Adding yet another name to their ownership group, the Washington Spirit announced today that Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and his wife Nastya Ovechkin have joined as part owners of the team.
Ovechkin needs no introduction to locals as a longtime player for the Capitals since 2005, as well as being named team captain in 2010. Ovechkin told ESPN he wants to support women’s professional athletes, as well as the local community. Both his parents were athletes, and his mother, Tatyana Ovechkina, won two Olympic gold medals in basketball in 1976 and 1980. He will now join a group of notable Spirit owners with a strong local flavor, among them Dominique Dawes, Brianna Scurry, Tom Daschle, Chelsea Clinton, and Jenna Bush Hager. This is also a trend in NWSL ownership groups, as the Spirit, Chicago Red Stars, and Angel City FC have all bought into a model of multiple [and likely smaller] buy-ins from many individuals. In fact, Ovechkin is actually part of another wave of new owners that include local businessowners such as venture firm Adeft Capital founder Carol Melton and developer Carl M. Freeman Companies president Michelle Freeman.
Ovechkin was on a conference call with media next to Spirit owner Steve Baldwin and players Aubrey Bledsoe and Tori Huster earlier this afternoon.
“When I hear from my guys I have opportunity to be one of the investors on this team, I said yeah why not,” Ovechkin said. “Pretty big community. I hope I’m going to help this community to grow.” He pointed to the difficulties Russian women’s basketball currently has in trying to build their fanbase and said he hoped he could get people in the stands for the Spirit.
Baldwin said the process of bringing Ovechkin onboard began earlier this year through a friend of Ovechkin’s agent who connected him with the team. “You know that I’ll pull the thread on any relationship to see where it might lead,” said Baldwin. He explained the large expansion of the ownership group across several different industries would enable them to reach more corporate partners, become more of a global brand, and provide more resources for the players.
“Our goal is to be the best club in the world so we’re not looking just for a paycheck,” said Bledsoe. “Steve and everyone have been strategic about finding investors who want to commit time. So I know we’re looking forward to putting some subgroups together and see exactly how they can partner with us as players, individually, and serve as mentors, provide different job opportunities. Just unique experiences and kind of just pull from the diversity of the investor group.”
“I think players like Alex...I think that they can provide advice, they can be mentors as professional athletes because they are dealing with something that is maybe a step above what women’s sports is at currently,” said Huster. “And I think overall they can help us be better professionals across the board, and provide a lot of access and just more information.”
The Spirit kick off their regular season campaign on Sunday, May 16 away at the Orlando Pride.