Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has hired an investment firm to evaluate a possible bid for the Washington Commanders, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Bezos is working with Allen & Company, a New York-based firm that is prominent in transactions involving professional sports franchises, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the deliberations.
It remains unclear whether Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, will make a bid to purchase Washington’s NFL team from owner Daniel Snyder. But his association with Allen & Company represents a concrete sign of his interest in conducting due diligence and potentially in moving forward in the process.
The firm handled the two most recent sales of NFL franchises, those involving the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. The Panthers were sold in 2018 by Jerry Richardson to David Tepper for $2.275 billion. The Broncos were sold last year by the Pat Bowlen Trust to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton for $4.65 billion, the record sale price for an NFL team.
A representative for Bezos declined to comment.
Josh Harris, potential Commanders buyer, visits team’s training facility
Snyder and his wife Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, announced in November that they’d hired Bank of America to consider possible transactions involving the Commanders. The team has not said whether the Snyders will sell all or part of the franchise. Four people familiar with the process said in December they believe that a sale of the entire franchise is the most likely outcome.
One potential buyer, Josh Harris, has visited the Commanders’ facility, two people familiar with the situation said earlier this month. Harris is the co-founder of Apollo Global Management and is the owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. He also is a general partner of the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace Football Club and a limited partner in the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
He grew up in Chevy Chase and attended the Field School in Northwest Washington. Harris, who has an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion, according to Forbes, attempted to purchase the Broncos last year.
Several groups submitted initial bids to purchase the Commanders before a late-December target requested by Bank of America, a person familiar with the process said last month. Bezos sat out that stage of the bidding, according to multiple people familiar with the process.
Bezos’s lack of involvement to this point potentially opened the door to other buyers, but since the Snyders’ November announcement, all interested parties have acknowledged that Bezos’s net worth, estimated at $118.8 billion by Forbes, would allow him to outbid all competitors.
NFL ownership rules, long a source of pride, may be limiting bidders
Bezos’s potential involvement first became clear in November. A person familiar with the situation said then that Bezos had interest in bidding on the team, possibly with music mogul Jay-Z as an investor.
Donald E. Graham utilized Allen & Company when his family sold The Post to Bezos in 2013 for $250 million.
Any proposed sale of the Commanders would have to be ratified by at least three-quarters of the NFL’s team owners.
“As far as the [sale] process, the Commanders are under a process,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in Phoenix during Super Bowl week. “That’s their process. Ultimately if they reach a conclusion and have someone that will be joining the ownership group or buying the team entirely, that’s something that the ownership will look at.”
The bidding process is taking place while the NFL conducting its second investigation of Snyder and the team’s workplace, this one being led by attorney Mary Jo White. The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia also is investigating allegations of financial improprieties involving the team.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said in October he and fellow owners should give serious consideration to voting to remove Snyder from ownership, which would require the approval of at least three-fourths of the owners. Multiple owners told The Post in September they believed serious consideration would be given to attempting to oust Snyder from the ownership ranks, either by convincing him to sell or by voting to remove him.