Ashley grew up in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, where his parents still live in a modest bungalow. He began Sports Direct International PLC in 1982 and has made his fortune through them - starting with only a single store in Maidenhead and growing to over 150 across the UK and Belgium. Sporting and fashion brands owned by Ashley include Donnay, Slazenger, Dunlop, Everlast, Kangol, Karrimor and Lonsdale.
On 23 May 2007, Ashley bought a 41.6% stake in Newcastle United at one pound per share, for a total cost of £55,342,223 via his company St James Holdings Ltd. Under the terms of UK takeover law, he was also obliged to make an offer to buy the remaining shares at the same or a greater price. He achieved 100% acquisition by July. He appeared to have saved the club from certain financial ruin by paying off large sums of debt inherited from the previous regime. Previously to purchasing the club, he was seen as an intensely private individual (on par as the UK's version of Howard Hughes), but afterward, he acted as one of the fans, drinking in local bars and clubs, and watched the team from the stands with the supporters wearing the team shirt.
Since then, his run with the club has been rocky, with Newcastle United being relegated to English football's Football League Championship, the 2nd-tier of professional football in the country. In 2014 he purchased a small stake in Scottish club, Rangers FC, but his bid to own 29.9% was rejected by the Scottish Football Association, due to being seen as a conflict of interest.
Mike Ashley has a net worth of $5 billion.