Not long after the TMZ audio leak that made Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling an instant pariah, it became clear he was unlikely to hold onto the NBA team for long.
The question then was not so much “who wants to buy the L.A. Clippers?” as “who doesn’t?” Folks including Magic Johnson, Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen, Matt Damon and even Frankie Muniz expressed interest in releasing the team from the clutches of an owner perceived by many as a repugnant racist.
Now, former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer has come out ahead in the bidding war with a cool $2 billion offer for a team that, just this past January, was valued at just $575 million by Forbes. Ballmer, known as a bit of a big spender during his tenure at Microsoft (recall that $8.5 billion Skype buy?), is an avid basketball fan who can well afford this purchase; his net worth is a reported $20 billion, largely due to his Microsoft holdings.
And while we’ve seen business deals just this week that are worth more, $2 billion is a record price tag for an NBA team. As an entertaining exercise, Yahoo Finance looked into some of the other purchases that could be made for this price or less, with an eye toward Ballmer and his specific likes (he’s a golf lover, and has been known to hold many business meetings at a favorite Washington steakhouse). Items tallied are equal to or just a bit less than $2 billion; it's worth noting that, after buying Del Frisco's (DFRG) and BJ's (BJRI) at their current market cap totals, Ballmer would have enough cash left over to purchase approximately 167,785,234 10 oz bottles of Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire sauce.