AEW Owner Shahid Khan Only Earned $1.20 An Hour For His First American Job

Shahid Khan, co-owner of All Elite Wrestling alongside his son Tony, is the epitome of "The American Dream" – an ethos for the United States coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931. The belief that life in America is "better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" perfectly describes Shahid's journey from humble beginnings to the billionaire he is today. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Shahid's family was comfortable living middle-class, but the now-billionaire mogul foresaw a greater destiny for himself. In 1967, at the age of sixteen, Shahid left home to begin school at America's University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Money was so tight during the transition that he could only afford a $2 bed at the YMCA while he waited for the dorm rooms to open for the semester.


Shahid didn't allow school to slow down his extracurricular goals – he got his first job as a dishwasher shortly after the first semester started. Shahid, who was ranked 94th in Forbes' 2021 list of the 400 richest Americans, began his first job only making $1.20 an hour. If we adjust for inflation, $1.20 in the year 1967equatesto around $10.17 in 2022 – an hourly rate that would be difficult to live off in modern society. Working 40 hours a week would earn Shahid $48 before taxes, or a $576 annual salary, while by today's standards, he would be making $406.80 a week before taxes, or a $21,135 annual salary.

Shahid Builds An Empire

While still in school, Shahid began working as an engineer at Flex-N-Gate, an American automotive parts supplier. He moved on from the company in 1978 to start a similar business called Bumper Works, which found widespread success when they created a car bumper that is still implemented in designs today. He parlayed that success into more, coming back to Flex-N-Gate and buying out the company at the time they were going bankrupt. Today, Flex-N-Gate is recognized as one of the largest American automotive parts suppliers, ranked by Forbes as the 68th largest American private company in 2022, with 8.9 billion USD in revenue in 2020. He is also the owner of the Fulham F.C. London soccer club and The Jacksonville Jaguars, establishing him as the first member of an ethnic minority to own an NFL team.


In 2019, professional wrestling fans rejoiced when it was announced that Shahid and his son, Tony, would be the lead investors for All Elite Wrestling, a nationally televised wrestling show offering alternative programming to WWE. Tony serves as the President and CEO of the company and is the final call when it comes to creative decisions for the product. Their main show, "Dynamite," currently airs on TBS and hovers around 1 million viewers from week to week, while their secondary show "Rampage" airs each Friday on TNT and has suffered a significant decline in viewership over the past year.

Shahid Was Hesitant About AEW At First

Shahid's hard work and diligence have set him and his family up comfortably, likely for the remainder of their days. When it comes to All Elite Wrestling specifically, he wasn't always sold on the idea that it could be something achieving widespread success. "He did not support this at all," Tony said in a 2021 interview. "I put the business plan together, and I was pretty much ready to commit to it. But again, he had cold feet. We had some very uncomfortable conversations where I told him that this was going to be great."


Tony has been a wrestling fan all of his life, and his father naturally took him to events growing up. The crossover moments where Shahid can meet the stars or their children bring a full-circle appeal to the entire situation. "My dad marveled when he met Hook because, you know, my dad took me to ECW when I was a kid, and when I was 13 years old, my dad was there in Philly with me," Khan said in early 2021. "And my dad saw Taz. I was wearing a big orange Taz shirt the whole weekend."

With his father's support, Tony hopes to continue growing AEW until it is an entity on par with Shahid's most significant investments. Until that day comes, if ever, Tony and Shahid will continue investing in pro wrestling and delivering fans with a unique brand to watch each week.