Businessman Wes Edens is an alumnus of Oregon State University. He joined the financial industry after graduating, working for short periods at Merrill Lynch, California and Loan, and Smith Barney. He became an executive at Lehman Brothers in 1987. He also worked for Blackrock Financial Management before co-founding Fortress Investment Group in 1998. Wes Edens became a billionaire in 2007 due to his investment company holding an initial public offering. Fortress Investment Group has hedge funds, debt securities, and real estate among its investments. When it went public it instantly became the biggest private equity company in America to be publicly traded.
He used his financial status to enter the world of sports. In 2014, Wes Edens and Mark Lasry bought the Milwaukee Bucks from Herb Kohl for $550 million. He agreed to keep the team in Milwaukee and to spend $100 million building it a new arena. This was a highly successful purchase as the team is now estimated to have a value of $1.4 billion. He also has his majority stake in an English football club, Aston Villa. Wes Edens enjoys horse riding and mountain climbing. He’s had some close calls in both activities. He almost fell off Wyoming’s Pingora Peak and would have fallen to his death but caught a rope just in time. Over the past eight years, he’s fallen off his horse during equestrian events three times.
These resulted in surgeries for a broken arm, herniated disc and a torn tendon in one hand. Over the past several years, he has donated somewhere around $2.7 million to his charitable causes. He is known to have donated $700,000 to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and $1,000,000 to Macalester College. He also gave $200,000 to GiveWell. He is a trustee of the Chinook Charitable Trust and has directed $90,000 through it to health and education nonprofits. He became a big name in the subprime lending industry in 2010 when he bought 80 percent of Springleaf Financial Services. He bought the company for $125 million and it is now worth $3.5 billion. He has been dubbed the “new king of subprime lending” by others in the business world.