After years of speculation following the death of long-time team owner Pat Bowlen in June 2019, the Denver Broncos have finally been sold — and for a record price. As first reported by 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis, the Walton-Penner ownership group paid a whopping $4.65 billion to acquire the organization.
Lee by Walmart heir Rob Walton as the controlling owner, the Broncos’ new ownership will also include his daughter and son-in-law, as well as one or two of his grandchildren. Additionally, Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments (whose husband is Star Wars creator George Lucas), has also agreed to join the group.
Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis released the following statement about the sale:
I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process. 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.
I sincerely appreciate the cooperation of our football leadership, executive team and staffs at both UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High over the last few months and years. We also want to recognize the work of Allen & Company and Proskauer Rose, which have guided us through this process in a timely and efficient manner.
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.
Rob Walton himself released the following statement:
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.
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.
Mellody currently serves as Chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation and is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team.
Thank you to Joe Ellis and the staff of the Broncos for the first-class manner in which they have conducted this sale process. In addition, we thank Hogan Lovells for their guidance and support in this effort.
We look forward to earning the confidence and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process. When the necessary approval procedures are met, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community.
To put the sale and the NFL’s growth over the last 30 years in perspective, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paid an inflation-adjusted $336 million for the franchise back in 1994. That is roughly seven percent of what the Walton-Penner group paid for the Broncos.
The times sure are a-changin’.