NFL owner drops $2.4 million on Alcoholics Anonymous founding document


There aren’t many organizations that have helped more people than Alcoholics Anonymous.

Since its inception in 1939, AA is responsible for millions of people turning their lives around, regardless of sex, age or nationality.

Colts owner Jim Irsay’s problems with alcohol and substance abuse are well-documented.

His father, Robert, who moved the team from Baltimore to Indianapolis, also had a very public drinking problem.

Irsay says he attended his first AA meeting 25 years ago, and its impact can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

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But we know that it’s worth at least $2.4 million.

That’s how much Irsay spent on Alcoholics Anonymous’ original founding document.

The “Big Book” is 161 pages long and was typed in the 1930s, and the original manuscript features notes by William Wilson — aka “Bill W.” — one of AA’s founders.

The tenants of the book have been the guiding force for the group, and its words motivated Irsay to share the message.

“The only way we stay sober is to give it away,” Irsay said via The Associated Press.

“I think it’ll help a lot of people. That’s the reason I’m doing it.”

Irsay has vowed to display the book at Alcoholics Anonymous’ headquarters in New York for several months per year.

Just seeing the document was incredible for the Colts owner.

“I’ve held it. I’ve looked through it. It is absolutely mind-blowing,” he said. “It was just a miracle to see this thing live.”

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Saturday marked the third time the book has been sold, first in 2004 for $1.6 million, then again in 2007 for $850,000.

The sale to Irsay was delayed due to a dispute with Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.

Wilson left the original document with his wife, Lois, upon his death in 1971. She subsequently gave it to friend Barry Leach.

AA has argued that Leach signed and notarized a letter in 1979 promising the book would stay with the organization after his death. He died in 1985, but AA apparently didn’t know about the letter at that time.

The auction website says that the “Big Book” has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 43 languages.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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