The NFL annual owners’ meeting could be the end of the road for Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder. Hints that a Commanders sale could be imminent are everywhere, including Washington’s unconventional approach to free agency. Washington reportedly has pushed back the disbursements of signing bonuses by two months — which is a possible signal that Snyder is hoarding cash ahead of a potential sale.
That sets the stage for a dramatic owners’ meeting, when the league’s 32 owners could vote on a Commanders’ purchase proposal. But who will pony up the estimated $6 billion? Here’s a look at the known potential Commanders buyers — including a number of famous names.
Potential Buyers in Washington Commanders Sale
Intrigue regarding a Washington Commanders sale stretches back to at least 2020, when the Washington Post revealed an alleged culture of harassment towards female employees. That triggered a number of investigations — including one conducted by Congress — into Snyder and his organization. He’s also been accused of a series of financial improprieties.
The compounding scandals have been the driving force — both internally and externally — to get Snyder to sell, either voluntarily or involuntarily. For ownership bids to succeed, they must first be vetted by the NFL’s finance committee and then ratified by three-quarters of the league’s 32 owners.
So who has the means and desire to make such a purchase? Here’s a list of potential buyers in the seemingly inevitable Commanders sale.
Josh Harris and Magic Johson
Since his retirement from the NBA, Magic Johnson has had at least a partial ownership stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Sparks, and Los Angeles F.C. And now he’s teaming up with businessman and investor Josh Harris to bid on the Commanders.
The Washington Post reported recently that Johnson has joined the Harris-led investment group, which is viewed as the frontrunners to land the Commanders. Harris, since 2011, has also been part of a group that bought the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils, and Crystal Palace F.C.
Johnson and Harris together last year tried to buy the Denver Broncos, but a group by Walmart heir Rob Walton ultimately won out (with a purchase price of $4.7 billion).
Creating Amazon has made Jeff Bezos the world’s third-richest man, but all the money in the world is useless if the person selling what you want to buy isn’t willing to sell it to you. And that might be Bezos’ reality when it comes to the Washington Commanders sale.
The Athletic reported last month that Bank of America — which is handling the sale — has informed Bezos that he is not allowed to even make an offer for the Commanders.
Payback by Snyder against the Bezos-owned Washington Post, which Snyder is said to loathe due to their aggressive and damaging coverage of Snyder and his football team.
Byron Allen, media mogul and founder of Entertainment Studios, would become the first Black majority owner of an NFL franchise if he is the winning bid. Allen, like Harris and Johnson, was interested in buying the Broncos. His desire to own an NFL team didn’t end with that disappointment.
With a net worth of less than a billion dollars, Allen would need to assemble a deep-pocketed collection of investors to put together the kind of money needed to make the deal.
Fertitta is the owner of the Houston Rockets (whom in 2017 he bought for a then-record $2.2 billion) and Landry’s Inc. — the parent company of the Golden Nugget casinos and some of the nation’s most recognizable restaurant chains (including Del Frisco’s, Morton’s and Rainforest Cafe).
Fertitta also starred in the CNBC reality TV show “Billion Dollar Buyer,” which aired from 2016-2018.
A late edition to the Commanders Derby, Steve Apostolopoulos recently toured the Commanders training complex as he mulls a bid, per ESPN.
Apostolopoulos is a Candian billionaire who founded the private equity fund Six Ventures. He’s also been a candidate to buy the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets from Michael Jordan, but ESPN reports he is now focusing in on acquiring the Commanders.
Behdad Eghbali and Jose E. Feliciano, co-founders of Clearlake Capital, first tried buying a minority stake in the Commanders in 2020. Snyder blocked that attempt then. Will he do so again?
Eghbali and Feliciano — who also were players in the Broncos sale but are seen as long shots to buy the Commanders — are believed to be worth more than $6 billion combined.
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