THE ICON: Tom Benson
THE LEGACY: New Orleans’ best-known self-made billionaire, Tom Benson has long been a private man. Consequently, his public image is often at odds with itself, depending on who you’re talking to: He’s generous. He’s miserly. He’s ruthless. He’s a softie. Wherever the truth lies, this much is certain: Since Benson bought the Saints in 1985, he has proven to be a deep-pocketed hometown preservationist. Not only has he resisted pulling up stakes and moving the team to more profitable climes, he has made it a point to collect and protect other beloved local institutions, from the NBA Hornets (which he renamed the Pelicans) to Dixie Beer and WVUE-TV. For anyone as proud of their hometown as Benson is, that is something worth boogieing about.
THE ARTIST: Sean Randall, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I have a lot of pride and I don’t quit easily. When Mr. Mecom told me a year ago he wasn’t interested in selling the team, I didn’t give up. I stuck around, kept actively showing my interest. In business, if you’re tenacious, sometimes things will fall your way.” — Tom Benson, in 1985, upon announcing the deal to purchase the New Orleans Saints