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Denver Broncos sell for record $4.65 billion

The Broncos were purchased by a discount retail emperor, but they did not go for a discount.

In 1984, a lawyer and Canadian oil heir Pat Bowlen bought the Denver Broncos for a then-record $70 million.

The Bowlen family (Pat died in 2019) has now sold their beloved Broncos for a new record $4.65 billion. That's a billion with a B.

The club announced Tuesday night it has entered into a purchase agreement with the Walton-Penner family. The group is led by Rob Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and includes Rob's daughter Carrie Walton Penner and her husband Greg Penner. Greg Penner succeeded Rob Walton as the chairman of Walmart in 2015.

"We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos!" Walton said in a statement. "Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans. Having lived and worked in Colorado, we've always admired the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has only grown as we've learned more about the team, staff and Broncos Country over the last few months."

So, an empire built on discount retail sales bought the Broncos, but the Broncos were not bought at a discount. The $4.65 billion is more than double the then-NFL record $2.3 billion that David Tepper purchased the Carolina Panthers for just four years ago. The previous record for a North American sports franchise was held by the New York Mets, who went to Steve Cohen in 2020 for $2.475 billion. The overall record for a sports franchise sale is held by the English soccer club Chelsea, which went for $5 billion last month. 

Though if the (no offense) Denver Broncos can go for $4.65 billion, imagine how much the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots or New York Giants would go for. That, ultimately, is why NFL owners pay Roger Goodell a reported $60 million a year. They pay him millions, he pays them back in billions: the last franchise to sell before Goodell's promotion from NFL COO to CEO in 2006 (the Atlanta Falcons) went for $585 million. 

If we assumed the Falcons represented an average NFL team's worth when they sold in 2001 (decent assumption, right?) the 31 NFL teams would've been worth a collective $18.135 billion. If we're to assume the same about the Broncos now, the 32 NFL teams are collectively worth $148.8 billion. That's an 820 percent growth over 21 years. 

With the sale, the Walton family will now own two NFL franchises. Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke is married to the former Ann Walton, cousin of Rob.  

The NFL also has a new richest owner. That title previously went to Tepper and his estimated $16.7 billion fortune, but Rob Walton alone is worth an estimated $57.9 billion. 

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.