Washington Nationals Owner Ted Lerner Dies at 97 — How He Became a Billionaire

Billionaire real estate magnate Ted Lerner founded Lerner Enterprises and owned the Washington Nationals. What was his net worth upon his death?

Jennifer Farrington - Author

Feb. 15 2023, Updated 12:22 p.m. ET

We often hear stories about how self-made billionaires rose to success with just a few dollars in hand while simultaneously faced with arduous conditions. Although Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, and Oprah Winfrey often occupy those conversations given their level of success, today, we're shifting our focus to another billionaire — real estate magnate Ted Lerner.

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Sure, many know Ted Lerner as the majority owner of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club, but he reached a number of other milestones worthy of recognition. On Feb. 12, 2023, Lerner passed away at the age of 97. Here’s a look back at his life, net worth, and how his family reached billionaire status.

How did Ted Lerner make his money?

Lerner wasn't only a proud owner of an MLB team, but his family also owns Lerner Enterprises, which he founded in 1952. Lerner Enterprises develops and invests in real estate projects of all types including commercial, retail, and residential, some of which are located in the Washington metropolitan area. Some of the company’s high-profile projects include Wheaton Plaza, Tysons II, Washington Square, Dulles Town Center, and White Flint.

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Theodore Nathan Lerner

Real estate developer and MLB team owner

Net worth: $6.6 billion

When Ted Lerner wasn’t handling business with Lerner Enterprises or his MLB team, he served as a philanthropist who founded The Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation which supported a wide range of organizations and focused heavily on Judaism and education.

Born: Oct. 25, 1925

Died: Feb. 12, 2023

Birthplace: Washington D.C.

Education: Graduated from George Washington University

Received a law degree from the George Washington University National Law Center

Spouse: Annette Lerner

Kids: 3

Lerner not only prides itself on its “willingness to embrace modern concepts and new technologies,” but it's also credited for “transforming and defining the landscape of metropolitan Washington.” Because Lerner’s business dealings were kept within the family, his net worth is lumped together with his loved ones and is estimated to be around $6.6 billion, according to Forbes.

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How did Ted Lerner first get into real estate?

Lerner was born on Oct. 15, 1925, in Washington D.C. to emigrant parents Mayer and Ethel. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family along with his two siblings. During his early years, Lerner worked as an usher in Griffith Stadium and later gained interest in real estate while attending George Washington University Law School in 1949.

In his early twenties, Lerner worked 18-hour days pursuing bankers for loans he could put toward building houses, the Washingtonian noted. But, after his wife — Annette Lerner, who he married in 1951 — forked over $250, he used that to start Lerner Enterprises in Rockville, Md. From there, the company blossomed into a leading real estate developer in Washington D.C. and Maryland

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Lerner’s first project was an indoor mall called Wheaton Plaza. The plaza, which was built in February 1960, still stands today though it was renamed Westfield Wheaton.

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What does Lerner Enterprises own today?

Lerner Enterprises carries quite a diversified portfolio. Some of the properties it currently owns or is partnered with include:

  • 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard (Rockville, Md.)
  • Washington Square (Washington D.C.)
  • Fallsgrove Plaza (Rockville, Md.)
  • Lerner Parc at Gatlin Common (Port St. Lucie, Fla.)
  • Motion at Dadeland (Miami, Fla.)
  • Annapolis Harbour Center (Annapolis, Md.)
  • 20 M Street (Washington D.C.)
  • Chelsea Piers (New York City)

How much did Ted Lerner pay for the Washington Nationals?

After experiencing great success with his real estate business, Lerner, who also happened to be a lifelong baseball fan, purchased the Washington Nationals for $450 million on May 3, 2006. While Lerner managed to make many of his dreams come true, his long and successful life came to an end on Feb. 12, 2023, after experiencing complications from pneumonia.

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