Alex Spanos was an American billionaire real estate developer, founder of the A. G. Spanos Companies, and the majority owner of the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL).
In his early years, Alex Spanos worked night and day, seven days a week in his father’s bakery. His growing family was struggling to make ends meet on $40 a week. In 1951, at the age of 27, the time came for Spanos to make the toughest business decision of his life – to stay in the family business or strike out on his own.
More than 50 years later, Spanos has transformed an $800 loan into one of the leading real estate and development companies in the building industry. As the founder and chairman of A.G. Spanos Companies, the nation’s largest family-owned construction company, his commitment to quality and integrity are imprinted in the daily operation and management of the eight companies that are wholly owned and managed by the Spanos family as well as the Chargers.
The success of the A.G. Spanos Companies has allowed him to pursue many dreams, including owning a National Football League team.
“I always believed in the pursuit of one’s dreams,” Spanos said in announcing his intention to buy the team. “For me, it has been a lifelong goal to own an NFL team. In buying the San Diego Chargers, I’ve been able to realize a dream.” On Aug. 1, 1984, the dream became reality.
“My greatest success story
has been my family.”
Was Alex Spanos Greek?
Yes, he was. Both his parents were Greek immigrants. Spanos was born in Stockton, California to a Greek family, the son of Greek immigrants, Constantino and Evanthia Spanos. His father owned a bakery where the young Spanos started working at the age of eight.
In his own words:
“Nothing was easy, but I was determined. I worked for three years from 1948 till 1951 for 40 dollars a week. Never had a day off. I went to my dad. I said “Dad I cannot live on 40 dollars a week. Please give me a raise to 75 dollars.”
Well, Gus Spanos wouldn’t give his son the raise, so 27-year-old Alex left, and began selling lunches to migrant farm workers. He says his dad’s response to his request was the biggest motivating factor in his life.
“I said ‘dad I quit’ and in Greek. He looked at me and said you’re gonna quit. You’re gonna come back here crawling on your hands and knees for this job. I looked at my father and I said ‘Dad if I have to come back here on my hands and knees for this job, I’ll go out and buy a gun and blow my brains out.”