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Denver Broncos reach sale agreement with group led by Rob Walton for $4.65 billion

If NFL owners approve of the sale later this summer, the Denver Broncos will be under new leadership when they kick off the 2022 NFL season September 12 against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Broncos announced late Tuesday evening that they have reached an agreement with the Walton-Penner family ownership group to sell the team.

“While this purchase and sale agreement is pending approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership, today marks a significant step on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history.”

Denver Broncos CEO Joe Ellis on sale agreement, via team’s official website

In somewhat of a surprising turn, the impending new Broncos ownership group announced that Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chairwoman for Starbucks, is slated to join said ownership group.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report that said sale will be valued at $4.65 billion — the largest sum in North American professional sports history.

This reported sale was making its rounds on Monday with the estimated going rate being $4.5 billion.

“We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos! Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.

“Having lived and worked in Colorado, we’ve always admired the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has only grown as we’ve learned more about the team, staff and Broncos Country over the last few months.”

Related: Denver Broncos 2022 schedule and game-by-game predictions

Looking at Rob Walton and the soon-to-be new Denver Broncos ownership group

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

The son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, the 77-year-old Rob Walton has an estimated net worth of $62 billion. It reportedly makes him the 18th richest person in the world according to Bloomberg.

He held the role of chairman of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, for 23 years after the death of his father. Walmart had an estimated revenue of $582.8 billion in the fiscal year ending this past January 31. The Walton group was said to be the favorite of other NFL owners to land the Denver Broncos.

The 52-year-old Greg Penner was named chairman of Walmart back in 2015 and is a venture capitalist. A graduate of both Georgetown and Stanford, he is the husband of Walton’s sister, Carrie Walton Penner. She’s also involved in the ownership group.

In addition to his work with Walmart, Penner is the founder of an investment firm out of Northern California called Madrone Capital Partners. He currently sits on the board of directors for Baidu, eHarmony, Hyatt Hotels and Teach for America.

As noted above, Mellody Hobson’s inclusion in the likely new Denver Broncos ownership group was somewhat of a surprise. The 53-year-old previously served as the chairwoman for Dreamworks Animation before her roles with Ariel Investments and Starbucks.

Married to legendary filmmaker George Lucas, she became the first black woman to be the chairperson of an S&P 500 company when she took over that role at Starbucks back in December of 2020. Hobson is said to have a net worth of roughly $16.8 billion.

“We are excited to announce that Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, has agreed to join our ownership group. Beyond her role at Ariel, Mellody is an influential leader in corporate and civic organizations across the nation.”

The likely new Denver Broncos ownership group said in a statement

This sale will become official if there’s 24 yes votes among NFL owners later this summer. There’s not expected to be any issues on this front.

The previous record sale for an NFL team was $2.3 billion when David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers in 2018.

The New York Mets sold for a North American sports franchise record $2.475 billion to Steve Cohen back in 2020.

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