In the Mojave desert, in the brilliant and attractive Vegas, where water is rationed and the police ensures that the schedule is followed to the letter, even ice can be turned into a successful business. And we’re not talking about the ice cubes chilling a cocktail or a glass of whiskey in a casino or at a club or a show; we’re talking about ice… at an ice ring.
And since Vegas is a show, hockey and the players are in the lime light, on the professional stage. The one who set such an ample business in motion is William Foley II, Bill for his friends, a lawyer specialized in financial services. Therefore, for two years now, the Vegas Golden Knights are in the NHL, alongside famous teams such as the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings. And they’re not just in, they’re honorably in, as the Knights have progressed to the professional championship final (the Stanley Cup) in their debut season, which they lost 1-4 against the Washington Capitals, finishing 3rd in the following season.
A civil life with a GI spirit
Bill Foley was born into a family of farmers, in Texas. He moved to Ottawa, where his father, who was an employee of the US Army, was relocated. It was the moment young Bill felt the hockey fever, a sport that he even played on the street, the so-called shinny. He went to West Point Military Academy, and after 4 years, he graduated in 1967 with a military engineer diploma, and USD 40,000 in his pocket, money he earned on the stock market, in his free time. After that, he worked for the US Air Force and, due to his expertise, he ended up being a part of the team negotiating the contracts for the Boeing acquisitions. However, the GI life was not to his liking and he left the army with the rank of Captain. He got a master’s degree from the University of Seattle, and subsequently turned to corporative law, after having finished his specialized studies at the University of Washington.
Later on, he bought and revitalized an insurance company, Fidelity National Financial – which reached the 30th place in the successful management top, and subsequently invested in wine-making, golf courses, hotels, ski resorts, Texan-cuisine restaurants, fast-food restaurants and auto parts producers.
Subsequently, he held the position of president of the board of administrators of the Black Knight Financial Services and the vice-president position within the board of administrators of Fidelity National Information Services Inc.
The ambition of being one of the best
He is the primary investor of Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, the consortium that funds the ice hockey team Vegas Golden Knights, which has been part of the famous NFL since 2017. It has not been easy, as his team and himself were required to prove to the NFL management that hockey can make it in the desert. Therefore, they made many visits to hospitals, police stations, fire stations, so as to, finally, be able to announce that they can count on 14,000 tickets sold, per season, and as such, they could get their license.
Initially, billionaire Foley wanted to name the team Black Knights as an homage to the army, however, this name belongs to the athletic teams of the Military Academy. Foley has always claimed that the “Knight is the symbol of the Warrior class”. He would have liked to at least name the team the Vegas Knights, but this wasn’t possible either, as the name Knights belonged to the Canadians from London. He succeeded in making his team a true family, and his military spirit imposed discipline and self-respect as the primary principles of success.
From ecstasy to agony
Unfortunately for Bill Foley, life has not been a long string of successes. Although life brought him success, it also threw him into agony. The year his team made history getting into the NHL, the billionaire went through a tragedy – he had to say goodbye to his son, Patrick Foley. “I should have died, not him”, “Why not me?”, that’s all the billionaire could say.
Viticulture, a successful passion
Because he hasn’t forgotten his farmer origin, Foley has become one of the greatest viticulturist in America. His family’s wine making factory holds a production line in Healsburg and the Sebastiani vineyards in Sonioma. According to the Foley Family Wines official website, the brands list contains several tens of names.
Moreover, Foley recently bought a property worth USD 46 million in Hawaii, which is almost 7 hectares on the ocean shore. His neighbor is Mark Zuckerberg, who bought a nearly 300 hectares property close by in Kauai for only half a million dollars.
Involvement in charity works
Foley also dedicates part of his time to many educational and community organizations. Currently, he is a member of the advisory council of the Washington Law School, institution which he graduated, and also holds the same position within the Wolfonson Children’s Hospital forum. Concurrently, the Vegas Golden Knights team funder is involved in California’s Chapman Law School’s activity, both as member of the Deanship’s Council and as president of the Court of Law, in Law and Taxation.
In 1997, Bill Foley was elected Business Man of the Year by the Orange District in California. He was also decorated with the Semper Fidelis title by the “Marine Corps Foundation” for his honor, courage and commitment to the US Army. In 2006, he entered the Hall of Fame of the Florida Economic Education Council. At the present time, Bill Foley lives with his wife in North California. They are known as active philanthropists, who work to support veterans and children’s education.