DENVER—First, his brother and lifelong business partner, Pat Bowlen, was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.
Then John Bowlen lost his Western Canada oil and gas company last year, and he realized his days as the Denver Broncos’ minority owner were numbered.
John Bowlen is now wanting to sell his 31 to 35 percent minority interest in the team, according to his wife, Kerry -- a minority share that does not include any voting rights. The Denver Post first reported John Bowlen's desire to sell.
The Bowlen Trust owns 65 to nearly 70 percent of the Broncos and 100 percent control of the team.
And now John Bowlen apparently wants to sell that minority interest.
“I want to make this very, very clear: This has nothing to do with what Joe or Rich are doing,’’ Kerry Bowlen, John’s wife, said in an interview with 9NEWS. “There’s no animosity at all. It’s just John and Pat were always partners. And now that Pat is no longer involved with running the team, it’s just purely time to go. Let a new owner come in. And for us financially, spiritually, it’s time as well.’’
The Broncos put a statement that softened John Bowlen's desire to sell and also addressed The Denver Post assertion that his desire to sell was the because he was dissatisfied with the Trust's succession.
“Broncos Minority Owner John Bowlen, accompanied by his advisor, indicated at our Sept. 18 board meeting that he is extremely pleased with the way the organization is being operated under Joe Ellis in the absence of his brother, Owner Pat Bowlen.
“John has never made any statements to the contrary, and at this meeting, he voiced his full support for the contract extensions given to Ellis and other key team executives.''
Hold on there. The statement revealed Ellis just received formal approval for a contract extension.
The Broncos added in their statement: "John also indicated that although he is not actively looking to sell his minority, non-voting stake in the team, he recently was approached by someone who expressed interest in his share of the team. ...
“As it relates to Owner Pat Bowlen’s controlling interest of the Denver Broncos, it is not for sale. The Pat Bowlen Trust is continuing to execute Pat’s succession plan with the hope of keeping the team in the Bowlen family.”
Kerry Bowlen said John had lost his family business, Regent Resources Ltd., that had been started by John and Pat Bowlen’s father Paul Bowlen, to bankruptcy in November 2016.
“It was a devastating loss,’’ Kerry Bowlen said.
As for the majority interest and full voting control of the Broncos, the trustees are running the team until one of Pat Bowlen’s seven children is deemed to have earned the right to run the club.
Ellis, with John Elway overseeing the football operations department, has been running the day-to-day operations of the Broncos since 2011.
The Broncos’ franchise is believed to worth more than $2 billion, so 35 percent of the franchise would come in at $700 million-plus. Complicating that sale is that minority interest comes with no voting rights.
“I think [having no voting rights] complicates [the sale] but if somebody has the passion to be involved with a team of this caliber I don't think it makes or breaks a deal,'' Kerry Bowlen said.