Here are 5 Black billionaires who could purchase the Denver Broncos
- The Bowlen family recently announced plans to sell the Denver Broncos.
- With the recent fallout after only one Black head coach was hired out of nine openings, the NFL pledged to attract a more diverse ownership.
After 38 years under Bowlen family ownership, the Denver Broncos are expected to be sold this year, and the National Football League has expressed interest and hope in finding a Black owner for the storied franchise.
The NFL has faced public fallout after only one Black coach was hired this off-season out of nine potential head coaching openings (the Texans hired Lovie Smith in February; since then, Todd Bowles was promoted by the Buccaneers, taking over from Bruce Arians as head coach). While 58% of the NFL's players are Black, according to the Institute for Diversity and Sport's annual report, the league has only four Black head coaches out of 32 teams.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pledged to fix the league's problems with diversity, focusing first on ownership. The Denver Broncos offers the league its first test. Currently, there are no Black controlling owners in the NFL.
"The NFL member clubs support the important goal of increasing diversity among ownership. Accordingly, when evaluating a prospective ownership group of a member club pursuant to League policies, the membership will regard it as a positive and meaningful factor if the group includes diverse individuals who would have a significant equity stake in and involvement with the club, including serving as the controlling owner of the club," the NFL said in a press release in April.
In order to be a majority owner of an NFL team, a prospective buyer will likely have to pay more than a third of what the franchise ultimately sells for. According to Forbes, the Broncos are worth $3.75 billion, meaning any potential majority buyer will likely have to put up a minimum of $1.25 billion to $1.5 billion in cash.
That narrows the prospective pool down to a subsection of billionaires. And out of 2,755 billionaires globally, only 15 are Black.
Logistically, if the controlling owner is Black, he or she will likely be a part of a larger ownership group of three to five people.
With that in mind, here is a list of potential candidates that would even be eligible to buy the team:
Robert F. Smith
Smith is the founder and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, a company with more than $86 billion in assets under management.
Smith has never expressed interest in purchasing a professional sports franchise, but according to the New York Post, the NFL has reached out to Smith to enter a bid for the Broncos.
Plus, it doesn't hurt that Smith is a native of Denver.
"Goodell is putting tremendous pressure on him to bid," a source familiar with the league's pitch to Smith told the Post.
A source told Denver's NBC affiliate that Smith is not planning a bid for the Broncos and is focused on voting rights, economic justice, and underserved communities.
Smith's net worth is $8.9 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Steward is the co-founder and chairman of St. Louis-based World Wide Technology, a multibillion-dollar on-demand technology lab and consulting firm.
In sports, Steward is a part of the ownership group of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. In 2009, after the passing of Georgia Frontiere, Steward made a bid for her 30% stake in the St. Louis Rams but lost out.
He is the only person on this list who has bid for an NFL franchise. The only question mark here is will he be interested in purchasing a professional sports team outside of St. Louis?
Steward's net worth is between $3.7 billion and $5.8 billion, according to Forbes.
In previous instances of a professional sports team hitting the market for sale, reports have surfaced of Winfrey's interest. Take, for example, the Chicago Bears in 1997, when it was reported that she was a part of a group that included Walter Payton and Michael Jordan to make a bid for the team. All parties later denied that report, but Winfrey since acknowledged a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.
However, a few months after losing the bid to Microsoft co-founder Steve Ballmer, she said she was happy she didn't purchase the team because it wouldn't have been a wise business decision.
"We went over that number, and then we went over that number again, and by the time we got to the final number [it was no longer] a good business decision. But for me? I was doing it," Winfrey said during an Entertainment Tonight interview. "You know, my lawyers were like, 'Do you even like basketball?' I said, Yes, I LOVE basketball! And this is gonna be so much fun!'… I thought it would be entertaining."
Winfrey's net worth has reportedly been more than $1 billion since 2003. Most of her assets were accumulated as a media mogul with the Oprah Winfrey Network and the various shows and movies she has starred in and produced. Winfrey's current net worth is $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.
"Ye" Kanye West
Free-agent NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown broke the news last month on Twitter, stating West's desire to purchase the Broncos.
—AB (@AB84) February 11, 2022
—AB (@AB84) February 11, 2022
West has spoken about purchasing his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls, in his music. In a recent single 'City of Gods' earlier this year, he says, "after I buy the Chicago Bulls, I'm gonna link up with Mike."
Outside of that instance, West has not expressed interest in purchasing a professional sports team.
It's also not entirely clear if West could purchase the Broncos. Bloomberg has reported that West's sneaker and apparel business with Adidas and Gap Inc. is valued at somewhere between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion. And according to Forbes, the 44-year-old is worth $1.8 billion.
If West became the Broncos' majority owner, he would be the first artist to do so. Nelly and Usher are the only other performers who own stakes in sports teams.
Karp, a native of Philadelphia, is the CEO and co-founder of Palantir Technologies, a software and big data analytics company that has garnered controversy over the years for its work with military clients and law enforcement.
Karp is bi-racial and was born to an African American mother and a Jewish father.
While he hasn't expressed a desire to own a professional sports team, Karp has the means to shake up the NFL as it grapples with diversifying its ranks.
Karp's is worth around $2.1 billion.
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