Greek American Alex Spanos, longtime owner of NFL Team San Diego Chargers died on Tuesday morning at the age of 95.
Mr. Spanos, the son of Greek migrants was a billionaire who made his fortune as a property developer and purchased the San Diego Chargers in 1984. He ran the club for two decades before passing along the responsibilities to his children.
“Aside from being a celebrated businessman and generous philanthropist, Alex’s greatest joy and source of pride was his family,” the Chargers said in a written statement.
“His beloved wife Faye, his four children, his 15 grandchildren, and his 12 great-grandchildren always came first.”
“Together they contributed generously to worthy causes and charities.”
The family released a statement:
“It is with heavy hearts that the Spanos family announces the death of Alexander Gus Spanos, founder of A.G. Spanos Companies and owner of the Chargers NFL Franchise. Alex passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones on Tuesday morning. He was 95.
“From humble beginnings to becoming the top apartment builder across the nation and the owner of an NFL franchise, Alex proved that dreams do come true.
“Alex was the embodiment of the American dream and leaves behind a legacy of passion and hard work. Born the son of Greek immigrants in 1923, Alex’s tireless work ethic and fearlessness was instilled in him when at only eight years old, he began working in his father’s bakery before and after school. A tough upbringing coupled with the unshakeable belief that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to drove him to succeed and overcome countless obstacles.”
Mr. Spanos turned a sandwich truck business into a billion-dollar fortune and became a prominent entrepreneur, sports businessman, and philanthropist.
A son of Greek immigrants who ran a local bakery, Mr. Spanos came from a poor family who worked hard to make ends meet. Renowned with a strong work ethic and good business sense, he became a prominent American businessman.
Mr. Spanos started out selling sandwiches from the back of an old truck to Greek, Italian and other migrant farm workers in the Central Valley. After years of hard work, he became a wealthy man who travelled on private jets inspecting his business projects and mingling with politicians, athletes, and Hollywood celebrities.
“This is a far cry from those bakery days,” he told the Associated Press in 1984. “I think it’s so important for people not to forget their past, never forget where they came from. I love to talk about my past because it wasn’t easy.”
“When I was a kid, we never had a chance to get involved in sports because we worked all the time. I’ve always loved football, and it was a dream of mine to own my own football team. I had the opportunity, I could afford it, and I went out and bought the team,” he said.
Mr. Spanos’ greatest influence, however, was philanthropic. He titled his autobiography “Sharing the Wealth” and gave millions of dollars of his money to charities, churches, educational institutions, hospitals, and civic and sporting organisations.
He supported local community programs and disaster relief programs worldwide. He donated generously to the Greek community, Greek cultural groups and Greek Orthodox churches.