Friday, June 2 2023
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USA Today

Daniel Snyder is in the process of selling the Washington Commanders franchise, which has millionaires and billionaires alike lining up for a potential run. Already, two groups have submitted formal bids, per ESPN, and there is a growing belief that a purchase agreement could be in place by the NFL Draft.

One of those billionaires is New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Josh Harris, who is leading a group that is zeroing in on the franchise. Harris has partnered with fellow billionaire Mitchell Rales and has brought in investors like former Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson. That group has now submitted a fully-financed bid that meets Snyder’s asking price of $6 billion, per ESPN.  

This is not the first time that Harris has made a run for an NFL franchise, as he failed to purchase the Denver Broncos last year, an attempt that also included Johnson. 

Harris is the co-founder of Apollo Global Management and is worth $7.3 billion. He’s also no stranger to owning professional teams. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment owns the Devils along with the 76ers and the Prudential Center. Harris also has a piece of the English soccer club Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, Rales is the co-founder of Danaher and is worth $6.6 billion, so there is significant capital, experience, and name recognition with this group. 

As it relates to the NBA Hall of Famer, Sportico previously reported that Johnson is said to be providing both money and expertise to the Commanders bid. The 63-year-old owns a minority stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers, putting in $50 million of his own money into what was ultimately a winning bid that topped $2 billion. While Johnson’s contributions were small in the grand scheme of that purchase, he also was a public face for the organization. He also has had other business ventures since retiring from the NBA in 1996 including stake in the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and LAFC, which is the most valuable club in MLS.  It’s unclear how much capital Johnson is contributing to the group. 

Meanwhile, Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos has also submitted a fully-funded bid of $6 billion, per ESPN. Apostolopoulos has been one of the many folks entering the fray to try and purchase the Commanders and recently toured the facility. Apostolopoulos has been in the market for a professional sports franchise, and he’s turned his focus to the Commanders. 

As for the current owner in Snyder, he has been under scrutiny in recent years for numerous accusations headlined by financial impropriety and harboring a hostile work environment. That has led some owners, like Indianapolis’ Jim Irsay, to publicly consider forcibly removing him as the owner of the Commanders by way of reaching the necessary 24 votes among the other 31 owners across the NFL. However, a sale would be a much cleaner course of action.  

In addition to the Harris-led and Apostolopoulos-led groups, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is the other known bidder for the team. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is said to potentially be looking to buy the franchise as well. 

Source: CBSSports.com

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