Dan Snyder is Proof That Luck Can Be a Cruel Mistress

In Business, luck can be a cruel mistress. Too often, good luck can be mistaken for brilliance.

Take the case of Daniel Snyder. He sold a schlock telesales operation and made hundreds of millions of dollars. Since then he’s demonstrated his brillance in multiple ventures:

  1. In 2005, he began accumulated stock in Six Flags until he gained control of the board. He installed a buddy as CEO and named himself Chairman. In 2009 the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Under the reorganization plan, Snyder was removed and lost his entire investment. A real businessman, named Bill Gates, owned 10,210,600 shares worth about $122 million when Snyder took control of the company in 2006. They were worth nothing by the time Snyder was ejected from the board. That’s $122 million that the Gates Foundation could have used to eradicate malaria. Thanks, Dan!
  2. In 2006 he bought and nearly destroyed Johnny Rockets, and dumped it in 2013.
  3. In 2007 he paid $175 million for the rights to own and destroy Dick Clark products, which he later sold in 2012.

But no failure has been more evident than what he has done with the Redskins, something I’ve been documenting for years.

  1. Brand Management: A Redskins Case Study – January 2011
  2. The Redskins, Entrepreneurial Lessons From Losing – November 2011
  3. Dan Snyder’s Redskins Toxic Culture – December 2013
  4. The 5 Dysfunctions Of The Redskins Team – December 2013
  5. Redskins Culture A Dogs Breakfast – March 2017

When Snyder purchased the Redskins, it was widely reported that there was a 10-year waiting list for Redskins tickets. Today, the stadium would be empty if it wasn’t for opposing fans from cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Dallas come to play in what opposing teams consider a bi-weak. Snyder had seats ripped out of the stadium in order to meet Sell-Out status so home games could be locally televised. People use to put their season tickets in their wills. Today many of the people I expose here as frauds send me Skins tickets as payback.

A comparison of the last compete 20 years of Snyder ownership to the last 20 years of the Jack Kent Cooke ownership reveals a marked contrast.

Yes, luck can be a cruel mistress. Maybe if Snyder won an actual lottery instead of getting hit with the lucky stick on his first business, he would have understood that rolling a seven on your first dice roll did not anoint him as a master of the universe.

In my experience I have had multiple failures… many more failures than success. Here’s how I would rank 3 factors leading to success ranked according to influence on the outcome:

  1. Playing The Game – There is no greater contributing factor to success than luck – It’s like gambling on a Vegas slot machine… the odds are stacked against you but you play anyway and some people win
  2. Hard Work – Hard work increases how many times you play – It’s like getting two pulls on the slot machine with the same coin
  3. Brilliance – It’s thinking that slot machines bad because the odds are grossly stacked in favor of the house from 6 – 15 percent so you play blackjack where the house only has a 1 percent edge

Many entrepreneurs I know have been hit by the lucky stick and experienced success right away and still recognize how lucky they have been. I respect the hell out of these folks. Yet too many people get lucky on the first roll of the dice and think that the dice landed on seven because of their brilliance. Daniel Snyder is like that. He’s been very very lucky… his first roll of the dice was a seven. He knows that it came up seven because of his intellect. He just can’t figure out why every time he has rolled the dice since… it keeps hitting snake eyes.

Acknowledging the luck factor and excepting that you are not the master of the universe makes a person more open to learning, more open to feedback and more likely to succeed again.

October 21 Update: As a reader just pointed out to me, Snyder’s luck continues. Two decades ago this cretin purchased the Skins for $750 million. In the last 20 years while his mismanaged team has been one of the worst franchises in the NFL the value has grown to be worth an estimated $3.1 billion today. Had he invested that money in the S&P with reinvesting dividends over the same period of time it would only be worth $2.3 Billion. I guess even incompetence can’t beat good luck.

According to Investopedia as of October 6, 2019, here are the top 10 most valuable NFL Teams.

Rank Team 2019 Value ($ in billions)
1 Dallas Cowboys $5.50
2 New England Patriots $4.10
3 New York Giants $3.90
4 Los Angeles Rams $3.80
5 San Francisco 49ers $3.50
6 Chicago Bears $3.45
7 Washington Redskins $3.40
8 New York Jets $3.20
9 Houston Texans $3.10
10 Philadelphia Eagles $3.05

Another reader spoke up on LinkedIn and left this tale of woe.

Glen, I left two seasons tickets on the front seat of my car Saturday night, when I woke up on Sunday morning someone had broken my passenger side window and left two more.

Got to love my readers!