SF Giants Owner Is The Largest Republican Donor In Sports

SF Giants hat. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
SF Giants hat. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
SF Giants, Donald Trump, Charles Johnson
SF Giants principal owner Charles B. Johnson has donated more money to the Republican Party and Donald Trump than anyone else in sports. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images) /

SF Giants owner Charles Johnson is unparalleled in donating to the republican party this election cycle.

Less than two weeks after the SF Giants laid off 10% of their full-time employees, an investigation by ESPN and FiveThirtyEight revealed that principal owner Charles Johnson has donated nearly $11 million to the Republican Party during the 2016-2020 election cycle. He had no peer in professional sports.

While Johnson donated $5,200 to Democratic Party organizations and $35,000 to bipartisan orgs, he donated $10,995,500 to Republican affiliated ones. Dan DeVos, the owner of the Orlando Magic, sent just under $2.3 million to the Republican Party. Only Johnson donated more than DeVos to any political party.

Johnson’s donations alone made up 32.1% of all donations made by professional team owners to the GOP. In fact, all other MLB owners combined have made less than $9.4 million in contributions to any party affiliated groups over the cycle.

While billionaires and team owners often engage the political process, Johnson remains in a league of his own. In fact, Johnson made more contributions to Republicans than the sum of owners of any major sports league.

League                  Total Republican Donations
Johnson                           $10,995,500
NBA                                    $8,372,300
NHL                                    $7,087,116
NFL                                     $5,032,470
MLB (minus Johnson)    $4,186,261
WNBA                                $1,338,459
NASCAR                              $576,110

In 2018, Johnson donated to the campaign of Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith in her runoff for a Mississippi senate seat against Mike Espy, a Democratic Party nominee. On the campaign trail, Hyde-Smith was caught on camera telling a local rancher that she would be “on the front row” if he invited her to a public hanging.

Nine days after the video surfaced, Johnson doubled his donations to her campaign. She only slightly apologized for the comments and went on to win the election. Since she has been one of the most avid supporters of president Donald Trump in the senate.

Later that same year, Johnson donated to a Republican super PAC that supported candidates that embraced Trump’s policies. Johnson issued a public apology after the group created an advertisement that told Black voters the Democratic Party would bring back lynching unless African-Americans began supporting the GOP.

While in his apology Johnson said “I strongly condemn any form of racism,” he has done little to prove that to be the case. The modern Republican Party was constructred around racism, specifically anti-Blackness. Following Trump’s rise to the presidency, the party’s rhetoric has only become more explicit in their embrace of white supremacist ideas.

Johnson appears to have embraced this shift in the party as well. Per FiveThirtyEight, Johnson was one of just thirteen team owners in pro sports who had made contributions to the Trump campaign and/or Trump super PACs.

There are a number of particularly distasteful parts to this news. Johnson may be the most avid supporter of the Republican Party in pro sports. At the very least, he is most willing to show support with his wallet. Whatever values he claims to have and condemn, he seems content supporting those who empower corporations to pollute the planet, exploit their workers, and do nothing to prevent discrimination based on gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and race.

The size of the donations is particularly appalling alongside the major layoffs of team employees. Even if the roughly 50 team employees laid off cost the team $100,000 each, which is most assuredly an overestimate, the team saved less than half of Johnson’s republican contributions through the move.

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One thing is clear. SF Giants principal owner Charles B. Johnson prioritizes the Republican Party above his own employees. Even in the world of professional sports, which remains a particularly right-wing sect of American culture, Johnson is unparalleled in his fervor to donate money and support right-wing causes.