The following story is to be filed in the remarkably thin manila folder marked “Be Glad You Weren’t Raised By Rich People.”
The palace intrigue is thick in New Orleans this week as accusations and lawsuits are flying between factions of Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson’s family — i.e. his daughter and grandchildren versus he and his wife who is not their mother/grandmother.
The original chain of succession for ownership upon Benson’s death was supposed to go to his daughter Renee and her children, Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc. Rita had been a Saints executive since 2000 and was vice chairman of the board for the Saints and Pelicans until this week, when her company car and phone were taken away and Benson’s 67-year-old wife Gayle was announced as his successor. She is the 87-year-old Benson’s third wife, with the pair marrying in 2004.
“Gayle will own the teams upon my death and as I noted, Rita will not be involved in the ownership or management in the Saints or Pelicans,” Benson said in a written statement reiterating that his granddaughter is being cut off. “My family, just as they have been for their entire lives, will be taken care of.”
And that’s where the fun begins. The no-longer future owners of the Saints and Pelicans fired back with a lawsuit claiming their grandpappy is mentally incompetent and being manipulated by his gold-digging wife.