Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is alerting NFL officials that his asking price for the team is $6 billion, a move that will significantly limit the number of bidders and puts billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in the pole position to buy the team, FOX Business has learned.
Bezos is said to be interested in buying the team, according to people familiar with his thinking, and has hired investment bankers to explore a possible bid. NFL officials are said to want him as an owner, these people say, because he may be best able to meet Snyder's price demands and league rules where a team owner must hold 30 percent in equity as part of any buyout. Bezos is one of the world's richest men, worth $120 billion, much of it liquid and a chunk of it in Amazon stock.
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A representative for Bezos didn't return an email for comment. Press officials for the Commanders and the NFL had no immediate comment.
Other potential bidders for the famed franchise, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, include Josh Harris, a co-founder of private equity firm Apollo Global, who now runs Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment. Harris Blitzer owns sports properties like the Philadelphia 76ers, and Harris is estimated to be worth $6.2 billion. That said, it's unclear he has the capital to get in a bidding war with someone of Bezos' enormous wealth.
Bezos, who stepped down as CEO of Amazon in 2021, remains the executive chairman of the ubiquitous on-line retailer that has recently ventured into sports programming through its Amazon Prime platform, including the NFL's Thursday night football. He is said to be a huge football fan as is his girlfriend, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, who shares a son with NFL great Tony Gonzalez.
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Bezos also owns the Washington Post newspaper, but is said to be growing wary of the business that is facing losses amid a slump in digital ads as the economy slows. Some NFL sources say Bezos is looking to sell the Post to devote his time to running the Commanders. One prospective buyer, they say, could be Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, philanthropist and billionaire owner of Bloomberg LP, a media and financial information powerhouse.
A rep for Bloomberg had no immediate comment.
League sources say Bezos could bring in partners but remain the principal owner and take the lead in running the team. One name speculated in NFL circles is the famed rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z. A spokesman for Jay-Z had no immediate comment.
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Snyder is under tremendous pressure to sell the team after allegations and a league investigation into a toxic workplace environment on the business side of the Commanders. Amid the controversy he has stepped away from some of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the team, and has appointed his wife Tanya as co-CEO.
That said Snyder is telling league officials his asking price isn't cheap; he bought the team in 1999 for a then-record $800 million and now wants at least $6 billion. League officials are carefully eying the list of potential buyers and have recognized that his price demands significantly narrows the field of potential bidders to maybe just Bezos. Meanwhile, if Bezos does meet Synder's high bar, he would be greatly enhancing the value all league franchises given the way NFL teams are assessed.
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"Snyder wants at least $6 billion. That means to meet the league equity, you need $2 billion in cash," said one sports executive with direct knowledge of the process. "Who has that type of dough laying around but Jeff Bezos?"