Broncos winning bid: Walmart heir Rob Walton set to buy Denver’s NFL team for record price

For the first time since 1984, the Denver Broncos will have a new owner.

The Broncos announcement Tuesday night that they reached a buy-and-sell agreement with the Walton-Penner family to acquire the team. The buying group is led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, who will take over ownership of the team along with his daughter (Carrie Welton Penner) and son-in-law (Greg Penner).

The sale calls for the Walton-Penner family to acquire the team from the Pat Bowlen Trust in a move that will need to be approved by the NFL Finance Committee and league ownership before it is finalized. but at this point, those two things should be just formalities.

Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis seems confident the team will be in good hands going forward.

“I enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner through this process,” Ellis said. in a press release Tuesday evening. “As we learn more about their journey and their vision for the Denver Broncos, I’m confident their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.”

One of the reasons Walton was interested in buying the Broncos is because he once lived in Colorado. “We are thrilled to have been selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos,” Walton said in a statement. “Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to lead this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans. Having lived and worked in Colorado, we have always looked up to the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has never only growing as we’ve learned more about the team, staff and Broncos Country over the past few months.

After the Broncos announced in February that the team was going to be sold, Walton almost immediately appeared as one of the first to buy the franchise. Walton, who is the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, has an estimated net worth of $65 billion. According to Forbes, he is the 19th richest person in the world, and because of that, it was almost impossible for anyone to outbid him.

According 9News in Denver, the final purchase price for the Broncos is expected to be $4.65 billion, and if that ends up being the final figure, it will break the record for the biggest amount ever paid for a sports franchise in the United States. The record is currently held by the Nets, who sold for $2.35 billion in August 2019. The $4.65 billion prize will also more than double the price of the most expensive NFL team ever sold, which arrived in 2018 when David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers for $2.275 billion.

Once the purchase is finalized, Walton will not only instantly become the richest owner in the NFL, but he will have a higher net worth than the six richest owners in the NFL combined. Among the league’s current owners, Tepper has the highest net worth at $16.7 billion.

As recently as early April, the Broncos were expected to be sold for just north of $4 billion, but NFL teams are a hot commodity that doesn’t come up for sale often, which which probably helped drive up the price.

The sale ends 38 years of ownership by the Bowlen family. Originally Pat Bowlen bought the franchise in 1984 for just $78 million. From 1984 until his death in 2019, Bowlen oversaw one of the NFL’s most successful teams, with the Broncos going to seven Super Bowls and winning three. Bowlen passed away in 2019 and his trust has run the organization ever since. After his death three years ago, there was constant speculation that the team might be on salebut it didn’t officially happen until February of this year.

As for Walton, while he’s the first Walmart heir to own a team, he won’t be the first to have NFL ties. Walton’s cousin, Ann Walton Kroenke, is the husband of Rams owner Stan Kroenke. If you’re wondering about the family tree there, Sam Walton is Ann’s uncle. Ann’s father, Bud, was Sam’s brother and co-founder of Walmart.

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