Several groups submitted bids to purchase the Washington Commanders before a late-December target requested by the investment bank handling the sale, but none reached the $7 billion mark that owner Daniel Snyder seeks for the team, according to a person familiar with the process.
Some of those familiar with the process, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the bidding, said it’s unclear whether Bezos’s inaction reflects ambivalence over the price Snyder seeks, a ploy to sit back and ultimately outbid the top offer or some other misgivings about making an offer.
Because of Bezos’s vast net worth, many concede the team would be his for the taking if he wants it enough to simply trump the highest offer by anyone else. Given the uncertainty over his intentions, several groups of prospective buyers are vying to be next in line if Bezos opts out or sets a hard cap on what he’s willing to pay, people with ties to the process have said.
Daniel Snyder calls England his usual residence in recent filing
If Bezos does not intensify his efforts, those who stand to benefit could include some of the bidders who last year tried but failed to purchase the Denver Broncos. The finalists for the Broncos have been expected to be contenders for the Commanders, a person familiar with the process said.
Those include media entrepreneur Byron Allen; Clearlake Capital co-founders Behdad Eghbali and Jose E. Feliciano, who previously attempted to purchase a minority stake in the Commanders from Snyder’s former limited partners; Josh Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management and the owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils; and Todd L. Boehly, the CEO of Eldridge Industries, the chairman of the Chelsea Football Club and a part-owner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
Boehly is believed to have been strongly interested in the Commanders during the bidding process, but it is not clear whether he remains active in that pursuit. It is also unclear if Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s co-founders joined forces in a prospective Commanders bid or have been pursuing the team on separate tracks. A spokesperson for Boehly has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
Boehly, 49, a 1991 graduate of Bethesda’s Landon School, led the consortium that won the hotly contested global auction to buy Chelsea FC for roughly $3.1 billion and committed more than $2 billion for a stadium and other team spending. The deal was largely funded by Clearlake Capital.
Spokespeople for Harris, who grew up in Chevy Chase and attended the Field School, repeatedly have declined to comment, as have spokespeople for Eghbali and Feliciano.
Mat Ishbia, the president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, expressed interest in the Commanders in November. But he no longer is pursuing the team, a spokesman for him said last month, after reaching an agreement to buy the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury from Robert Sarver. That deal valued the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion and included all of Sarver’s interest in the teams and a portion of the interest of Sarver’s ownership partners.
The Pat Bowlen Trust sold the Broncos in June to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton. That $4.65 billion purchase is the record sale price for an NFL franchise. The owners officially ratified the deal in August. Forbes estimated in August that the Commanders are worth $5.6 billion.
Potential bidders for Commanders are fixated on Jeff Bezos’s intent
Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, has an estimated net worth of $121.3 billion, according to Forbes, which ranks him as the world’s fourth-wealthiest person. Multiple NFL owners have expressed interest in having Bezos pursue an NFL franchise. He also has been linked to the Seattle Seahawks, who probably will be sold in the coming years by the trust of late owner Paul Allen, a former co-founder of Microsoft.
Bezos’s pursuit of any NFL team could become complicated if he chooses to return to Amazon as the company’s CEO, a role he ceded to his chosen successor Andy Jassy in July 2021. Several business publications including Fortune reported this month that is a possibility, based on analyst forecasts. NFL team owners and league executives could view that as a conflict, given that Amazon pays the NFL roughly $1 billion annually to carry the league’s “Thursday Night Football” package. As the owner of an NFL franchise, Bezos would have access to privileged financial information relevant to future broadcast negotiations.
In November, a person familiar with the situation said Bezos was interested in the Commanders and might bid with music mogul Jay-Z as an investor in his group. Bezos declined to comment on his potential bid for the Commanders at the National Portrait Gallery’s 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala that month.
“I can’t talk about it,” Bezos said then. During a televised interview with CNN around the same time in which he was seated alongside his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, Bezos said: “There’s not much I can say about that right now. But she does like football.”
It is not clear when the bidding process will be completed. Some of those connected to the process have rejected characterizations that the late-December target for bids requested by the investment bank was a firm deadline, saying the process is more fluid. That makes it difficult for other bidders to know whether Bezos is involved or not, or if he still could become more engaged. Front Office Sports reported Bezos’s lack of a bid Sunday.
The Commanders have said that Snyder and his wife Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, hired BofA Securities, a division of Bank of America, to consider potential transactions for the franchise. The Commanders have not specified whether the Snyders intend to sell all or part of the franchise. Four people familiar with the process said recently they believe a full sale is the most likely outcome. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the level of secrecy surrounding the deliberations being conducted by Bank of America.
In a public filing in November related to the incorporation process with the registrar of companies for England and Wales, the Snyders listed England as the country or state of which they are “usually” a resident. Daniel Snyder did not attend the Commanders’ season-ending game Jan. 8 against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
ank hired by Daniel Snyder moves forward on sale process for Commanders
Any sale of all or part of the team would have to be ratified by at least three-quarters of the league’s other team owners, giving them a measure of control over Snyder’s choice of a buyer.
The NFL is conducting its second investigation of Snyder and the Commanders, a probe being overseen by attorney Mary Jo White. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said in October that he and fellow owners should give serious consideration to voting to remove Snyder from ownership of the Commanders. That would require a vote of at least three-quarters of the owners. Multiple owners told The Post in September they believed that serious consideration would be given to attempting to oust Snyder from the NFL’s ownership ranks, either by convincing him to sell his franchise or by voting to remove him.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote last month in its final report on its Democratic-led investigation of the team’s workplace that Snyder “obstructed” the committee’s investigation and that he “permitted and participated” in “troubling conduct” in the team’s workplace. The report said Snyder gave evasive and “misleading” testimony to the committee in July.
The office of Karl A. Racine, then the Democratic attorney general of D.C., filed two civil lawsuits last year against the Commanders. Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) fined the team $250,000 for improperly withholding security deposits from ticket holders through a settlement with the Commanders. Investigators for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia have interviewed witnesses about allegations of financial improprieties involving the team, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. The office of Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares (R) also is investigating.