“We’re pleased to welcome former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to our ownership group,” Rob Walton ,who leads the group, said in a statement shared by the team on Monday (July 11). “A highly respected public servant, accomplished academic and corporate leader, Secretary Rice is well known as a passionate and knowledgeable football fan who has worked to make the sport stronger and better. She is the daughter of a football coach and served on the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee. She moved to Denver with her family when she was 12 years old and went on to attend the University of Denver for both college and graduate school. Her unique experience and extraordinary judgment will be a great benefit to our group and the Broncos organization.”
Rice served as Secretary of State under former President George W. Bush from 2005-2009 and later served as one of the 13 members of the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee, having held the position until the conclusion of the 2016 college football season.
Rice had also previously been rumored to be part of the Cleveland Browns’ coaching search in 2018, which she has since publicly denied.
On June 7, the Broncos confirmed they’d entered a sale agreement with the Walton-Penner family ownership group in a statement shared by team president and CEO Joe Ellis.
“While this purchase and sale agreement is pending approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership, today marks a significant step on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history,” Ellis said via DenverBroncos.com.
The Walton-Penner group is led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, his daughter, Carrie, and his son-in-law, Greg Penner, and will also include “one or two” of his grandchildren, Mike Klis of KUSA-TV reports.
“We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos!” Rob Walton said on behalf of the Walton-Penner family ownership group via DenverBroncos.com. “Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.
Additionally, Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson, a Black businesswoman who also serves as Chair of the Board of the Starbucks Corporation and as a director of JPMorgan Chase, will join the Broncos’ new ownership group, Walton confirmed.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had previously encouraged the Broncos to sell to a diverse ownership group when Hollywood mogul Byron Allen was linked to the team in February and would have become the first Black majority owner in NFL history if he acquired at least 30% of the franchise.
“We are excited to announce that Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, has agreed to join our ownership group,” Walton said. “Beyond her role at Ariel, Mellody is an influential leader in corporate and civic organizations across the nation.”
“Thank you to Joe Ellis and the staff of the Broncos for the first-class manner in which they have conducted this sale process,” Walton added. “In addition, we thank Hogan Lovells for their guidance and support in this effort.
“We look forward to earning the confidence and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process. When the necessary approval procedures are met, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community.”