How Joe Ricketts Cost Himself $300m in Stadium Subsidies By Forwarding Racist Conspiracy Theories

This is going to take a minute to get to the stadium connection, so bear with me:

Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, and also the man who started the news site DNAinfo and bought my current part-time employer Gothamist before shutting them both down in a hissy fit when they unionized, recently had a cache of his old emails leaked to the news site Splinter (which is owned by Gizmodo Media Group, whose site Deadspin I sometimes write for). The whole series is well worth reading — I’ve previously mentioned here the revelation that Joe’s son Todd once suggested moving the Cubs in a hissy fit after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel bragged about refusing to give them public money for stadium renovations — but today’s installment, collecting all the racist and/or crazy email memes that Joe Ricketts shared with his family, includes this invaluable nugget he forwarded in 2011:

It appears Barry fled New York to Chicago using his new identity to get a job . He likely ordered a fake diploma to bolster his new identity as “Obama”. Fake diplomas were very big in the 80s and diploma mills were even being used by federal workers to get promotions. There is evidence his alleged attendance at Columbia was faked (Barry never attended Columbia) and Barry lied his way into Harvard (he had no transcripts to get in)… Including telling the Saudi royal family he was fighting in Afghanistan with the Muslim Jihad against the Russians, so they would help him get into a law school.

“Barry” is Barack Obama, and the rest of it is the conspiracy theory that the then-president was secretly a Muslim and faked his birth certificate and maybe was a male prostitute and … you may have heard the rest from a certain then-presidential candidate.

Fine, so Joe Ricketts believes unverified things he reads on the internet, like a lot of people. Unlike a lot of people, though, shortly thereafter he also considered spending $10 million on an anti-Obama attack ad, only to have to pull it when people started canceling their accounts with his brokerage TD Ameritrade. But Emanuel, who prior to being elected Chicago mayor had served as Obama’s White House chief of staff, was reportedly “livid” about the proposed ads, and stopped talking to Cubs officials entirely about nearly $300 million in public money he’d been considering providing for the Cubs’ private renovations to Wrigley Field. Ricketts never got his public money, ended up spending his own money on Wrigley renovations, and now people are blaming that for the Cubs not wanting to spend money on Bryce Harper this winter. (Though it doesn’t make any sense economically — if anything, spending lots of money on a renovated stadium creates more of an incentive to spend money on a winning team in order to fill those more-expensive seats with more expensive fannies. And there are plenty of other explanations why the Cubs, and everybody, haven’t signed Bryce Harper.)

Ricketts apologized yesterday for some of his emails, though he didn’t specify which ones — he also had written that “Islam is a cult and not a religion” and replied “good one” to an anti-Muslim Star Trek joke, so there’s a lot to choose from. Anyway, just one more week before pitchers and catchers report to Cubs spring training! Feel the excitement!

24 comments on “How Joe Ricketts Cost Himself $300m in Stadium Subsidies By Forwarding Racist Conspiracy Theories

    • As Cubs owners? No, especially since it’s Tom, not Joe, who is officially in charge of the team.

    • They just purchased the final 5% owned by the Tribune Company. Supposedly, this will lift some of the payroll restrictions.

  1. @Ave
    LOL!!! The economic bracket that the Rickett’s family is a part of ensures nothing will happen to them vis a vis MLB forcing them out of their ownership of the Cubs. Oh, there might be a statement from MLB expressing “disappointment” in Rickett’s words, but other than that, there will be NO real repercussions. Professional sports team owners can get away with almost anything, although Donald Sterling is an example of the NBA taking a great stand and kicking him out of ownership of LAC.

    • There’s always the possibility of an Eddie DiBartolo like ‘ban’ (you know, where you can’t stand on the sidelines and have to wear a fake moustache when you sit in the owner’s box etc… then eventually have to give the team to one of your kids and hope she doesn’t marry an idiot oops too late).

      I tend to agree that MLB will do nothing to the Ricketts family. It’s not like it wasn’t known that some of them were wackos before they bought the team.

