Ozzie and Daniel Silna were born in 1933 and 1944, respectively, to a pair of Latvian immigrants who had settled in New Jersey in the 1930s. Their father ran a small textile business which both brothers took over until the company was sold in the early 1960s. Soon after, Ozzie and Dan launched their own knitting business that eventually grew into one of the largest manufacturers of polyester just as disco fever swept the nation in the 1970s.
The Silna brothers were the co-owners of a former ABA franchise known as the Spirits of St. Louis. When the ABA merged with the NBA in '76, these guys made a decision that every investor would dream of. In exchange for dissolving their team, they received a small percentage of the NBA's future broadcast revenue.
It didn't seem like much to the league at the time, but they are definitely regretting the deal now more than the Silna Bros are. The NBA has $7.4 billion in TV contracts with ABC/ESPN and TNT. The Silnas see 1/7 of the television revenues of the four ABA teams that were absorbed: the Spurs, Nuggets, Nets and Pacers.
The income goes on without an end date. Last season the Silnas made a cool $19M without putting in any effort whatsoever.
After making $300M since the deal was reached in '76, a judge recently ruled that the Silnas also have rights to Internet revenue.more » « less