Rob Walton, Walmart Heir, Reportedly Bidding to Buy Broncos

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 9, 2022

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - JUNE 1: Rob Walton speaks during the annual Walmart shareholders meeting event on June 1, 2018 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The shareholders week brings thousands of shareholders and associates from around the world to meet at the company's  global headquarters. (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)
Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images

Billionaire Rob Walton is reportedly considered the favorite to purchase the NFL's Denver Broncos.

Walton, who is a Walmart heir and worth $70 billion, is expected to submit an opening bid of at least $4 billion before Friday's team-imposed deadline, according to Josh Kosman of the New York Post.

Notably, Walton is cousins with Ann Walton Kroenke, whose husband Stan Kroenke owns the Los Angeles Rams.

Kosman noted that Walton has emerged as the favorite despite the NFL making a significant play to convince Robert F. Smith to buy the franchise.

Smith is the CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, and he is the richest Black person in the United States. Per Kosman, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft are among those who have spoken to Smith about becoming the NFL's first Black owner.

The league is reportedly hoping to change its image after Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL that alleges racial discrimination in hiring practices. Two other Black coaches, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton, have since joined the lawsuit after its initial filing. 

Kosman added that it is now unclear if Smith will even submit an offer, and if he does, the expectation is that Walton will outbid him and anyone else.

All signs point toward the Bowlen family's sale of the Broncos shattering the record for the most-expensive acquisition of a professional sports team.

That distinction currently belongs to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets at $2.3 billion, followed by the NFL's Carolina Panthers at $2.2 billion.

The late Pat Bowlen purchased the Broncos for $78 million in 1984, so it is fair to say his investment paid off.

After Bowlen bought the team, the Broncos went on to reach the Super Bowl seven times, winning three of them. Success has largely eluded the franchise in recent years, however.

The Broncos have not reached the playoffs since 2015, but after acquiring quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, they are a team on the rise.

That, coupled with the overall value of NFL franchises, should ensure a massive investment from Walton or whoever ends up purchasing the Broncos.