NFL owners approve sale of Broncos to Walton-Penner group for record $4.65 billion

Rob Walton is officially the next owner of the Denver Broncos.

NFL owners officially approved the sale of the Broncos to the Walton-Penner ownership group on Tuesday, according to James Palmer of NFL Network. The team was sold for $4.65 billion, which sets a new American record for the sale of a sports franchise.

The group is led by Walmart heir Rob Walton and his family. They now have a near-total hold on professional sports in Colorado, as they own the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rapids through Stan and Ann Walton Kroenke. Stan Kroenke — who owns the Los Angeles rams and Arsenal FC — is married to Ann, Rob’s cousin.

The team was put up for sale in February officially after lengthy legal battles with previous owner Pat Bowlen’s family after his death in 2019. Pat Bowlen first purchased the Broncos in 1984 for about $70 million.

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The Broncos were listed as the 10th most valuable NFL franchise in 2022, according to Sportico, and climbed 22% from the previous year. The Dallas Cowboys were the most valuable team on that list at $7.64 billion.

The previous American sports franchise record was set when the Brooklyn Nets were sold for about $2.3 billion. Chelsea FC was sold earlier this year for a record deal worth more than $5 billion.

The Walton-Penner group has added several notable figures since the deal was first announced. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined, as did the co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chair of the board of Starbucks Mellody Hobson. Formula One star Lewis Hamilton was the latest to join, too, which made him the third Black owner in the group.

Rob’s daughter and her husband, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner, are the final two members of the six person group. It’s unclear how much each member bought in for, or how big of a role they will have in running the franchise.