ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A source tells 9NEWS that one of the remaining ownership candidates to buy the Denver Broncos is Byron Allen, the comedian, actor and media tycoon.
The source said Allen is backed by a handful of investors with deep pockets to help in his bid. Allen and his group are expected to visit the Broncos stadium and practice facility in the near future -- as at least two other known bidders, Josh Harris and Rob Walton, have already done in recent days.
A source familiar with the Broncos' ownership sale via auction told 9NEWS last week that 10 investment groups submitted first-round bids, after which the second-round field was narrowed to five. Another source told 9NEWS this week the number of ownership groups under consideration is fluid, and there could be more than five groups.
Harris, who owns the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL's New Jersey Devils, was the first group in to visit the Broncos last Thursday and Friday. One of his minority investors is Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who did not accompany the Harris group on the Broncos' tour last week. A source told 9NEWS that Johnson's financial commitment with the Harris group is greater than the $50 million stake he has with the Dodgers.
Walton, oldest son of Walmart chairman Sam Walton and Walmart's chairman for 23 years from 1992-2015, and his group were in visiting Monday. Walton's group includes his son-in-law Greg Penner, who took over as Walmart's chairman in 2015 and still serves in that capacity.
Todd Boehly, who holds a significant if minority interest in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers, is also still in on the Broncos even though he is wrapping negotiations to buy the Chelsea soccer team in London for a reported $4.25 billion (American dollars).
There are other unidentified groups still in as potential Broncos buyers, but 9NEWS learned Thursday that Allen is still under consideration. It's unclear whether Allen would be the controlling owner of his group, but if he is and his bid were successful, he would become the NFL's first Black owner.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly stated the league strongly encourages greater minority representation among the 32 ownership groups, including the Broncos, who are up for sale through the Pat Bowlen Trust. Pat Bowlen had been the Broncos' owner from 1984 until he was declared incapacitated from Alzheimer's in December 2013.
Bowlen died in June 2019 from complications of Alzheimer's.
Allen, 60, would arguably be the most famous of potential Broncos bidders. He has had national television exposure since he was 18 and doing a standup comedy routine on the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." He later starred in the television show, "Real People" from 1979 to 1984.
He has since formed his own company, Allen Media Group, which owns the Weather Channel and 21 local television stations across the country from Honolulu to Huntsville. While Allen does not appear to have the net value of the Walton, Harris or Boehly groups, he does have enough money from his investment partners, according to a source, to put together a competitive bid on the Broncos.
The team is expected to command a final price tag in the $4 billion to $5 billion range.
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