LA billionaire covets sports teams to promote health
By Ronald Grover
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bio-tech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles, intends to make a bid for sports and real estate firm Anschutz Entertainment Group and wants to bring a National Football League team back to the second most populous U.S. city.
The 60-year-old sports fan, a surgeon who started and sold two pharmaceutical companies for a combined $8.6 billion, told Reuters in an interview this week that he wants to use Anschutz concert tours and sports events, and his NFL team's players, to encourage L.A. school children to adopt healthier lifestyles.
"The NFL can do so much for this city," said Soon-Shiong in an interview at his west Los Angeles office. "Kids really rally around sports and entertainment and it could be a major catalyst to demonstrate what you can do in life by living better."
Soon-Shiong grew up in South Africa, where he became a doctor in his early 20s and treated tuberculosis victims. After moving to the United States and becoming a surgeon at UCLA, he developed innovative methods to treat diabetes and cancer patients.
The sale of his two companies for $8.6 billion made him the wealthiest person in Los Angeles, according to Forbes magazine, although he still is not a household name in the city.
Under his plan, players would serve as mentors, encouraging students to eat better and exercise more. The most sophisticated methods used to deal with sports injuries could be shared with local doctors.
"It's important to motivate students in middle and high school. That's when you can help reduce diabetes and obesity that cause illness," he said. "Maybe we can turn that illness to wellness."
If he's successful in L.A., Soon-Shiong said he intends to make it a national program. Continued...