Rob Walton‘s $4.65 billion bid for the Broncos has led to his officially becoming the franchise’s owner. At a Tuesday owners’ meeting, Walton’s Broncos acquisition received approval. Owners unanimously voted to approve Walton’s purchase, Roger Goodell said.
The Walmart heir now becomes the NFL’s richest owner — by a gargantuan margin. Walton’s approximately $70 billion in net worth is more than triple the NFL’s previous richest owner. His Broncos purchase nearly doubled the previous NFL record of $2.3 billion — set by Panthers owner David Tepper in 2018.
This transition ends the Bowlen family’s run as NFL owners. Pat Bowlen, who bought the Broncos in 1984, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019. Seven of the franchise’s eight Super Bowl berths came under Bowlen’s leadership. But the late owner’s battle with Alzheimer’s led to the Broncos being put in the Pat Bowlen Trust. The NFL at one point was behind Bowlen’s youngest child, Brittany Bowlen, taking over eventually, but a squabble between other Bowlen children ended up scuttling that plan. The Broncos went up for sale in February, and Brittany recently stepped down from her post inside the organization.
Walton’s daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and her husband, Greg Penner, are expected to run the day-to-day Broncos operations. Walton, 77, should be expected to be the team’s representative when owner votes are required. The Walton ownership group has swelled in recent weeks as well. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton have signed on as part-owners, joining Starbucks CEO Mellody Hobson in that capacity. Walton’s group has spoken with Peyton Manning about a possible role — a long-rumored scenario — but nothing definitive has emerged on that front yet.
This marks one of the most pivotal offseasons in Broncos history. Their new coaching hire (Nathaniel Hackett) will obviously play a major role in how the team fares in the near future, but the trade for Russell Wilson and the transition to Walton as owner represent bigger-picture moves for the organization.
Walton’s deep pockets will probably come into play regarding Wilson’s guarantee — one almost certain to venture into nine-figure territory. Walton’s approval also could lead to Wilson extension talks taking place this year. That matter could be tabled to 2023, but with more than a month between Walton’s transition and Week 1, the door is open for the Broncos to begin discussing a monster Wilson re-up.