Leslie "Les" Alexander is a former stock trader from New Jersey who owns the National Basketball Association team Houston Rockets. He started trading options and bonds for a Wall Street firm before he broke off to form his own investment company, The Alexander Group, in 1980. He also owns a 20% stake in First Marblehead, a private student loan company.
He is also a vegetarian and an ardent animal-rights advocate. The Associated Press has reported that he has found ways to “promote animal rights through the Rockets. Complimentary media meals usually are vegetarian, the team's dance squad sometimes wears ‘Animals Have Rights’ shirts and he outlawed using creature-shaped piñatas during game promotions.” Alexander also places ads for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Rockets programs. In 1998 PETA publicly recognized Alexander and his (now ex-) wife Nanci as its largest individual donors. Nanci co-founded and runs the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, and was instrumental in mobilizing support for the 2002 ballot measure that gave constitutional protection to pregnant pigs in Florida.
In 1998 Alexander attempted to purchase and relocate the National Hockey League's storied Edmonton Oilers franchise, but a grassroots bid by local businessmen successfully prevented the sale. From 1997-2006, Alexander was the owner of the WNBA's Houston Comets. The Comets won the league's first 4 WNBA championships from 1997-2000, and were a perennial title contender for a majority of Alexander's tenure as Comets owner. He sold the team to Hilton Koch in January 2007. Unfortunately, the Comets folded a year later.