The Waltons family, heirs to the Walmart fortune and America’s richest family, have won the bid to buy the Denver Broncos in the most expensive deal for a sports franchise anywhere in the world.
The Broncos announced late Tuesday night that they have entered into a sale agreement with a Walton Benner property group led by Rob Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton Benner, and her husband, Greg Benner.
Terms of sale were not disclosed, but KUSA-TV in Denver reported it was for $4.65 billion.
The price far exceeds the $3.1 billion sale of Chelsea, one of European football’s blue ribbon teams, last month to an American-led consortium faced by Todd Boyle, part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Boehly was reportedly among the investors with one of the finalists invited to bid for the Broncos by Monday’s deadline.
The Walmart-Penner Group’s agreement to purchase the franchise from the Pat Bowlen Trust must be approved by the NFL, but this is a formality.
“While this buy-and-sell agreement awaits approval by the NFL Finance Committee and Major League ownership, today marks an important step on the road to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history,” team president and CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement.
“I enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Benner, and Greg Benner during the process,” Ellis said. “Learn more about their background and vision for the Denver Broncos, and I am confident that their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.”
Rob Walton said in a statement, “We are thrilled to have been chosen to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos! Carrie and Greg and I were inspired by the opportunity to lead such a great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.”
“Having lived and worked in Colorado, we’ve always been fans of the Broncos. We’ve been excited as we’ve learned more about the team, the staff, and the Broncos Country over the past few months,” Walton added.
Walton said Melody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and president of Starbucks, has agreed to join the ownership group.
Black Hobson. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made minority ownership a focus of the league.
Melody is currently the Chairman of Starbucks Corporation and is also the Director of JPMorgan Chase. “We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team,” Walton said.
“We look forward to earning the trust and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process. When the necessary approval procedures are met, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community.”
Walton, 77, was chairman of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, from 1992 to 2015, when he retired. He is the eldest son of company founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton and has a net worth of approximately $60 billion.
First-year coach Nathaniel Hackett protested when asked Monday during off-season training if he was keeping up with the sale.
“My job is to prepare the team, teach the systems, teach them to work together as a team and improve their football skills,” Hackett said. “I know it’s obviously a huge, huge deal. But for us it’s about winning no matter who owns the team, so I’m excited.”
After the first round of bidding, five finalists were invited to tour the team’s facilities and learn more about the finances of the franchise. Hackett said he’s met most of the billionaire bidders.
“After talking to everyone, I think they all have great passion and want to be part of this league, want to be part of a team – and I think that’s a really beautiful thing,” said Hackett.
“They want to come in to win, they want to do something great here. Wherever it is, I think we would be very grateful.”
The Pat Bowlen Trust ran the franchise for several years, and last year put the club up for sale after the children of Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen were unable to agree to a successor to their father.
Bowlen passed away in 2019, a month before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.