      Did the NBA really take a stand against Sterling? Certainly that was the public image… however Sterling could have fought them in court and potentially won… yet quietly moved aside.

      On the other hand, the Clippers were considered to be worth about $640-650m before all the publicity. They sold for $2Bn after it, effectively raising the tide of all NBA boats. It’s possible that they would have sold for a similar amount anyway (Ballmer is as Ballmer does). Did the raised profile (albeit through bad press for Sterling, which he had had plenty of in the past…) increase the amount the Sterlings received for the team?

      I’m not suggesting the whole mess was staged, just that it had the happiest of outcomes for the most vile person in the story.

      • My guess is that MLB doesn’t consider Conspiracy Joe part of the Cubs ownership group. And there are differing political views among the Ricketts family. It would be nice if MLB were to warn the Cubs that he is not welcome.

        • Tom didn’t fall that far from the tree:

          • Yikes. And come to think of it, they did go out of their way to visit President Trump at the White House even thought he had mocked them, and they had already visited President Obama at the White House.

          • IF my parents owned a money tree, I would try hard not to fall from it at all, much less far away…

            But yeah, as a 35yr Cub fan who is currently entertaining alternate teams for future fandom thanks almost solely to the Ricketts family, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

            When TR was introduced as owner he claimed to have met his wife in the bleachers at Wrigley. And proposed to her at Wrigley. Yet when the announcers (clumsily) asked who the Cubs were playing he fumbled around and couldn’t name the team. (Ricketts memo to all staff: When I make a publicstatement about how long I have supported the Cubs and how much I love them THERE WILL BE NO QUESTIONS ASKED ABOUT THE STATEMENT PERIOD)

            Many of us wondered if he could name any NL team other than the one he had just purchased….

          • @John Bladen

            Also a life long Cubs fan here, and at the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon who shakes his fist at change/progress, I’m increasingly turned OFF by the Disney-ification of Wrigley Field and the constant addition of sections catering to the extremely wealthy or corporate lackeys…now having recently moved to the Twin Cities, it will be easier to avoid the circus that is Wrigley Field & the Cubs.

          • That article is wrong, it’s actually Todd:


    • Not just the economic bracket. Don’t forget Pete Ricketts, who is officially a partial owner, is the Governor of Nebraska. Sure, Nebraska is Nebraska but it does have 2 US Senators. Not only are the Ricketts filthy rich they’ve got more clout than a Bridgeport ward boss.

  2. So everybody knows, Joe Ricketts is NOT part of the Cubs ownership. Joe Ricketts has nothing to do with the Cubs.

    • Not on paper, but the purchase was made by Joe’s kids with a family trust that Joe set up. So he has a little to do with them still:

  3. I see the conspiracy angle, but where’s the racism? Or did you just throw that in for good measure without a shred of proof that Ricketts is indeed, a racist?

    And for the record, no one, including our Marxist ex-president himself, has been able to provide any transcripts from Columbia.

    • If “Islam is a cult and not a religion” doesn’t count as racist to you, then there are plenty more examples if you click through to the actual Splinter article.

      • No, it doesn’t count as racist to me. Since when is Islam a race? If that is the STRONGEST example of Ricketts’ racism you can produce, why would I waste my time reading through the entire Splinter article?

        You activists throw the R word around so often, it has become meaningless. If everyone is a racist, then no one is a racist.

    • Mr. Croke: Let’s see you provide proof of Mr. Obama’s Marxism then. I understand people not liking him or the results of his presidency, but if you consider him to be a Marxist then you have pretty clearly never read Marx or studied Marxism as ‘applied’ in real world examples (most of which failed).

      Joe Ricketts has a long history of making both quasi racist and outright racist comments.

      • I have no idea what you would consider proof of his Marxism.

        During his entire Presidency, I can’t find one example where he promoted individual freedoms over group rights or increased government intervention in our lives. Can you?

        If he wasn’t a Marxist, I’d like to know what specifically he did that a Marxist President would not have done.