Bob Liewald grew up in Chicago where he snuck into Sportsman's Park as a kid. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Liewald was heading to law school when a unique business offer came in to be a merchandiser in the sports business. He was responsible for signing superstar athletes like Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse and Chris Webber to contracts.
Entrepreneurship beckoned and Liewald left to co-found GSI, an e-commerce company which ran all the online stores for NASCAR, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, NHL, NFL, and dozens of other website stores. Always a sports fan, Liewald has been to every major sporting event including 25 Super Bowls, Muhammad Ali fights, World Series, Final Fours, NASCAR races, Stanley Cups — and of course, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Bob is now a full time student of horse racing living in Malibu with his partner of more than 20 years Lucy Lawrence.
Who was the first horse you ever owned?
After doing my research and homework, I actually went four-deep on my first purchase with Little Red Feather Racing. My first winner of the four was Tebowing.
How did you get involved in the e-commerce business?
Always was in retailing. Selling to consumers I started with Footlocker, then as a vendor with Fila. In 1998 I was fortunate enough to get together with three other like-minded guys that had a hunch shoppers would eventually gravitate to the Internet .
What do you love most about Horse Racing?
It checks several boxes.
Love and respect for the animal.
Gambling is involved.
It's a nice blend of instincts and knowledgeable choices.
It's a competitive sport!
What is the main reason you co-own with others?
There is nothing better than to get your picture taken with “family” after a win.
If you were horse racing commissioner for a day, what one change would you make?
Horse racing lacks innovation. One could say it's stuck not in the last century but really much longer than that. There are just too many options when it comes to gambling all having better odds. Every other sport has tweaked the rules and bring a better, speedier product to the fan. I would try to get some of the most innovative minds outside racing for some perspective. The sport and gambling angles both need to really shake things up.
I can't help but think someone like Elon Musk or Peter Diamandis couldn't brainstorm some ideas that would involve some new life and blood to the sport.
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