trump kraft
Donald Trump (left) has a warm relationship with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but a strained history with the NFL. Getty

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is quick to tout his business acumen and has often proclaimed himself “a winner.” While Trump has had his share of successes, in an interview over 32 years ago he made an assertion about a certain NFL team that has since blown up in his face.

“In my opinion, only a loser can buy the Dallas Cowboys,” Trump told CBS Sports in 1984.

“The Dallas Cowboys have been so good [for] so long—and the expectation level has been high and will continue to be so high—that if the Dallas Cowboys become just a good team, or [an] above average team, the man who owns that team is going to be called a ‘loser.’”

In March 1984, Harvey “Bum” Bright and 11 other business partners purchased the Cowboys for roughly $85 million, a record sum for an NFL team. It was later sold to Jerry Jones in 1989 for roughly $140 million, giving Bright and his partners a hefty return of 64 percent on their investment.

While Bright and his partners probably didn’t feel like “losers” for their huge windfall after five years, Jones is stronger proof of how Trump really got it wrong.

Jones remains the owner of the Cowboys, which is the world’s most valuable sports franchise at $4 billion. According to an inflation calculator, Jones’ $140 million investment would be $272.14 million in today’s currency, so his investment has netted a staggering return of 1,400 percent. The Cowboys have won three Super Bowls and own a 230-202 record (.532 winning percentage) under Jones, who has an estimated net worth of $5 billion.

The league has fared well with Jones owning “America’s Team.” Jones is considered the league’s most influential owner, having played an instrumental role in the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, and helping launch mega-broadcast deals which dramatically increased the league’s profitability. AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys’ home since 2009, is considered among the most luxurious venues in the country.

Could Trump have afforded the Cowboys in 1984? According to reports at the time the answer is probably yes. The New York Times cited that “the Trump Organization controlled assets worth about $1 billion” in 1983. The CBS Sports report claimed that Trump was worth more than $1.5 billion, while Forbes claimed that Trump had an estimated fortune of $600 million in 1985.

But it’s unclear if Trump could have been approved by the league even if he pursued the Cowboys. In order to finalize a sale, 21 of the 27 other owners needed approval, and Trump probably knew he didn’t have a chance to purchase the Cowboys or any team.

While countless other wealthy entrepreneurs passed on the Cowboys, Trump was probably the only one on record to openly denounce the prospect of purchasing the club. It seems that Trump’s comments about the Cowboys can be regarded as sour grapes.

He conducted the interview with CBS while owning the New Jersey Generals of the short-lived United States Football League. Trump, who had purchased the Generals for roughly $9 million from J. Walter Duncan, may have hoped to one day find his way into the NFL by way of a merger with the USFL, which was the speculation at the time. However, the league folded after the 1985 season.

Trump has maintained a long and contentious relationship with the NFL. In 1986, he was among the USFL owners who went to court against the NFL in an antitrust suit. In 2014, Trump openly discussed how he gladly missed out on purchasing the Buffalo Bills, a club that was sold for $1.4 billion.