People were left scratching their heads wondering why a man worth more than $4.4 billion was asking tax payers for more than $200 million to renovate his football team's stadium. But it appears that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross isn't a total tightwad. He's now pledged to give away at least half of his net worth to charity.
Ross, a man who made millions in real estate development, is the latest upper cruster to join the Giving Pledge. The initiative started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet asks other billionaires to promise to give away at least half of their money to charity. Donations can either be made during the pledgee's lifetime or upon death. So far more than 80 billionaires have signed on.
"Although I have generally conducted my philanthropic efforts privately, I hope through publicly committing to the Giving Pledge that I will inspire others to commit to significant philanthropy the way my uncle inspired me," said Ross in a statement.
"I am delighted, grateful and honored to join this important effort in the hope that collectively we can leave the world a little better place than we found it."
Ross's donations will focus on education, the arts, health care and sustainable cities.
It's hard to kick someone whose giving away half of his vast wealth, but the timing couldn't be more strange. Ross's plan to seek public financing for the Dolphins stadium was shot down by the Florida House last Friday amidst complaints that it was essentially public welfare for a billionaire. The Dolphins then announced that they would not go forward with any privately funded renovations. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee is already playing a slight 'we can't promise we'll keep the team in town' game.
Clearly things like education and health care are more important than renovating a football stadium, but it's odd to ask for public money for such a thing when public money could be used for things like, I don't know, education and health care instead. Then again, it's not like Florida's Republican-controlled state government cares very much about spending money on either of those things.