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Ted Leonsis ( 1957 - )  Category ( Businessmen_Women ) [suggest a correction]
 

Ted LeonsisTed Leonsis' business connections are like a Greek salad -- a little bit of everything tossed together to somehow form a credible whole.

He's an Internet mogul, a pro sports owner, a movie producer, a philanthropist. 

Once when his Washington Capitols hockey team faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the National Hockey League playoffs, Leonsis - who just happened to own the controlling interest in the Washington/Baltimore Ticketmaster franchise - used his computer skills to block Penguins' fans from ordering tickets on-line.

Asked if that was fair, he said: "I don't know, but I'm going to keep doing it."

Leonsis is known as one of the most fan-friendly owners in sports, but he once got into an altercation with a season ticket holder and threw him to the floor.

Such are the contradictions of the man.

Born in Brooklyn to Greek-American parents on January 8, 1957, Leonsis graduated from Lowell (MA) High School and Georgetown University, which began his love affair with the Nation's Capitol. He then became one of those fortunate pioneers to park his surfboard atop the Internet wave while it was still gathering force, taking a job with Wang.

Eventually, the gregarious Leonsis formed a marketing firm called Redgate Communications. When that was swallowed by a burgeoning company called American Online, he came along with the deal and was given the job of burnishing and expanding the AOL image. On his watch, AOL's membership went from less than a million to eight million, and he was promoted up the ladder to vice president.

In 2006, Leonsis "retired" (only a figure of speech in his case) to devote more time to Lincoln Holdings, LLC, his entry into the pro sports world. With that company came majority control of both the Capitols and the Washington Mystics of the Woman's National Basketball Association.

At the same time, he was immersing himself in the parallel universe of filmmaking, focusing on films he felt would improve the human condition.

"In 1983," said in an interview, "I survived a plane crash, and it changed my life. I’m not a religious person, but when that plane was going down, I prayed very hard and I promised that if I survived, I would dedicate my life to doing good. Fortunately, I’ve done well enough in my career to have the means to be philanthropic. Filmanthropy comes from that."

His first major project was "Nanking," a film about the atrocities visited upon the residents - especially the women - of that Chinese city by occupying Japanese soldiers during World War II. That was followed by "Kicking It," a documentary about the "Homeless World Cup" in 2006.

Leonsis sits on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards, including NutriSystems and his alma mater. His philanthropic involvements include Hoop Dreams, Big Buddies and a Website that allows users to view and trade documentaries.


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