Pro Athletes Among Group Trying to Raise $4B in Cryptocurrency to Buy Denver Broncos

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 20, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Detail view of the Denver Broncos logo seen at the Super Bowl Experience on February 08, 2022, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Businessman Sean O'Brien has helped create the "BuyTheBroncos" decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which aims to raise $4 billion in cryptocurrency for bidding to purchase the NFL's Denver Broncos franchise.

CNBC's MacKenzie Sigalos reported Saturday the group of "crypto enthusiasts" already includes attorneys, accountants, software developers and pro athletes ahead of the DAO's launch in March.

"We know it sounds a bit crazy, but it's also a bit badass," O'Brien told CNBC. "The purpose essentially is to establish an infrastructure so that fans from all walks of life can be owners of the Denver Broncos." 

The Pat Bowlen Trust announced Feb. 1 the Broncos were being put up for sale by the family following Bowlen's death in June 2019.

"Selling an NFL team is a complex process involving numerous parties and league approval procedures. Nonetheless, the trustees hope to have the sale completed by the start of the 2022 NFL season," the Trust said in a statement.

Several groups have begun to form ahead of the bidding process, including two that feature Hall of Fame quarterbacks who played for Denver: John Elway and Peyton Manning.

"BuyTheBroncos" organizers told CNBC they'll initially try to raise the entire $4 billion, with a backup plan of raising a percentage of the funds and then joining an established, more conventional group to become a stakeholder in a joint bid.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he's intrigued by the idea and would be willing to help organizers get involved in the sale process, though he can't influence the Bowlen Trust's final decision.

"I can't play favorites," Polis told CNBC. "Obviously, whoever buys the team, we're totally—as a state, we want to have a good owner—but this would be really noteworthy for Colorado if they could pull this off."

O'Brien is hopeful the bid, even if it's unsuccessful, brings more attention to the DAO space, which he believes can make a "tangible connection between this web3 life and the real world."

"While having a fan-owned Denver Broncos in a DAO-based system would be amazing, that isn't our final goal," he told CNBC. "... Our thought is that it accelerates DAO adoption for solving real-world problems such as food scarcity or unhoused peoples."

While Forbes listed the Broncos as the league's 10th-most valuable franchise in its 2021 rankings with an estimated value of $3.75 billion, the infrequency with which NFL teams become available could cause the final sale price to skyrocket. The Carolina Panthers were the last team up for sale in 2017.

The heavy fluctuation of crypto prices could also be a factor. One Bitcoin, the most prominent cryptocurrency, is worth just over $38,200 as of Sunday morning. That's a 44.6 percent drop from its all-time high of $68,990 in November—just four months ago.

So far, the Bowlen Trust hasn't said whether it will accept crypto bids on par with standard proposals, but it sounds like the sale process will move swiftly over the next few months ahead of the 2022 season, so answers could come shortly.