The second round of bids for the Denver Broncos came through, and the long-rumored frontrunner remained ahead in the race. Rob Walton‘s group submitted a $4.65 billion bid to buy the AFC West franchise, Mike Klis of 9News reports. The group enters a sales agreement, one expected to lead to the Broncos having new owners ahead of the 2022 season.
That price not only shatters the NFL record — one David Tepper set when he bought the Carolina Panthers for $2.3 billion in 2018 — but breaks the American sports record by more than $1MM. Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner — all Walmart family heirs — will take over a Broncos franchise that had been in Pat Bowlen‘s family from 1984 until it went on the market in February. Although the Broncos have been run by the Pat Bowlen Trust for years, disagreements among the late owner’s children led to the team going up for sale.
Walton’s group beat out the Josh Harris– and Magic Johnson-fronted contingent, along with those headed by Mat and Justin Ishbia and Jose Feliciano, respectively. All four finalists submitted bids Monday, but Walton’s — unsurprisingly, as his approximately $70 billion net worth puts him in line to become the NFL’s richest owner — won out. Walton’s net worth more than triples Tepper’s. The Panthers owner’s $16.7 billion worth currently leads the league. Rob Walton, 77, is the oldest son of the late Walmart founder, Sam Walton.
“I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process,” Broncos CEO and president Joe Ellis said in a statement. “Learning more about their background and vision for the Denver Broncos, I am confident that their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.”
This transaction’s next step will be an NFL finance committee review. A three-fourths approval among other owners will greenlight Walton’s transition to becoming the Broncos’ next owner. Tepper’s Panthers purchase garnered a 32-0 vote. Walton’s acquisition is not expected to be met with resistance. A special convening between NFL owners is expected to take place in July, Klis notes. Walton appears set to be the Broncos’ controlling owner. But his daughter and son-in-law, along with Arial Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson, will play roles.
All four ownership groups reached out to Peyton Manning, who had expressed interest in being part of the franchise’s next group. John Elway had as well. It is unclear as of Tuesday night if the Hall of Fame quarterbacks will move forward with a Walton-run franchise. Elway, the team’s GM from 2011-20, currently serves as a consultant to GM George Paton.