Walmart heir Rob Walton and his family were the winning bidders for the Denver Broncos.
The team announced late Tuesday night that the Broncos had entered into a sales agreement with Walton, the head of an ownership group that includes his daughter Carrie Walton Penner and her husband Greg Penner.
A source with knowledge of the sale confirmed to Front Office Sports the group agreed to pay $4.65 billion, a record price for a North American pro sports franchise.
The Walton group was among four that put in second-round bids ahead of Monday’s deadline. Walton, worth an estimated $59.1 billion, shouldn’t have a problem coming up with the nearly $1.4 billion — 30% of the purchase price — in cash as required by the NFL.
Investment executive Mellody Hobson “agreed to join the ownership group,” according to a statement issued by the Broncos. It wasn’t announced how big of a slice Hobson will own.
“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,” the ownership group said in a statement.
The sale will need approval from the NFL Finance Committee and then 75% of league ownership. It’s expected that there would be a special meeting scheduled to make it possible for the team to change hands officially before the start of the season.
The sale price is second only to last month’s $5.4 billion sale of the Premier League’s Chelsea FC to an American group led by Todd Boehly. Boehly actually submitted a first-round bid, but wasn’t among the final four bids.
Outside Walton, the final bidders were Josh Harris, founder of the entertainment group that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, Clearlake Capital co-founder Jose E. Feliciano and United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia.
The death of longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen — who was in declining health before he passed in 2019 — led his trust to run the team. His heirs could not come to an agreement on the future of the team.