The Rock, Dany Garcia, RedBird Capital Buy McMahon's XFL for $15M

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

Dwayne
Credit:Hiram Garcia

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and business partner Dany Garcia partnered with Gerry Cardinale's RedBird Capital to purchase the XFL for $15 million Monday.

"The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that's rooted deeply in two things—my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans," Johnson said in a statement. "With pride and gratitude for all that I've built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football."

Scott Soshnik of Sportico broke terms of the deal, which came just before the league and its assets were set to go up for auction. Vince McMahon's football league filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the inaugural season of the upstart's return.

"For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity. It is the confluence of great passion, tradition and possibility" said Garcia, who is also Johnson's ex-wife. "Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built. Melding our expertise combined with our commitment  to deliver exciting and inspiring unique content, has us all focused on developing the XFL brand into a multi-media experience that our athletes, partners and fans will proudly embrace and love."

McMahon announced the relaunch of the XFL in January 2018, hoping to capitalize on the market for spring football and the popularity of the 30 for 30 documentary about the original XFL, which also folded after one season. The WWE chairman said he was prepared to invest as much as $500 million in the league and divested some of his shares in the wrestling company to make it happen.

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The XFL launched with eight teams in February, with impressive viewership (3.1 million) that quickly dwindled. By the time the league ceased operations five weeks into the season, the league had dropped below one million viewers for some broadcasts.

McMahon filed for bankruptcy protection in April, a month after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the league to stop play. It is not believed that existing television contracts with ESPN/ABC and Fox will be honored, though that could change with Johnson at the helm of the new group.

The XFL said it had between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities at the time of its bankruptcy filing.