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How Mark Cuban saved one of the biggest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the US

Business Insider logo Business Insider 3/18/2017 Richard Feloni

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Each year, more than 100,000 people line up along two miles of Greenville Ave in Dallas for a massive St. Patrick's Day party.

The pun is glaringly obvious, because the entire avenue becomes a sea of green, with families and revelers alike dressing up for one of the largest St. Patrick's day parades in the United States, and the largest in the Southwest.

It's not even that Dallas is a particularly Irish city. It's just an excuse to have fun as a community every year, since 1979.

And in 2012, there was almost a year without a parade after its main sponsor, Budweiser, pulled out just a month before the scheduled event. The parade organizers publicly announced they needed $40,000 to stay afloat. That's a relatively small investment for Mark Cuban, the billionaire Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise owner and "Shark Tank" investor, who came to the rescue, donating an extra $25,000 to the parade committee's fund for the Dallas Independent School District.

For the last six years, the Mavericks have been the primary sponsor of the parade, and Cuban was the parade's grand marshal last year, riding atop a float with his two daughters and son.

Cuban told the local press at the time that he couldn't let a Dallas tradition die, especially one that he enjoyed so much in his younger days since moving to the city in 1982.

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"I figured that I killed a whole bunch of brain cells," he told NBC's Dallas affiliate, referring to some parade-goers' tendency to get rowdy. "I want to give everybody else a chance."

Since then, funding the parade has become a tradition of its own for Cuban, he told Business Insider.

It's not only fun, but it's good for business. He's used the parade to promote his basketball team and some of the small businesses he's invested in, like two of this year's sponsors, Beat Box Beverages and fitness tracker company Moov.

Alex Macon, online arts and entertainment editor at D Magazine in Dallas, said Cuban's investment in 2012 improved his image among Dallas natives.

"The word 'savior' was bandied about in bar conversations when it first happened, only a little ironically," Macon told Business Insider via email. "I think there's a lot of eye-rolling at Cuban's persona here in Dallas," he said, referring to Cuban's history of brash behavior at basketball games and on television, "but most people seemed genuinely grateful that somebody was keeping the parade afloat."

Macon noted that Cuban saved the parade the year after the Mavs won the NBA Championship in 2011, and the combination won over many people who weren't fans of him personally. "Those two things will get you a lot of goodwill here," Macon said.

This year's parade, held on March 11, had an especially large turnout of 125,000, and its grand marshall was recently retired Dallas police chief David Brown.

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