The Next Washington Commanders Owner May Not Be The Highest Bidder

  • Jeff Bezos has the cash, although owner Dan Snyder has battled Bezos-owned Washington Post for years.
  • A partnership with Jay-Z could boost the efforts of the Amazon founder.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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Dan Snyder’s final major decision as owner of the Washington Commanders could be choosing his replacement — and he doesn’t have to take the highest bidder. 

That could complicate a potential purchase by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the leading contender mentioned to Front Office Sports by bankers and team executives interviewed since Snyder announced Wednesday that he was exploring a sale. 

Beyond Bezos, FOS has confirmed billionaire co-founders of Clearlake Capital Behdad Eghbali and José Feliciano are also interested.

Bezos, with a net worth north of $100 billion, could easily outbid all the other names that have been floated. But he also owns The Washington Post, which was the focus of much of Snyder and co.’s ire before it was turned toward ESPN after its exposé last month

But would Snyder actually take less money to spite Bezos? 

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“Maybe if the bids weren’t that far apart, but that doesn’t seem like something he’d do,” one banker told FOS.

With the team expected to sell for more than $6 billion, would Snyder sell for, say, $5 billion in this hypothetical?

“If Bezos bid a billion more than anyone, that’s some f–k you money,” another banker said. “I can’t think of anybody who’d turn down an extra billion dollars.”

One tech mogul has already been denied a team despite having the highest bid: Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber landed the Golden State Warriors for $450 million in 2010 even though Ellison would’ve paid more.

Ellison’s estimated worth is currently around $100 billion, but he appears more interested in sailing now. 

This is why one of the bankers said the NFL “is running out of billionaires” who have the means and desire to own a team. The league mandates that 30% of the purchase price be in cash. With the team potentially changing hands for $7 billion, that’d be $2.1 billion. 

Bezos, however, could have some help negotiating with Snyder.

TMZ reported a Bezos-Jay-Z partnership is “on the table,” a duo that would be hard to topple. 

Jay-Z is worth an estimated $1.5 billion, making him the wealthiest hip-hop artist. Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation also has a multi-year partnership with the NFL. 

It’s not clear if that’s how Snyder and Jay-Z became friendly, but sources told FOS they keep in touch. 

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Bezos and Jay-Z likely would have zero issues making it through the NFL Finance Committee en route to approval by at least 24 owners. 

Before we get that far ahead of ourselves, Snyder hasn’t even confirmed he’s putting all — or even any — of the Commanders up for sale. League executives and bankers, however, expect Snyder to move forward with selling it all. 

The process will be handled by Bank of America, and details of negotiations won’t be made readily available — including how much Snyder would want for the team. 

There have even been whispers among bankers about the approach by Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver.

Sarver announced he’d sell the franchises amid the backlash from an NBA investigation into allegations he regularly used racially and sexually inappropriate language.

“You tell everybody you’re selling and you act like you’re going through the sales process,” the banker said. “Then, after all that, you come out and say, ‘I was expecting to get more and now I am keeping the team.’”

One banker said Snyder could attempt to do the same thing. 

That could seem like a wild theory, but it’s no more out there than some lists of potential owners. 

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