Longtime Utah Jazz owners sell NBA team to local software entrepreneur for '$1.7BILLION' 34 years after buying a controlling stake for $26.8 million

 The Miller family, the longtime owners of the Utah Jazz, have agreed to sell the NBA franchise to local software entrepreneur Ryan Smith for a reported $1.7 billion.

ESPN reported the selling price Tuesday, which has not yet been confirmed. A team spokesperson did not immediately respond to the Daily Mail's request for confirmation. 

Smith, 40, is a longtime Jazz fan who started the company Qualtrics and later sold it for a reported $8 billion.   


The Jazz sale still needs to be approved by the NBA board of governors. 

The club was founded in New Orleans in 1974 and moved to Salt Lake City five years later. Larry and Gail Miller bought 50 percent of the team for $9.8 million in May 1985 to prevent it from leaving Utah. The following year, the Millers paid $17.3 million for the other 50 percent.  

Larry Miller passed away in 2009 at age 64 due to complications from diabetes. He earned his wealth through car dealerships and other businesses in the Salt Lake City area. 

Smith, 40, is a longtime Jazz fan who started the company Qualtrics and later sold it for a reported $8 billion
Gail Miller is prepared to sell the Utah Jazz to billionaire Ryan Smith for $1.7 billion

Gail Miller (right) has agreed to sell the Utah Jazz to billionaire Ryan Smith (left) for $1.7 billion. Smith, 40, is a longtime Jazz fan who sold his startup tech company for $8 billion 

The Jazz were founded in New Orleans in 1974 and moved to Salt Lake City five years later. Larry and Gail Miller (pictured in 2004) bought half the team for $9.8 million in May 1985 to prevent it from leaving Utah. The following year, the Millers paid $17.3 million for the other 50 percent. Larry Miller passed away in 2009 at age 64 due to complications from diabetes. He earned his wealth through car dealerships and other businesses in the Salt Lake City area

The Jazz were founded in New Orleans in 1974 and moved to Salt Lake City five years later. Larry and Gail Miller (pictured in 2004) bought half the team for $9.8 million in May 1985 to prevent it from leaving Utah. The following year, the Millers paid $17.3 million for the other 50 percent. Larry Miller passed away in 2009 at age 64 due to complications from diabetes. He earned his wealth through car dealerships and other businesses in the Salt Lake City area

This season Jazz center Rudy Gobert (right) became the first major professional athlete to test positive for COVID-19, prompting the NBA to suspend its season on March 11. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (left) was also found to be infected, but both players have since recovered

This season Jazz center Rudy Gobert (right) became the first major professional athlete to test positive for COVID-19, prompting the NBA to suspend its season on March 11. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (left) was also found to be infected, but both players have since recovered

The sale includes the majority interest in the NBA club, Vivint Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars of the G-League and management of the Triple-A baseball Salt Lake Bees.

The Miller family is retaining ownership of the Bees.

'Because of our friendship and several high-level conversations over the years, Ryan recently approached our organization to inquire about the possibility of purchasing the Utah Jazz and some of our other sports and entertainment properties,' Gail Miller said.


'After much soul searching, lengthy discussions and extensive evaluations of our long-term goals, my family and I decided this was the right time to pass our responsibility and cherished stewardship of 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values and are committed to keeping the team in Utah.

'We have every confidence they will continue the work we have undertaken and move the team to the next level. Our family remains invested in the success of the Utah Jazz and these businesses, and we will retain a minority interest.'

Karl Malone pictured with Larry Miller in 1999, before their relationship fractured

Karl Malone pictured with Larry Miller in 1999, before their relationship fractured 

Smith started Qualtrics in 2002 with his father and brother, then sold it last year but remains CEO. Qualtrics is the sponsor of the team's jersey patch, which reads 5 For The Fight instead of the company name.

Smith co-founded 5 For The Fight, which crowdfunds for cancer research by inviting everyone to donate $5. The cause has raised more than $25 million since the patch partnership began three years ago.

The deal is subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors, which is expected to take place by the end of the year. Upon closing of the transaction, Smith become the NBA governor for the team and will have the final say on all business and basketball operations decisions.

He also plans to acquire The Zone Sports Network from the Miller family in a separate transaction.

'The Miller family has had an unbelievable impact on countless people through the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they run,' Smith said. 'We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years. 

The late Miller was known to be particularly close with his players, and was seen crying when franchise legend John Stockton retired in 2003. 'You laced them up 1,504 times and you laid it all out there 1,504 times,' an emotional Miller said of Stockton. 'This is a day that we always knew would come but always hoped wouldn't'

The late Miller was known to be particularly close with his players, and was seen crying when franchise legend John Stockton retired in 2003. 'You laced them up 1,504 times and you laid it all out there 1,504 times,' an emotional Miller said of Stockton. 'This is a day that we always knew would come but always hoped wouldn't'

'My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future - especially with the greatest fans in the NBA. The Utah Jazz, the state of Utah, and its capital city are the beneficiaries of the Millers' tremendous love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.' 

The late Miller was known to be particularly close with his players, and was seen crying when franchise legend John Stockton retired in 2003.

'You laced them up 1,504 times and you laid it all out there 1,504 times,' an emotional Miller said of Stockton. 'This is a day that we always knew would come but always hoped wouldn't.'

In this April 14, 2010, file photo, Greg Miller, left, and Gail Miller, son and wife of the late Larry H. Miller, hug while looking up at the jersey that had been retired in the name of Larry H. Miller, at Energy Solutions Arena during halftime of an NBA basketball game

In this April 14, 2010, file photo, Greg Miller, left, and Gail Miller, son and wife of the late Larry H. Miller, hug while looking up at the jersey that had been retired in the name of Larry H. Miller, at Energy Solutions Arena during halftime of an NBA basketball game

However, Miller's relationship with NBA MVP Karl Malone became fractured after the Jazz superstar took signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004.

'I don't need Karl in my life,' Miller told reporters that season. 'I'm getting along just fine.'

Under coaches Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan, the Jazz reached the NBA playoffs in 20 consecutive seasons between 1983 and 2003, losing in the finals in back-to-back seasons to the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and '98.

They have made the playoffs the past four seasons, twice losing in the Western Conference semifinals.

This season Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first major professional athlete to test positive for COVID-19, prompting the NBA to suspend its season on March 11. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was also found to be infected, but both players have since recovered.

The Millers were high school sweethearts growing up in the Salt Lake City area. Gail Miller has five children and 21 grandchildren.

They have made the playoffs the past four seasons, twice losing in the Western Conference semifinals. In this picture from July they're seen playing in the league bubble in Florida

They have made the playoffs the past four seasons, twice losing in the Western Conference semifinals. In this picture from July they're seen playing in the league bubble in Florida 

Longtime Utah Jazz owners sell NBA team to local software entrepreneur for '$1.7BILLION' 34 years after buying a controlling stake for $26.8 million Longtime Utah Jazz owners sell NBA team to local software entrepreneur for '$1.7BILLION' 34 years after buying a controlling stake for $26.8 million Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 03:51 Rating: 5

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