Y. Michele Kang

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Y. Michele Kang
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Born1959 (age 64–65)
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
OccupationAmerican BusinessWoman

Yongmee Michele Kang[1][2] (born June 1959)[2] is an American businesswoman and sports team owner who is majority and controlling owner of professional women's soccer club Washington Spirit of Washington, D.C., which plays in the top-flight United States National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). She is also founder and CEO of Cognosante, a medical technology company,[3] and Cognosante Ventures, a venture capital firm.[1]

Early life

Kang was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States as a student. She holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in public and private management from the Yale School of Management.[4]


Washington Spirit

On December 29, 2020, Washington Spirit announced that Kang had joined the club's ownership group.[5] Later reports confirmed that the stake was 35 percent, equal to former majority owner Steve Baldwin's stake. Baldwin retained control over the team.[3]

Following Spirit coach Richie Burke removing himself from coaching duties in August 2021 and subsequent media reports alleging abusive behavior by Burke toward players, Kang began pursuing majority and controlling ownership of the club.[6][7] On October 14, 2021, Baldwin announced to club investors that he intended to sell the Spirit.[6] Kang had proposed purchasing the team at a $21 million valuation in November 2021, then raised her offer to a $35 million valuation in December 2021, both values that were at the time unprecedented for a NWSL club.[3][6][8] Other bidders for the club included Todd Boehly, who offered to buy the club at a $25 million valuation.[9][10]

During the negotiations, the Spirit won the 2021 NWSL championship on November 20, 2021, defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2–1.[11]

On February 8, 2022, the Spirit announced that Baldwin and minority owner Bill Lynch had agreed to sell the club to Kang.[7] Following league approvals, Kang officially became majority owner of the Spirit on March 30, 2022.[12][13] Kang became the first woman of color to be the majority owner of an NWSL club.[6] After failing to purchase the Spirit, Boehly purchased Chelsea F.C. in May 2022.[10]

Olympique Lyonnais

On March 22, 2023, Kang was named as a director of Eagle Football Holdings Limited, joining French Ligue 1 and D1 Arkema club Olympique Lyonnais's (OL) president Jean-Michel Aulas and director John Textor.[2] Textor is the company's controlling owner,[14] and the company is part of Eagle Football Group, which had acquired a significant stake in OL parent company OL Groupe in 2022 and controlling stakes in OL's football clubs, and also holds stakes in other European clubs.[15] OL Groupe also owns NWSL club OL Reign, a competitor of the Washington Spirit.[16]

On April 12, 2023, OL denied a report suggesting that OL Groupe was selling a 52% majority stake in Olympique Lyonnais Féminin to Kang. The club did confirm plans to sell OL Reign, but did not mention Kang.[17][18]

Personal life

Kang owned a condominium in Palm Beach, Florida,[1] from September 2020 to June 2022. The sale price of $15 million was the third largest in Palm Beach history for an oceanfront apartment.[19] She is an active supporter of The Kennedy Center,[20] which also was a front-of-jersey sponsor of the Washington Spirit in 2022.[21] Kang has also been a member of the American Red Cross board of governors since 2018.[22]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pandy, Jordan (September 17, 2020). "Venture capital firm founder buys Palm Beach condo for $6M". The Real Deal. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "AP 01 Appointment Of A Director". Companies House. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hensley-Clancy, Molly; Goff, Steven (April 30, 2021). "Co-owners of NWSL's Spirit fight for control after abuse allegations against coach". Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  4. "Coming Home: Scenes from Reunion Weekend" (Press release). Yale School of Management. February 6, 2020. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  5. Anderson, Jason (December 29, 2020). "Y. Michele Kang joins Washington Spirit ownership group". Black and Red United. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Hensley-Clancy, Molly (March 30, 2022). "Sale of NWSL's Spirit closes, making history for owner Michele Kang". Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Maurer, Pablo; Linehan, Meg; Yang, Steph (February 8, 2022). "Washington Spirit ownership: Steve Baldwin, Bill Lynch agree to sell team to Michele Kang". The Athletic. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  8. Maurer, Pablo; Linehan, Meg (December 14, 2021). "Washington Spirit co-owner Michele Kang makes $35 million offer to buy controlling interest in team, sources say". The Athletic. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  9. Hensley-Clancy, Molly (October 14, 2021). "Washington Spirit owner Steve Baldwin says he plans to sell stake in club as NWSL fallout continues". Archived from the original on October 15, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Maurer, Pablo (May 18, 2022). "Todd Boehly's failed attempt to buy a football club before his Chelsea takeover". The Athletic. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  11. "Washington Spirit wins NWSL Championship over Chicago Red Stars in extra-time thriller". ESPN. Associated Press. November 20, 2021. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  12. Maurer, Pablo (March 30, 2022). "Michele Kang officially majority owner of Spirit". The Athletic. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  13. "Spirit's Michele Kang becomes first woman of color to own NWSL team". The Washington Post. March 30, 2022. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  14. "EAGLE FOOTBALL HOLDINGS LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  15. Sim, Josh (December 20, 2022). "Lyon confirm John Textor's takeover". SportsPro. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  16. Rantz, Susie (December 20, 2022). "What new OL Groupe ownership means for OL Reign". Sounder at Heart. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  17. Guillemet, Hugo (April 12, 2023). "L'OL féminin bientôt vendu à Michele Kang, une femme d'affaires américaine". L'Equipe (in français). Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  18. Rantz, Susie (April 12, 2023). "OL Groupe start process to sell OL Reign". Sounder at Heart. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  19. Hofheinz, Darrell (June 17, 2022). "UPDATE: $15M sale in Kirkland House is third-priciest beachfront condo sold in Palm Beach". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  20. "REACH Supporters". The Kennedy Center. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  21. "Kennedy Center to sponsor NWSL Spirit jersey". Sports Business Journal. April 29, 2022. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  22. "Y. Michele Kang". American Red Cross. Retrieved April 12, 2023.

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