It's a sad day across the sports world as New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has passed away at the age of 90.
Pelicans Owner Tom Benson, 90, passed away peacefully today at Ochsner Medical Center with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his side https://t.co/RR2o0MGJc7 pic.twitter.com/BPpWqbb7bu
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 15, 2018
Benson was first hospitalized at the Ochsner Medical Center with the flu on February 16th. He was never released and passed away today with his wife, Gayle Marie Benson by his side.
Benson got his fortune building up a car dealership empire after starting as a car's salesman. In 1985 he purchased the Saints for 70 Million dollars and has been apart of the team's success, including a Super Bowl victory.
In the 2012 Benson bought the Pelicans from the NBA for 338 million dollars. At the time the team was called the New Orleans Hornets, but Benson changed the name to the Pelicans because he felt it better fit the city.
With his death though, it brings a lot of questions surrounding the Pelicans franchise. In 2014, Benson disowned three heirs and it started a costly legal battle.
Benson and the family reached a settlement in June of 2016 but the details of the settlement were not released. Along with the Saints and the Pelicans Benson and his wife also own car dealerships, real estate and New Orleans TV station WVUE-FOX 8.
Benson joined the Navy shortly after his 18th birthday. He served at sea shortly after World War two, and when he came back he enrolled at Loyola University. He eventually dropped out and took a job as a bookkeeper at a Car Dealership. He then moved up the ranks in the industry eventually and bought his own dealerships, which helped him build the wealth to purchase the Saints and the Pelicans.