What is Tilman Fertitta’s Net Worth?
Tilman Fertitta is an American billionaire businessman and television personality who has a net worth of $9 billion. Tilman Fertitta serves as the CEO, chairman, and owner of Landry’s, Inc., and is the owner of the NBA team the Houston Rockets. On television, Fertitta starred in the CNBC reality series “Billion Dollar Buyer.
Tilman’s third cousins are former UFC owners Frank Fertitta and Lorenzo Fertitta. In September 2017, it was revealed that Tilman Fertitta had agreed to buy the Houston Rockets from Leslie Alexander for $2.2 billion. That was a record price paid for an NBA team at the time. Today the Rockets are worth $4.4 billion. Tilman attempted to buy the Rockets for $81 million in 1991. He lost out to Leslie Alexander who won the deal with an offer of $85 million. Tilman is a former minority owner of the Houston Texans. Interestingly, due to league gambling rules, bettors at Tilman’s casinos will NOT be allowed to wager on Houston Rockets games.
Early Life and Education
Tilman Fertitta was born in 1957 in Galveston, Texas. His father, Vic, owned a seafood restaurant on Galveston Island. For his higher education, Fertitta attended Texas Tech University and the University of Houston. He studied business administration and hospitality management, but never graduated.
Fertitta began his business career hawking Shaklee vitamins. In the 1980s, he founded and ran a construction and development company, through which he developed the Key Largo Hotel in Galveston.
In 1980, Fertitta was a partner in the first Landry’s restaurant, Landry’s Seafood, which opened in Katy, Texas. The next year, he helped open Willie G’s Seafood & Steaks in Houston. In late 1986, Fertitta acquired controlling interests in both restaurants, and became the CEO of Landry’s. He took the company public in 1993 and began significant expansion. Throughout the decade, Landry’s developed and acquired not only other restaurants, but also entertainment, gaming, and hospitality businesses. In 1996, the company purchased the 32-acre San Luis Resort on Galveston Island, and in 1998 developed the Kemah Boardwalk, a theme park. Landry’s continued to expand in the 2000s, with acquisitions including Rainforest Cafe, Saltgrass Steak House, Muer Restaurants, Golden Nugget Hotel & Casinos, and the Hilton Galveston Island Resort. In 2003, the company opened the Downtown Aquarium, an entertainment complex in Houston.
In 2010, Landry’s acquired three new restaurant chains: Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Claim Jumper, and the Oceanaire. The company added two more restaurants to its portfolio the next year: McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants and Morton’s The Steakhouse. In 2012, Landry’s opened the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. Later in the decade, the company acquired B.R. Guest, Restaurants Unlimited, and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak Houses. Landry’s also re-acquired Joe’s Crab Shack, which it had sold in 2006. Meanwhile, the company began developing and acquiring a collection of restaurants called Landry’s Signature Group; the collection includes Grotto, Brenner’s Steakhouse, La Griglia, and Vic & Anthony’s. Among Landry’s many other properties are the Post Oak Hotel & Tower in Houston and the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio.
Sports Team Ownership
In 1999, Fertitta was one of the original investors in creating the NFL team the Houston Texans. He remained a partner of Texans owner Bob McNair until selling his interest in 2008. Later, in 2017, Fertitta acquired the NBA team the Houston Rockets for an NBA record of $2.2 billion. Through the purchase, he also became the owner of the professional esports organization Clutch Gaming.
Billion Dollar Buyer
Fertitta was the star of his own reality television series, “Billion Dollar Buyer,” which premiered in 2016 on CNBC. Each episode of the show focused on Fertitta as he traveled the United States sampling new hospitality products he could potentially use for his Landry’s properties. Meeting with owners of small businesses, he would determine if their wares would be compatible with his company, and if so, he offered them a deal. “Billion Dollar Buyer” ran for three seasons until 2018.
Fertitta sits on a number of boards in the Houston area. He serves as chairman of the board of the Houston Children’s Charity, and sits on the board of regents of the University of Houston System. Fertitta is also a board member of the Texas Heart Institute, the Greater Houston Partnership, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Fertitta’s philanthropy has largely been focused on the University of Houston. In 2016, he donated $20 million to the school to rebuild Hofheinz Pavilion, a multipurpose arena that was renamed the Fertitta Center. Later, in 2022, he donated $50 million to the university’s medical school, which was subsequently renamed the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine.
In 1991, Fertitta married Paige Farwell, with whom he had four children before getting divorced. He later wed attorney Lauren Ware.
Fertitta published a book, “Shut Up and Listen! Hard Business Truths That Will Help You Succeed,” in 2019. The book relays his business journey and offers advice to entrepreneurs.