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Evaluating the 4 remaining candidates for historic Denver Broncos sale

Matt Johnson
Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The upcoming Denver Broncos will be a historic moment for both the National Football League and American professional sports. On the verge of Denver’s NFL team being sold for a historic figure, the bidding war is reportedly down to four groups.

According to Denver’s 9 News, second-round bids are due for the Broncos on June 6. From that point, the process could move quickly with all parties making final efforts to have the winning bid. Once the Pat D. Bowlen Trust approves the deal, it will move forward with the agreement seeking NFL approval.

Related: Second-round bids for Denver Broncos sale imminent

After months of frenzied bidding and inquiries from groups headlined by celebrities and billionaires, there seems to be a final four. The remaining competitors have pushed the purchase price from an initial estimate of $4 billion to potentially $5 billion.

On the verge of the largest deal ever in American sports history being made, let’s examine the four candidates vying for the Denver Broncos.

Rob Walton and Greg Penner, Walmart

NFL: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, seemingly emerged later in the process than others. Joined by fellow Walmart executive Greg Penner, the two men are serious candidates to land Denver’s NFL team. In May, he was viewed as the favorite and viewed as the preferred option for NFL owners.

Walton recently sold land in Aspen for $30.8 million, providing him with additional liquid cash to put forward in a potential deal. It’s important because the NFL included a stipulation for a team to be sold that required significantly more cash to be provided up front. Another factor working in Walton’s favor, he is the brother-in-law of Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Walton intends to build a new stadium in Denver.

Josh Harris and Magic Johnson group

NBA: Finals-Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors
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Billionaire businessman Josh Harris and NBA legend Magic Johnson are part of a group in the running for the Broncos. Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, is the managing partner for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and owns the New Jersey Devils in the NHL. Now, he is looking for a piece of the sport generating the most revenue every year.

Related: Magic Johnson joins group bidding for Denver Broncos

Fanatics CEO Michael G. Rubin is also involved with the group with Forbes estimating his net worth at $8 billion. While it’s unclear what percentage of the Broncos each team is vying for, they are firmly in the running for the franchise. Tad Brown, currently serving as CEO of the Harris Blitzer group, is also reportedly involved in the bid.

According to 9 News, Johnson is putting forward more than $50 million for a share of the franchise. At this time, it’s unclear is this group would have any plans to either fund a new stadium or seek support from the city for a new stadium.

Jose Feliciano group

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jose E. Feliciano, the cofounder of Clearlake Capital, is part of another group of investors vying for Denver’s NFL club. The Puerto Rican native is reportedly putting forth a larger share of the money for the bid, seeking to become the team’s controlling owner if the Pat Bowlen Trust and the NFL approve.

This is all part of a large effort to become more involved in professional sports. Originally, billionaire Todd Boehly was believed to be the front man for this effort. However, with funding provided from Clearlake Capital, he recently purchased Chelsea FC. Now, Feliciano and business partner Behdad Eghbali, an Iranianian-born billionaire, the two men have emerged as finalists.

One important note, Clearlake Capital is not permitted to be involved in the bidding. As A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports detailed in January, NFL rules prohibit private equity firms from having a stake in a team. As a result, this bid will come directly from Eghbali and Feliciano’s personal funds. Joining them is Dodgers’ co-owner Mark Walter.

Related: Denver Broncos schedule 2022

Justin and Mat Ishbia

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

A former college basketball player at Michigan State, billionaire Mat Ishhbia and his brother Justin are now in the running for the Broncos. They are among the final competitors, having received a tour of the team’s facilities in May.

Mat Ishbia is the president and CEO of UnitedHoldings, the mortgage company formerly known as United Wholesale Mortage that was founded by his father in the 1980s. He and his brother both old significant stakes in UWM, the most prominent wholesale mortgage lending company, which reported $1.6 billion in profits last year. Forbes estimates Justin Ishbia’s net worth at $1.4 billion.