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A closer look at Broncos ownership candidate Josh Harris

Josh Harris is the controlling owner of the NBA's  Philadelphia 76ers and NHL's New Jersey Devils.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There are common threads connecting the Denver Broncos’ remaining ownership candidates that help explain why billionaires from various business sectors are willing to invest $4 billion, $4.5 billion, or maybe even $5 billion to buy Denver’s NFL franchise.

Josh Harris has competed in triathlons and marathons. He ran the 2010 New York City Marathon in a time of 3 hours, 53 minutes, 41 seconds – an impressive pace of 8 minutes, 54 seconds over the 26.2-mile course. Rob Walton, another Broncos’ ownership candidate, and former Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen, were also endurance-sports participants.

Harris was also a high school wrestler, as was Todd Boehly, another Broncos’ ownership candidate. Walton was an all-state football player.

Harris is the controlling owner of the NBA Philadelphia 76ers and NHL New Jersey Devils. Boehly is part-owner of the MLB Los Angeles Dodgers and NBA Lakers. Both are trying to purchase both the Broncos and the Chelsea Premier League soccer team.

Walton is a pilot and once raced vintage sports cars.

By all accounts, all are extremely competitive, well-educated and have a knack for taking calculated but successful risks.

9NEWS has previously profiled Walton and Boehly.

RELATED: A look at Broncos ownership candidate Rob Walton

RELATED: A closer look at Broncos ownership candidate Todd Boehly

Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
In this Feb. 24, 2018 photo, Josh Harris is shown during ceremonies before a hockey game in Newark, N.J.

Now it’s time to look at Harris:

It was through Leon Black that Harris’ professional career took a major leap. Black was the founder of Apollo Global Management, a publicly-traded firm which invests primarily in distressed properties, in 1990. The firm is where Harris officially became a partner of Black’s to the point he was given the distinction of Apollo co-founder, and where Harris attained the bulk of his wealth. Harris’ net worth is listed at $7.6 billion by Bloomberg – up from $1.2 billion in 2011 when he bought the 76ers.

Here’s an example of Harris’ shrewd business acumen:  

Since 2008, Apollo had reportedly invested $2 billion into LyondellBasell, a chemical maker. Last November, Apollo sold billions of dollars of shares in LyondellBasell and came away with about $12 billion, an astonishing return. Harris, who is still involved in Apollo’s day-to-day decisions, reportedly earned $397 million from Apollo last year.

While Black may have helped pave the way to riches for Harris, the latter has done extremely well on his own – with the help of partners Michael Rubin, who Bloomberg says is worth $9.44 billion, and David Blitzer, who is worth $1.3 billion.

The Harris and Blitzer Sports & Entertainment group, which includes Rubin, bought the Philadelphia 76ers for $280 million in 2011 and the New Jersey Devils plus the Prudential Center for $320 million in 2013. They bought 18% of the Premier League’s Crystal Palace soccer team in 2015, and got 5% stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020 – replacing the share David Tepper held until he bought the Carolina Panthers in 2018.

It would appear Harris, 57, would like nothing better to join Stan Kroenke, who is the only owner of an NBA (Nuggets), NHL (Avalanche), NBA-NHL sports arena (Ball Arena), Premier League (Arsenal) and NFL (Rams) franchises. Kroenke's wife, Ann Walton, is the niece of Rob Walton.

Harris (1986) and Blitzer are graduates of Penn, specifically its Wharton School. Harris later received his MBA from the Harvard Business School and soon thereafter hooked up with Black to help form Apollo. (Black stepped down as Apollo CEO last year in part because of his former business ties with late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein).

Rubin’s Fanatics is said to be the world's largest retailer of officially licensed sports memorabilia. Fanatics also owns Candy Digital, which digitally controls valuable sports art memorabilia or non-fungible tokens (NFT). It has been reported that former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has made a sizeable investment in Candy Digital.

Harris grew up in Chevy Chase, MD. He and his wife Marjorie and their five children reportedly moved from New York City to Miami during the pandemic in 2020.

In 2019, Josh and Marjorie gave a $10 million gift to the Penn’s Wharton School to establish an alternative investments program. Marjorie Harris also chairs the Sixers Youth Foundation, which creates various opportunities for Philadelphia’s youth. Harris Philanthropies, also started by Josh and Marjorie, is a charitable foundation that helps underserved youth in high-need communities through sports and education.

While Rob Walton’s reported net worth of $70 billion would seem to make him the favorite to wind up with the Broncos, who are up sale via auction, Harris and his partners have much greater experience in winning sports franchise bids. The Harris group is strong enough to make this a two-horse race for Broncos ownership – with Boehly also putting together a strong bid.

Broncos podcast: Klis' Mike Drop

Denver Broncos headlines, game previews and interviews with our 9NEWS insider Mike Klis.

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