Jorge Vergara, the billionaire owner of the Mexican soccer club Chivas, died Friday after suffering a heart attack in New York City. He was 64.
“With deep sadness and pain in my heart, I communicate to you that my father, Jorge Carlos Vergara Madrigal, passed from this life due to cardiac failure,” Vergara’s son, Amaury, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
“We honor my father the way he always taught us with his example: working day in and day out, taking care of others and reaching our dreams.”
Vergara acquired the Guadalajara soccer franchise in 2002 and built it into one of the country’s most popular teams, securing a championship win in Mexico’s Apertura league in 2006.
The animated owner was also a controversial figure in the soccer arena. He switched the team’s coaches 28 times in 17 years and earned comparisons to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He was a fierce nationalist, and once insisted all team business be conducted in Spanish.
Vergara also launched Chivas USA in 2005, but that team’s success waned in recent years. Chivas USA averaged less than eight wins in each of the last five seasons, before Major League Soccer bought out the franchise and resold the rights to a California company.
Vergara also owned the Costa Rican team Saprissa from 2003-2011, and a wildly profitable supplement company, Omnilife, which claims sales of $4.2 billion annually. His net worth was reportedly about $1.5 billion at the time of his death.
Vergara is survived by six children and his second wife of two years, Rossana Lerdo de Tejada.