The man who may become the next owner of the Cleveland Browns already has some business connections to Ohio and Lorain County.
Jimmy Haslam III is the CEO of the Pilot Flying J company, which operates hundreds of travel centers and gas stations spread across the country, including one in Avon.
Haslam isn’t a stranger to football, either, although Browns fans may not appreciate his pedigree. Currently a part owner of the Steelers, he once said he favored the Dawgs’ archrivals.
“I am 1,000 percent a Steelers fan,” Haslam said in a 2010 profile on the Pittsburgh team’s website.
But Haslam also acknowledged that his football loyalties have shifted over the years. He said in the 2010 profile that he had once been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and, later, the Indianapolis Colts.
Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the National Football League, said that no owner can have a stake in more than one team.
That means if the Browns deal goes through, Haslam will have to divest himself of his interest in the Steelers, freeing him to become a fan of a new team.
The Pilot company, which merged with Flying J in 2010, was founded by his father, James Haslam II, in 1958 and has grown into one of the largest privately held companies in the world.
The company’s spokeswoman, Lauren Christ, declined to comment on the potential deal between Haslam and current Browns’ owner Randy Lerner.
The latest news release from the company, dated July 11, said it was planning to invest $49 million into upgrading and remodeling the showers at its various and Flying J Plazas and Pilot Travel Centers.
In addition to his business and Steelers connection, Haslam and his wife, Dee Haslam, donated millions of dollars to the University of Tennessee, according to press materials. The company is based in that state.
Haslam also isn’t alone in sports ownership in his family. His brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, owns part of the minor league baseball team, the Tennessee Smokies, according to online profiles.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.