Mellody Hobson first Black woman to own part of an NFL team

The NFL’s Denver Broncos and the Walton-Penner family recently announced they have entered into a purchase and sale agreement valued by industry sources at a record $4.56 billion. 

The purchasing group also includes Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments LLC, making her the first Black woman with ownership in the NFL. 

The Walton-Penner family includes Rob Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton Penner and her husband Greg Penner. The Waltons are heirs to retail giant Walmart Inc.’s fortune; Rob Walton was Walmart’s chairman from 1992 to 2015.

The deal calls for the Walton-Penner family to acquire the Denver Broncos from the Pat Bowlen Trust. The agreement is subject to approval from the NFL's finance committee and league ownership as well as the satisfaction of customary closing procedures.

"I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process,” said Joe Ellis, president and CEO, Broncos. “Learning more about their background and vision for the Denver Broncos, I am confident that their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.

"I sincerely appreciate the cooperation of our football leadership, executive team and staffs at both UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High over the last few months and years,” he continued. “We also want to recognize the work of Allen & Company and Proskauer Rose, which have guided us through this process in a timely and efficient manner.”

Ellis added, "While this purchase and sale agreement is pending approval from the NFL's finance committee and league ownership, today marks a significant step on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history."

Rob Walton, speaking on behalf of The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group, said, "We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos! Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.

"Having lived and worked in Colorado, we've always admired the Broncos,” he continued. “Our enthusiasm has only grown as we've learned more about the team, staff and Broncos Country over the last few months.

He added, "We are excited to announce that Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments, has agreed to join our ownership group. Beyond her role at Ariel, Mellody is an influential leader in corporate and civic organizations across the nation.

"Mellody currently serves as chair of the board of Starbucks Corp. and is also a director of JPMorgan Chase [&Co.]. We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team.

"Thank you to Joe Ellis and the staff of the Broncos for the first-class manner in which they have conducted this sale process. In addition, we thank Hogan Lovells for their guidance and support in this effort.

"We look forward to earning the confidence and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process. When the necessary approval procedures are met, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community."


NFL’s Denver Broncos Walton-Penner family Ariel Investments LLC NFL Rob Walton Carrie Walton Penner Greg Penner Walmart Inc Pat Bowlen Trust Joe Ellis Broncos UCHealth Training Center Empower Field Mile High Allen & Company Proskauer Rose Colorado Broncos Country Starbucks Corp. JPMorgan Chase Hogan Lovells Mellody Hobson

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