John Oliver Explains How Wealthy Sports Teams Are Scamming Taxpayers


Every year, American cities across the country spend billions of dollar in public money in order to build shiny new sports stadiums we probably don’t need. As John Oliver explained on the latest Last Week Tonight, these stadiums are increasingly designed to look like “coked-up Willy Wonka” coliseums with expensive features like swimming pools and party cabanas.

“We don’t just help teams build stadiums, we let them keep virtually all the revenue those stadiums produce,” Oliver said on Sunday.

The segment goes onto show, stadium financing often hurts the local economy and surrounding businesses, even blocking cities from paying for crucial things like hospitals—all this as wealthy stadium owners only get richer with empty promises of economic growth.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have giant aquariums in ballparks full of terrified fish. Of course we should, this is America! If we don’t have them, no one else will! But we should not be using public money to pay for them.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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