In May of 2021, it was announced that Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became an invester in the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. In those 13 months, a lot of changed. For the world, for Ovechkin, and for the Spirit.
According to Sportico, despite the public announcement, Ovechkin never actually invested and only a verbal agreement was made for him to invest at a valuation of $13 million. At the time, the Stanley Cup Playoffs started a few days after the announcement so it’s probably not the best move to make a big investment decision at that time. And then soon after, an abuse scandal on then head coach Richie Burke and allegations of an “old boys culture” within the team resulted in a battle to get majority owner Steve Baldwin to sell.
Minority owner Michelle Kang, who many wanted to takeover the team and offered way more than anyone else, ultimately won out in buying the team for $35 million. Since Kang became majority owner, the focus for the Spirit has been to right the wrongs and improve the team culture.
So it may have been a blessing in disguise for the Spirit that Ovechkin never made it official with his investment given his close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. While Ovechkin hasn’t been sanctioned, his involvement with the team while a good friend of his is invading Ukraine, would’ve been more bad PR that the Spirit and the NWSL doesn’t really need right now.