Birthday: September 28, 1923
Died At Age: 95
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Alexander Gus Spanos
Born Country: United States
Born in: Stockton, California, United States
Famous as: Real Estate Developer
Spouse/Ex-: Faye Spanos, Faye Spanos (m. 1948–2018)
father: Constantinos Spanos
mother: Evanthia Spanos
siblings: Dionysios, Dionysios "Danny" Spanos, George Spanos, Leo Spanos, Madeline Spanos Madsen, Stella Spanos Graham
children: Alexis Spanos Ruhl, Dea Spanos Berberian, Dean Spanos, Michael Spanos
Died on: October 9, 2018
U.S. State: California
Who was Alex Spanos?
Alex Spanos was an American billionaire who primarily worked as a real-estate developer and founded ‘A.G. Spanos Companies.’ Born and raised in Stockton, California, Alex was from a middle-class Greek family. His father owned a small bakery. However, he grew up in troubled circumstances, as his parents were constantly fighting. Alex was still a kid when his mother took him away from his father. However, when Alex pushed her, she decided to go back to her husband. It was all good after that. Alex thus became determined to give his children a better life and graduated from the ‘University of the Pacific.’ Always interested in entrepreneurship instead of a regular job, he began his own business of selling sandwiches to migrant farm workers in 1951. By the mid-1950s, he had enough money to invest in real estate. Thus, his profits soared. This was further enhanced when he founded ‘A. G. Spanos Companies’ in 1960 and eventually became one of the richest people in the country. He also happened to be the owner of the majority of shares in the ‘Los Angeles Chargers’ (then known as the ‘San Diego Chargers’) of the ‘National Football League’ (NFL).
Childhood & Early Life
Alex Spanos was born Alexander Gus Spanos, in Stockton, California, on September 28, 1923, to Evanthia and Constantinos Spanos. His parents were Greek migrants. His father owned a bakery in their hometown, while his mother was a homemaker. Alex grew up in a middle-class family with five siblings. Making ends meet and feeding a big family was always a struggle for his parents.
This led to a tense environment in the family, with his mother and father fighting most of the time. When Alex was still a kid, his mother took two of her kids with her to a different city and separated from his father for 2 years. However, Alex managed to persuade his parents to live together. They stayed together until his father’s death.
Having grown up amidst these circumstances, Alex had made up his mind about his future. He wanted to lead a comfortable life and wished the same for his children. Hence, his ambitions grew as a teenager. He had already started working in his father’s bakery by the time he was 8 years old.
Following his high-school graduation, he enrolled at the ‘California Polytechnic School.’ Noticing it was doing him no good, he dropped out later. He later opted for ‘Army Air Force’ training and served in World War II as a tail gunner.
He then joined the ‘University of the Pacific’ in Stockton. He also excelled in sports such as diving and swimming in college and also played as an amateur golfer.
Following his college graduation, he continued working in his father’s bakery. He started his own business in 1951, when he was 28 years old.
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When he decided to start a business of his own, he was already married and had two children. He was unable to provide a stable life to his family, as he was only making $40 a week, working in his father’s bakery. He thought of a business model and borrowed $800 from a local banker. He purchased a truck and started the business of selling sandwiches to Mexican farm workers who worked in the San Joaquin Valley.
This was a humble beginning for Alex, but soon, his business grew, as he adopted a business-minded approach. Within the first few years of beginning his own business (by 1955), he made his first million dollars.
By then, he had learned quite a lot of things about business and he invested the money in the real-estate sector. He hired tax accountants to guide him through the process and began building apartments. He had researched thoroughly and had come to know that the real-estate business was about to go through a boom. When it did, Alex was one of the first ones to benefit from it.
He worked independently for the next few years. In 1960, he founded his own real-estate company, ‘A.G. Spanos Companies.’ Within the next one-and-a-half decade, it became the biggest apartment builder in the entire country. The company based its operations in Stockton and Alex and launched 10 subsidiaries.
After becoming one of the country’s top businessmen in the real-estate sector, Alex looked at other sectors of investment and zeroed in on sports. In 1984, he bought 60 percent shares in the ‘San Diego Chargers’ of the ‘NFL’ from Eugene Klein, for $48.3 million. The team was later renamed the ‘Los Angeles Chargers.’
Over the next few years, he purchased shares from many small owners, and by the mid-1990s, he had bought close to 97 percent shares in the team. Famous restaurateur George Pernicano held the rest of the 3 percent of shares, until his death in 2016.
However, in 1993, Alex handed over the operations of the franchise team to his son, Dean. The current net worth of the team is more than $2 billion.
After a huge demand, he wrote and published his own autobiography, ‘Sharing the Wealth: My Story.’ The book mentioned all about Alex’s struggle from being a middle-class man to turning one of the richest men in the US.
Alex was also known as a generous philanthropist. He donated half a million dollars for the renovation of the ‘Fox Theatre’ in his hometown, Stockton. He had also donated money for the construction of a playground in the ‘Lincoln High School’ in his hometown.
He also lent strong financial support to George W. Bush when he ran for president for the second time, in 2004.
Alex was honored with a place in the ‘California Building Industry Hall of Fame’ in 2005. Additionally, he had also been a recipient of the ‘AHEPA Award.’
Personal Life & Death
Alex Spanos married Faye Papafaklis in 1948. The couple had four children. Alex gave his wife the credit for his success, and they stayed together until her death on August 7, 2018.
Alex underwent chemotherapy for colon cancer and a heart bypass surgery at the ‘Sacramento Mercy General Hospital.’ He later donated $10 million for a state-of-the-art heart center at the hospital.
He suffered from dementia during the last few years of his life. He passed away from complications from the ailment on October 9, 2018, at the age of 95.