The Bowlen era has come to an end in Denver.
NFL owners met Tuesday and unanimously voted in favor of a new Broncos ownership group led by Rob Walton, who agreed to pay $4.65 billion to the Bowlen family to purchase the team earlier this summer.
The late Pat Bowlen bought the team from Edgar Kaiser Jr. for $70 million in 1984. Denver’s NFL franchise went on to win three Super Bowls under Bowlen’s leadership before he died in 2019 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
After Bowlen’s death, the team was run by a trust led in part by team president/CEO Joe Ellis. Bowlen’s children could not agree on a controlling owner among them, so the trust put the team up for sale earlier this year.
Tuesday’s approved sale marks the end of the Bowlen ownership era. Here’s a quick look at the team’s new ownership group that will be led by Walton starting this season.
Rob Walton (77)
(Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)
Walton is the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Rob became Walmart’s vice chairman in 1982 and then assumed chairman of the board of directors duties following his father’s death in 1992. Walton held that role until 2015 when he retired. A accomplished businessman, Walton has an estimated net worth of about $60 billion, making him the wealthiest owner in the NFL.
Greg and Carrie Penner (52; 51)
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Rob Walton will become Denver’s new controlling owner but his son-in-law, Greg Penner, and his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, are expected to handle the team’s day-to-day ownership duties.
Greg became Walmart’s chairman in 2015 when Walton stepped down. In addition to his Walmart role, Greg is also the founder of Madrone Capital Partners.
Carrie has held key roles with the Walton Family Foundation and she is also involved with the KIPP Foundation, the Alliance for School Choice and the Charter School Growth Fund.
Mellody Hobson (53)
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Hobson was the first minority owner to be announced after the Walton-Penner family agreed to buy the team. Hobson is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments and she also serves on the board of companies including Starbucks and JPMorgan Chase. She is married to Star Wars creator George Lucas.
Condoleezza Rice (67)
(AP Photo/Doug Benc)
A lifelong football fan, Rice was the second woman to join the Walton-Penner group as a minority investor. She served as the 19th United States National Security Advisor from 2001-2005 and then as the 66th United States Secretary of State from 2005-2009. The daughter of a former football coach, Rice lived in Denver from high school through graduate school and she later served on the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee.
Lewis Hamilton (37)
(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Hamilton became the third minority owner to join the Walton-Penner group last week. He’s a seven-time Formula One champion with more than 100 race wins, making him one of the best drivers in the sport’s history. Lewis was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2021 in recognition of his racing success and off-track environmental and social activism.
More on the way?
(The Knoxville News Sentinel, USA TODAY Network)
Hobson, Rice and Hamilton were the first three additions to the Walton-Penner group, and it’s possible that more minority investors could be added down the road. Peyton Manning has been said to be a candidate to join the team as an advisor with the possibility of minority ownership as well.
For now, the known members of the team’s new ownership group are Rob Walton, Greg Penner, Carrie Penner, Mellody Hobson, Condoleezza Rice and Lewis Hamilton.