Red McCombs

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Red McCombs
Born (1927-10-19) October 19, 1927 (age 88)
Spur, Dickens County
Texas, USA
Occupation Businessman
Net worth US$1.85 billion (as of December 2014)[1]
Spouse(s) Charline Hamblin McCombs (married 1950)

Three children

John Shields (son-in-law)

Billy Joe McCombs, known as Red McCombs (born October 19, 1927),[2] is the billionaire founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group in San Antonio, Texas, a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, chairman of Constellis Group, a former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, and the Minnesota Vikings, and the namesake of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He is on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans. He is also known for his philanthropy.

In 2012, the San Antonio Express-News reported McCombs' net worth at $1.4 billion. He was ranked the 913th richest man in the world. Two other San Antonio men, Charles Butt of the H-E-B supermarket chain and Rodney Lewis, a natural gas driller, were placed above McCombs on the list.[3]


McCombs was born in rural Spur in Dickens County in West Texas.[4] His nickname "Red" comes from his hair color.[5] His father was a mechanic who earned $25 per week but tithed to the First Baptist Church of Spur each week. McCombs recalled having seen his parents "share with those who had less, and the joy of giving never ceased to amaze me."[6]

McCombs briefly attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where he played football (lineman and receiver) until service from 1946 to 1947 in the United States Army. After completing his Army stint, McCombs enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, attending the business school and law school. While at the University of Texas, McCombs was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. In 1950, he married his wife, the former Charline Hamblin. In the early 1950s, McCombs left college to begin selling at George Jones Ford in Corpus Christi. In 1958, he and his fellow salesman, Austin Hemphill, moved to San Antonio to create Hemphill-McCombs Ford, which was the foundation for what ultimately became the Red McCombs Automotive Group.

McCombs entered the energy industry in the 1960s. He formed the Houston-based McCombs Energy. He has also been involved in real through the Koontz-McCombs development company. In 1972, McCombs partnered with Lowry Mays to purchase WOAI radio in San Antonio. The station was the launching point for Clear Channel Communications.

He has previously served as chairman of the trustees at Southwestern University and chairman of the University of Texas's M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His particular interest in M. D. Anderson was accentuated in 1986, when he visited a dying friend undergoing treatment there. He expressed how he was overcome by the kindness of every employee me met at the hospital. The workers, he found, had been trained to offer compassion and solace to all who come through the doors. He joined the Anderson board and in 2005 donated $30 million to the hospital.[6] The business school at the University of Texas was renamed the Red McCombs School of Business in recognition of his $50 million donation to the institution. The $50 million actually yielded $100 million in matching funds for new faculty positions, fellowships, and scholarships.[6]

McCombs is the recipient of the Texas Legend Award from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association and the Living Legend award from the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce. He has also been honored by the American Academy of Achievement, San Antonio Business Hall of Fame, San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Business Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame. He has received honorary degrees from Southwestern University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas Lutheran University. He also sits in the board of eCommerce firm Cinsay Inc..

He is the board chairman of Academi.[7]

McCombs is an influential member of the Alamo Endowment Board, which raises funds for the preservation and management of the Alamo Mission in downtown San Antonio. With the state purchasing three historic buildings in Alamo Plaza, McCombs said in October 2015 that he envisions an expansion program consistent with the reality of the Alamo story to enhance the overall experience of future visitors to the historic site.[8]

The McCombs Foundation has donated more than $118 million to charity. It is operated by his daughters who work to keep overhead at a minimum. The foundation makes small donations too, such as $1,000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which are rarely publicized. McCombs said that he is a large donor to charitable causes because "it makes me feel so good about doing it."[6]

Sports ownership[edit]

McCombs' first entry into sports came in 1972, when he joined Angelo Drossos and several other San Antonio businessmen in leasing the struggling Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association and moving them to San Antonio as the Spurs. The Spurs proved to be a runaway hit, leading Drossos and McCombs to tear up the lease agreement and buy the team outright after only one year.

Two years after taking the Spurs into the NBA, McCombs sold off his stake in the Spurs and bought another former ABA team, the Denver Nuggets. He held onto the team until 1985. In 1988, he bought controlling interest in the Spurs from Drossos, selling them to current owner Peter Holt in 1993.

In 1998, McCombs bought the Minnesota Vikings for US$250 million. After an unsuccessful attempt to replace the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, McCombs sold the team to new (and current) owner Zygi Wilf before the 2005 football season.[9]

McCombs was also actively involved in thoroughbred racing and breeding for many years as a major partner in Walmac Farm, a leading American breeding farm, in Lexington, Kentucky.[10]


McCombs' Wolf Creek ski area in southern Colorado, a planned resort, has drawn opposition from environmentalists and surrounding communities. McCombs has been unsuccessful in his attempts to convince the United States Forest Service to permit the development to begin.[11] McCombs then attempted to build a 50,000-acre (200 km2) casino resort at Navajo Canyon on Lake Powell. The local Navajo Nation chapters, local government officials, all unanimously rejected the casino proposal and any projects by Red McCombs.[12]

McCombs severely criticized the 2014 University of Texas hire of Charlie Strong as football coach. He described Strong as "great position coach ... not on a par with other candidates."[13] Three days later he apologized, and pledged "total support" for Strong.[14]

In 2013, McCombs was found by the United States Supreme Court to have engaged in a sham tax avoidance transaction and was therefore liable for a valuation mistatement penalty.[15][16]

Formula One[edit]

On July 27, 2010, McCombs announced his financial backing for bringing Formula One to the capital city of Austin, Texas. A new Formula 1 track was built in southeastern Travis County to host the event under a ten-year contract from 2012 to 2021. The first Formula One Race was held on November 18, 2012; the victor was the Briton Lewis Hamilton.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Six Antonio billionaires make Forbes list," San Antonio Express-News, March 18, 2012, "Glance" section, p. 3
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ NSIDE Business. Nside Sa. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  6. ^ a b c d John Tedesco, "McCombs makes a lot and donates a lot", San Antonio Express-News, November 26, 2015
  7. ^ Academi Board of Directors
  8. ^ Scott Huddleston and Benjamin Olivo, "Next chapter in Alamo history now is waiting to be written: What buildings' purchase by state means still is to be seen", San Antonio Express-News, October 11, 2015
  9. ^ "L.A. story". CNN. 2004-10-27. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  10. ^ Crist, Steven (1988-06-25). "HORSE RACING; Risen Star Likely To Retire After '88". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Kohler, Judith (2008-02-21). "Forest Service calls Wolf Creek deal a 'fresh start'". Denver Post. 
  12. ^ [2][dead link]
  13. ^ A kick in the face, 2014-01-07
  14. ^ "Total Support", 2014-01-10
  15. ^
  16. ^

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