Washington, D.C. (05/25/2023) Sports Business Journal (SBJ) announced that Michele Kang has won “Deal of the Year” as a part of its 16th Annual Sports Business Awards for her 2022 acquisition of the Washington Spirit.
Kang, who was selected by SBJ as a 2022 Power Player in Women’s Sports, was one of five nominees that included the Walton-Penner group’s acquisition of the Denver Broncos, Major League Soccer and Apple’s ten-year media rights agreement, the Big Ten Conference’s seven-year media rights agreement with FOX, CBS and NBC amongst others. She was the only woman represented.
“As a female entrepreneur who has some resources, I felt this was my responsibility. But more importantly, I see this as a business with incredible commercial viability,” said Kang in her acceptance speech. “We’re not charity.”
Upon purchasing the Washington Spirit for a record-setting $35 million on March 30, 2022, Kang became the first person of color to hold a majority stake in an NWSL club. Per SBJ, “The $35 million acquisition, the most expensive in league history at the time, reset the market for NWSL franchises, directly leading to the league extracting a record $58 million expansion fee from the owners of the recently announced expansion team in the Bay Area.”
Her SBJ “Deal of the Year” victory also came on the heels of her acquisition of eight-time Champions League-winning French club Olympique Lyonnais (OL). OL competes in Division 1 Féminine, the highest level of women’s professional soccer in France.
This move will bring together the Spirit and Lyon in a global network of women’s soccer clubs. It will become the first woman-owned and -led organization of its kind, cementing Kang’s new mission of rewriting the narrative of what is possible in women’s professional soccer.
Her commitment to establishing the Washington Spirit as a perennial powerhouse and world-caliber professional sporting organization has been evident ever since she acquired the club.
Paramount to Kang’s mission were both hiring a fleet of extremely qualified professionals in multiple roles across the organization and establishing an exclusive, state-of-the-art stadium located in Washington, D.C.
Not even a year into her tenure as owner, Kang successfully executed both of these goals as the club struck a multi-year deal to call Audi Field its new home and hired some of the brightest minds in sport and business – President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Mark Krikorian, President of Business Operations Emma May, Head Coach Mark Parsons and Vice President of Performance, Medical and Innovation Dawn Scott.
Among the Spirit’s newly established leadership, one theme is consistent: Kang’s commitment to establishing the Spirit as a world-class organization.
Part of Kang’s deal to acquire the Spirit came with the mandate of providing a world-class experience and professional product to fans. There are now more options at every price point than the club has ever offered, including affordable season plans, pitch-side premium seating and an extended roof at Audi Field for more coverage from the elements.
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About The Washington Spirit
The Washington Spirit is the professional women’s soccer team based at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Launched in 2012, the Spirit plays in the National Women’s Soccer League, the premier women’s soccer competition in North America. For more information about the Spirit, visit WashingtonSpirit.com and follow the club on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.