The Waltons, heirs to the Walmart fortune and America's richest family, have won the bidding to purchase the Denver Broncos in the most expensive deal for a sports franchise anywhere in the world.
The Broncos announced late Tuesday night they had entered into a sale agreement with the Walton-Penner ownership group led by Rob Walton, his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and her husband, Greg Penner.
The price tag far surpasses the $3.1 billion sale last month of Chelsea, one of European soccer’s blue ribbon teams, to an American-led consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.
Boehly reportedly was among the investors with one of the five finalists who were invited to make bids for the Broncos by Monday’s deadline.
The agreement for the Walmart-Penner group to buy the franchise from the Pat Bowlen Trust must be approved by the NFL, but that is considered a formality.
Rob Walton said in a 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.
Walton said Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chairwoman of Starbucks, has agreed to join the ownership group.
Walton, 77, was chairman of Walmart, the world's largest retailer, from 1992-2015, when he retired. He is the eldest son of founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton and has an estimated net worth of nearly $60 billion.
After a first round of bids, five finalists were invited to tour the team’s facilities and take a deeper dive into the franchise’s finances. Hackett said he met with most of the billionaire bidders.
The Pat Bowlen Trust has run the franchise for several years and last year put the club up for sale after Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen’s children couldn’t concur on a successor to their father.