The National Football League’s Detroit Lions are backed by a hefty name in the auto industry.

Its ownership rooster includes Sheila Ford Hamp, Martha Ford Morse, William Clay Ford, Jr., Elizabeth Ford Kontulis and Martha Firestone Ford. In other words, the Ford family. 

The team has been owned by members of the Ford family since 1963 when William Clay Ford Sr. bought majority ownership of the team for $6 million, according to NFL.com.  

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It was eery timing though given that the deal went through the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, according to Sports Illustrated.

William Clay Ford Sr. passed away in March 2014, after serving as the sole owner of the franchise for 50 seasons, according to the Detroit Lions. 

But his “ownership grew into a deeply-rooted family tradition that now includes multiple generations of the Ford Family,” according to the Lions. 

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Today, his daughter Sheila Ford Hamp is the majority owner of the team. She succeeded her mother, Martha Firestone Ford, in 2020, which means she essentially became the face of the Lions. From 2014 to 2019, she served as one of the team’s vice chairs during her mother’s ownership. 

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After six seasons as majority own, Martha Firestone Ford now serves as chair emeritus. In this role, she supports her children in the organizational leadership of the franchise.

All of Ford Sr.’s other children including William Clay Ford Jr., Elizabeth Ford Kontulis and Martha Ford Morse all have minority stakes. 

In 1995, William Clay Ford Jr. was named an owner and vice chair of the team after being involved with the team for decades, according to the Lions. 

Alongside his father, Ford Jr. is credited with being instrumental in bringing the Lions back home to Detroit in 1996. The team moved from the suburbs and built Ford Field in downtown Detroit. He is also credited with playing a “vital role in Detroit’s bid for Super Bowl XL” in 2006, according to the team.

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According to the Lions, the Ford Family and Ford Motor Company “were integral” in hosting the sporting event in February, which infused $260 million into the local economy. 

Elizabeth Ford Kontulis, the youngest of the four siblings, has also been involved with the team her entire life. 

She paid great importance to getting to know the players and their families during the games over the past five decades, according to the Detroit Lions.

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