The Denver Broncos have become the Walmart team. Rob Walton, the eldest son of the founder of the world leader in distribution, who presided over the company for more than 20 years, his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and her husband and current president of the company, Greg Penner, have come to an agreement to take over the American football club, as reported by both parties on Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning in Spain) through a statement.
The amount of the operation has not been made public, but sources from the NFL, the professional league, quoted by the sports channel ESPN estimated the Walton family’s offer at 4,650 million dollars (about 4,350 million euros, at the current exchange rate). . This would become a record operation for American professional sports. It surpasses the record of 2,200 million dollars paid by the Carolina Panthers for David Tepper in the NFL and the 2,300 million for the purchase of the Brooklyn Nets by Joe Tsai.
It is also the second largest purchase of a club in the world after the recent purchase of Chelsea, the British soccer team, by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club, a transaction valued at around 5,000 million euros.
Samuel Robson Walton, known as Rob, is one of the richest men in the world. His fortune is valued at $58.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Walton Enterprises, which he co-owns, remains Walmart’s largest shareholder. He chaired the company from 1992, the year of the death of his father, Sam Walton, the group’s founder, until 2015 and continues to be part of its board of directors. He is 77 years old and is the eldest of four siblings, three of whom are alive.
The operation must be approved by the financial commission of the NFL and by three quarters of the owners of the rest of the clubs in the professional league, which should happen in a few weeks and with plenty of time for the club to have new owners when the season starts in September.
The Walton family will gain a virtual monopoly on professional sports in Denver, as Ann Walton Kroenke, Rob’s cousin, and her husband, Stan Kroenke, own the Denver Nuggets, the city’s professional basketball team, from the Colorado Avalanche (ice hockey) and the Colorado Rapids, the Major League Soccer football team. They are also the owners of London Arsenal. However, they will rival the Broncos in the NFL, as they own the Los Angeles Rams.
“We are delighted to have been selected to go forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos! Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to lead this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunities and passionate fans,” said Rob Walton. in the statement. “Having lived and worked in Colorado, we have always admired the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has only grown as we have gotten to know the team and staff better over the last few months,” he added.
The statement notes that Mellody Hobson, who is co-CEO of Ariel Investments, chair of the board of directors of Starbucks and director of JPMorgan Chase, has also joined the group of investors. Faced with criticism for the lack of racial diversity of the owners of the clubs, the commissioner of the NFL had indicated his desire for a black person to be among the buyers of the Broncos.
The Broncos opened a formal sale process in February after lengthy legal battles with the family of previous owner Pat Bowlen, who died in 2019. Bowlen had owned them since 1984, when he bought the Broncos for about $70 million. Rob Walton and his associates were one of four finalists in the process, which also included a group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris.
Joe Ellis, CEO of the Broncos, has pointed out in the statement: “I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process. Learning more about his journey and his vision for the Denver Broncos, I am confident that his leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.”
Although it is a powerful team, the Denver Broncos are in the doldrums athletically. Last season they were last in their AFC group and did not qualify for the final playoffs. The team has won the Super Bowl three times, the last time in February 2016. With the richest owner in the entire league, they can begin to dream of repeating the feat.