NFL and NBA Teams Up For Grabs In Messy Inheritance Battle

By on March 20, 2018

March 20, 2018

Before Tom Benson died on March 15th he’d made it clear that he intended to leave his most cherished assets, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, to his third wife, Gayle Benson. Both leagues have approved the ownership transfer. But a fight over Benson’s fortune, an estimated $3 billion, seems inevitable. In 2015, Benson, then 87, made a public announcement that he had disowned his granddaughter Rita LeBlanc, who had been groomed since childhood to lead the teams. He also disowned LeBlanc’s brother, Ryan, and their mother Renee Benson. He said he would leave his auto dealerships, real estate, and bank holdings, along with the professional sports franchises, to his third wife, Gayle Benson, whom he married in 2004. Court documents filed in connection with his decision included a letter he’d sent to the disowned parties, stating that since he’d married his third wife they had become “offensive” and “did not act in an appropriate manner,” causing him “heartbreak.” They, in turn, filed a lawsuit claiming that Benson was mentally unfit to manage his own affairs and that his third wife was controlling him with the help of an inner circle of New Orleans Saints executives.
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