Berger and Chalfen purchased the NBL's disbanded Detroit Gems for $15,000 in 1947, changed their name to the Lakers and relocated them to Minnesota. Max Winter bought a third of the club in their early years, and sold his share to Mikan in 1954. Berger bought Mikan's share in 1956 giving him a controlling (⅔) interest.
After Mikan retired, attendance plummeted and the team lost money for several seasons, leading the ownership group to put the team up for sale in 1957.
Marty Marion, a retired baseball player and manager, and his business partner Milton Fischman attempted to purchase the team with the intention of moving the club to Kansas City, Missouri.
Mikan offered to mortgage his home in an attempt to buy the team and keep the club in Minnesota. The Lakers were sold to a group of investors led by Bob Short however.
The team was sold to Short's group with the agreement that it would not be relocated to Kansas City but kept in Minnesota. Short's ownership group consisted of 117 Minnesota businesses and private citizens, who amassed a total of $200,000 for the purchase; $150,000 to buy the team and $50,000 to run it. By 1958 Short had become 80% owner of the team by buying out his partners, but the team was floundering. Attendance remained poor, and the NBA had put the Lakers on "financial probation", notifying them that if they did not meet certain ticket sales numbers they could be bought out by the league and relocated. Short was forced to move the team to Los Angeles in 1960; the club had lost $60,000 in the first half of the 1959–60 season alone. The NBA's owners originally voted 7–1 against the move. When Short indicated that he might take the team to new rival league that was developing however, the owners held another vote that same day and allowed the relocation (8–0). Aided by Baylor's drawing power, and the new locale, the team's finances improved when they arrived in LA.
Short sold the team to Washington Redskins owner and publisher Jack Kent Cooke in 1965 for a then league record amount of $5,175,000. Short insisted the deal be conducted in cash as he was wary of Cooke, so guards transported the money in a cart from one New York bank to another.
Cooke was a more hands-on owner than Short, and overhauled the team's operations. He personally financed construction of the Forum in 1967 at a cost of $16.5 million. He owned the team until 1979 when he sold it, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, the Forum, and some real estate to Jerry Buss for $67 million.
Cooke was forced to sell the team as he was undergoing a costly divorce. Buss was a local chemical engineer and former University of Southern California professor who had become wealthy in real estate. Philip Anschutz bought a stake in the team in 1998, and until October 2010 Magic Johnson was a minority owner as well.
Buss started the trend of allowing sponsors to add their name to team's stadiums when he renamed the Forum the Great Western Forum in 1988. In 2009 major sponsors included Verizon Wireless, Toyota, Anheuser-Busch, American Express, and Carl's Jr., and the team's $113 average ticket price was the highest in the league. Fast food chain Jack in the Box is another major sponsor, the company gives all fans in attendance at home games a coupon for two free tacos if the Lakers hold their opponent under 100 points and win. The company also sponsors the team's halftime shows on KCAL-TV and Fox Sports West.
In 2013, Buss died at the age of 80 after being hospitalized for 18 months with cancer. His controlling ownership of the team passed to his six children via a trust, with each child receiving an equal vote. Buss' succession plan had daughter Jeanie Buss assume his title as the Lakers' governor as well as its team representative at NBA Board of Governors meetings.