Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin agreed to invest in the Washington Spirit, the National Women’s Soccer League club that in February strengthened its ownership group by adding several other famous stakeholders with D.C. ties.
The Spirit’s primary owners are business executives Steve Baldwin, Y. Michele Kang and Bill Lynch.
The level of Ovechkin’s investment was not disclosed, but a person close to the deal said he is in the top half of the new investors.
Ovechkin’s entry, first reported by ESPN and confirmed by Baldwin, brings another big-name investor to the NWSL, joining tennis star Naomi Osaka (North Carolina Courage), and actors Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain and tennis icon Serena Williams, who joined Angel City FC, a 2022 expansion team in Los Angeles.
The Spirit said it will formally welcome Ovechkin during a media event Monday. The team, a person close to the organization said, also will add Michelle Freeman, a minority partner at Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, and Paxton Baker, a Washington Nationals minority owner.
“I think it’s important to support women and women’s professional athletes — not just in the United States but all over the world,” Ovechkin told ESPN. “It was also important for me to support the D.C. community.”
Ovechkin’s mother, Tatyana, won two Olympic gold medals playing basketball for Russia. His father, Mikhail, played soccer. Alex Ovechkin has attended D.C. United matches at Audi Field.
The Spirit will begin its ninth season May 16 in Orlando. After playing primarily at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County, the team this year will host seven regular season matches at Audi Field and five at Segra Field in Leesburg.
In the NWSL Challenge Cup, a preseason tournament this spring, the Spirit played twice at Audi Field. Spectators were not permitted at the first match, and 2,039 (out of a maximum 4,500) attended the second game.
The regular season home opener is May 26 against the Houston Dash at Segra Field. The first match at Audi Field is June 6 against Orlando.
Notes: Forward Tara McKeown, the eighth overall pick in the NWSL draft in January, reached a contract agreement after completing her senior season this spring at Southern California, a person familiar with the deal said.
She had eight goals and eight assists in 14 matches for the Trojans, who lost to Mississippi in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Spirit’s other first-round pick, Washington State forward Trinity Rodman, joined the team right away.