The Denver Broncos NFL franchise is expected to be sold this off-season, and Black billionaire Robert Smith is emerging as a candidate to buy the team.
According to Front Office Sports, Smith has emerged as a possible bidder to purchase the Broncos and could become the first Black owner of an NFL franchise. Smith, a 59-year-old entrepreneur who grew up in Denver, is the richest Black person in the US with an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion.
The Broncos were valued at $3.75 billion last year, and their sale is expected to net more than $4 billion, which would make it the most expensive team sale in US sports history.
Smith founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000 and is still its chairman and CEO. Vista currently has $86 billion in assets under wealth management.
According to Denver Gazette Columnist Woody Paige, other potential buyers of the Broncos include Amazon Founder and Chairman Jeff Bezos, former Broncos quarterback and current General Manager John Elway, and former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, are also in groups trying to buy the team.
Smith made headlines in 2019 when he gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College and pledged to pay off the student loans of the entire graduating class, nearly 400 students. The pledge ended up costing Smith $34 million.
According to Bleacher Report, if the Broncos go up for sale, it would likely be through an auction because the team is owned under the Patrick D. Bowlen trust. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported the trustees “would have a fiduciary responsibility to the trust’s beneficiaries to go with the highest bidder, pending approval from 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners.”
The beneficiaries of the trust are Bowlen’s seven children and his brother.
This season, the Broncos did not qualify for the playoffs, finishing fourth in the AFC West with a 7-10 record, losing each of their last four games. The team has failed to make the playoffs in the last six years since they won Super Bowl 50 in 2016 against the Carolina Panthers.