Who is Tony Kahn? Meet the Billionaire behind AEW
For wrestling fans, Tony Khan seems to have appeared out of nowhere. His new promotion AEW (All Elite Wrestling) has captured the interest of many in the wrestling world and is being hyped as a potential rival to the ever-dominant WWE. But just who is this mysterious billionaire? What is so special about AEW? And does it have what it takes to compete with the WWE?
Tony Kahn: Founder, President and CEO
Despite what it may look like, Tony Khan, the founder and CEO of this new promotion, hasn’t just appeared out of nowhere. He has been invested in the sporting world for a number of years now, particularly the NFL where he has been a co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2012, alongside his father. In 2017 he was also named Vice Chairman of the English Premier-League soccer team Fulham F.C. where he oversees the recruitment of new players. This team is also co-owned by Tony and his father.
For those who don’t know, the Khan family are of Pakistani and American heritage, with patriarch Shahid Khan initially earning his money with hard graft in the automotive manufacturing industry with his company Flex-N-Gate (based in Illinois). In 2017, the company was ranked among the top 50 largest private companies in the USA.
Later Shahid diversified his business interests by purchasing the previously mentioned sports teams, starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The purchase made him one of only three NFL team owners in history to have been born outside of the US. In 2012 Shahid appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine as a representative and exemplar par excellence of the American Dream. They are not the only wealthy Khans in America, which may cause some confusion. The name is also known to fans of gambling via Kenneth Khan who runs the Chumash Casino in California – the Native Indians’ Casino resort which became one of the most successful in the state and is strongly competing against many casinos available online.
All of this basically means that for a start-up wrestling promotion, AEW has some serious financial muscle behind it. While Tony Khan is the founder, president and CEO of the company, his billionaire father Shahid Khan is the “lead investor, supporter and backer” according to an official statement from AEW.
With a net worth of around $6.8 billion, Shahid Kahn is one of the wealthiest men in America. It’s also been reported that Tony himself has invested at least $100 million of his own money in the endeavour.
As a wealthy businessman involved in sports and a self-professed life-long fan of professional wrestling it ultimately makes sense that Tony Khan would want to have a stake in the wrestling world, and he is carving his place out with AEW.
AEW is still pretty fresh. The promotion was only founded at the beginning of this year, on January 1st 2019, however it is somehow already regarded as the second biggest wrestling promotion out there and has even signed some of the biggest names in wrestling to its roster. This roster includes WWE veteran Chris Jericho, as well as naming Cody Rhodes and brothers Matt and Nick Jackson executive Vice-Presidents of the new promotion.
Supposedly what sets AEW apart from the competitors is the emphasis on athletics, analytics and competitiveness rather than scripted entertainment and backstage drama. In the wake of a scandal revealed by John Oliver on his show Last Week Tonight, where he discussed the WWE mistreating employees by not paying for healthcare necessities, AEW has also pledged to pay for all medical costs for its wrestlers in addition to a higher basic salary.
Double or Nothing
AEW’s first official event, Double or Nothing, kicked off on May 25th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and pulled in surprisingly good numbers for a brand new Pay-per-view event, with over 98,000 individual purchases online and via television. This is a strong contrast to the WWE and RAW, the latter of which is currently losing viewership numbers and struggling to draw audiences on a regular basis.
So while Tony Kahn and AEW are going to great lengths to emphasise that they are not trying to compete for market-share or wrestling talent with the WWE, the PPV numbers, wrestler salaries and healthcare benefits mean Vince McMahon might just be quaking in his boots.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.