figure out maybe something else.
"You can't play football forever. I want to play for a long time but you can't play forever but I always want to be involved in sports in some way."
Mahomes is equipped to buy into ownership. He signed a contract extension in the summer of 2020 that will pay him $450 million over 10 years. That contract extension kicks in beginning next season, and that money does not take into account a growing portfolio of endorsements that already includes State Farm, Adidas, Oakley, DirecTV and Hunt's Ketchup.
Mahomes approached the principal owners of the Royals, John Sherman, and Sporting Kansas City, Cliff Illig, about buying into the teams. For the Royals and Sporting KC, it doesn't hurt to have a star quarterback as part of the ownership group or for Mahomes to attend home games.
Before each Sporting Kansas City home game, the public address announcer lists the names of the members of the club's ownership group to the fans. Inevitably, Mahomes' name is last and gets the loudest cheer.
"The place just goes nuts," Illig said. "But when he came into our group, there was no arrangement for him to go out and help us sell season tickets or anything like that. It was really a straightforward transaction. He wrote a check and we include him on the ownership now and we're very much glad for that."
But both owners said their decisions to allow Mahomes to become a minority owner had far more to do with his sincerity about learning the business end of ownership than anything else.
"He's not just a disinterested, very well-paid athlete trying to create some visibility that doesn't have anything to do with his chosen sport or vocation," Illig said. "It's much more than that. He's a sponge. He's trying to learn as much as he can learn. He knows he'll learn more by being involved more. We have three or four owners meetings a year with our little owners' group, and he will be welcomed at those.
"We want to be open with him. We want him to understand how the business of sports works, at least from our vantage point in soccer, and if he's doing the same thing with John and the Royals, he's getting a pretty good education."
Sherman, who bought the Royals in late 2019, has many local investors and had two rules for any before allowing them into the ownership group: They had to love baseball, and they had to love Kansas City.
Mahomes' father, Pat, was a major league pitcher for 11 years with six teams. Patrick was a high school baseball star who played briefly in college at Texas Tech. He was drafted in 2014 in the 37th round by the Detroit Tigers.
"He saw this as a way to double down on Kansas City," Sherman said. "When we acquired the team, we put together a great ownership group here ... all people who loved baseball and loved Kansas City. Patrick kind of met that criteria. He did it for the right reasons. I felt like it was good for Kansas City, good for the Royals and also good for him. He's got an interest in the game, and I think he also sees this also as a way to learn a little bit about the business of the game.
"He comes from a baseball background. He clearly loves the game. He chose football for his profession, but he's certainly embracing Kansas City in a big way. That means a lot to us."
Mahomes has no formal role with either team other than to provide his support.
"I don't get to make any decisions," he said. "I'm not talking to [Royals president] Dayton Moore or anything like that. The biggest thing for me is that I get to watch and see how things are done. You get to kind of get to talk to those guys, those owners like the Shermans and the Illigs, and see how things are done. I'm not making decisions or anything like that, but you kind of get to see what the process is and what their vision is for the future of those organizations. I see it as a big-picture thing.
"Obviously, I'm busy right now. I'm playing sports, and I want to make sure I'm on the top of my game. But football is not forever, and I want to learn from these people that have had so much success in building franchises and having ownership and being able to manage on-field production and off-field stuff. Being able to ask those questions and be around people who have so much success is going to help me."
That homework should come in handy if Mahomes eventually follows through on his ownership plans. Seeing the game from a different angle can be an education, even for elite athletes.
"There are a lot of layers that you have to peel back," said Julie Foudy, former captain of the U.S. women's national soccer team and now a member of the ownership group of Angel City FC of the National Women's Soccer League. "I had no idea. It's eye-opening. All of a sudden you understand at a completely different level other than at just 30,000 feet up why things are happening and why things are such a challenge.
"The thing that's going to be great for [Mahomes] is that he's a player who you can tell is absolutely loved by his teammates and is a leader. He'll come into it with the mindset of making things better for the players. He'll understand the players have rights and a voice and should be a part of building something together."
Mahomes also has a role model in chairman Clark Hunt, who has been one of the Chiefs' unsung heroes in their journey to becoming one of the NFL's model franchises. It took Hunt a few seasons to figure out the proper path for the Chiefs after he succeeded his father, Lamar, as the team's chairman in 2006, but his hires of coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach and the drafting of Mahomes have set the franchise on a course for success for years to come.
"He'll be a tremendous owner," Hunt said. "We know he's a very quick learner. I just hope we're talking about this 25 years from now.
"One of the things we've seen in Patrick in his young career in the NFL is what a tremendous leader he is and how well he works with different groups of people. That's a quality I think will serve him well if he gets into pro sports ownership or any kind of business endeavors down the road. That will be a great asset for him."
Mahomes said he already has selected his management style. He won't be firing anyone after a disappointing loss but will keep his emotions out of any decision.
"I'll definitely be the patient type of owner." he said. "I've played the sports and understand what the coaches are putting in day-to-day and the players are putting in day-to-day and general managers and everything. They're working their tails off to be the best they can possibly be. Unless people come to me for advice, I'll watch and let those guys handle their business knowing they're doing everything they can to win."