All but a done deal is what is being said of a bid to buy the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion by a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton—that includes finance industry leader Mellody Hobson. The deal would make the 53-year old influential business leader and philanthropist—who is married to billionaire filmmaker and Star Wars creator George Lucas—the first Black woman with an equity stake in an NFL team.
The deal comes after a bidding war that included competing offers from Byron Allen, billionaire Robert F. Smith and a group that included Magic Johnson. The winning bid is higher than expected and represents the highest sum ever paid for a professional sports franchise. It had been valued by Forbes at $3.75 billion last year.
Diversity was a factor stressed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the sale process.
“Beyond her role at Ariel, Mellody is an influential leader in corporate and civic organizations across the nation,” Walton said.
“Mellody currently serves as Chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation and is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team.”
The size of Hobson’s stake in the deal was not disclosed.