NFL

Magic Johnson confirms bid on Commanders; Jeff Bezos spoke with Dan Snyder and has seen the team’s financials

News about the sale of the Washington Commanders had slowed down since last week’s NFL owners meetings, but a Magic Johnson interview on the Today show brought the story some national headlines. Johnson confirmed that he is part of the Josh Harris/Mitchell Rales group that reportedly placed a $6 billion bid on the team. He said they are hoping Snyder takes their bid, and he’s looking forward to adding a Super Bowl ring to his collection.

The Harris/Rales/Johnson group is considered the favorites to purchase the team from the small collection of billionaires who have submitted bids. Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos has also reportedly placed a bid in the $6 billion range, but there were questions about his financing for the deal. There isn’t much known about a potential group he’s forming with fellow Canadian real estate businessmen. Tillman Fertitta also reportedly placed a $5.5 billion bid earlier in the process, but he hasn’t toured the team’s stadium and headquarters like the other groups.

The whale in the room that people keep trying to avoid is the possible interest of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He hasn’t submitted an official bid, but had reportedly signed an NDA and hired a firm for a possible purchase of the team. The general reasoning for people that want Bezos to buy the team is that he doesn’t need to go through the normal bidding process due to his immense wealth. The reported issue was the Snyder’s animosity towards Bezos due to his ownership of the Washington Post, and their relentless coverage of Snyder and the team.

A new report from Puck News last night shed some more light onto Bezos mindset and his actions that could lead to a bid, and purchase of the team.

  • Bezos was poking around the team two years ago:

In early 2021, around the time that he stepped down as C.E.O. of Amazon, Bezos dispatched Paul Dauber, his right hand in all his personal business affairs, to poke around the team.

  • Bezos has seen the team’s financials and spoke with Dan Snyder

His interest was not merely an idle fancy—he was absolutely intrigued, I’m told. Bezos could have done this himself, but in a sign of his commitment, he decided to hire a team at Allen & Co.—Steve Greenberg, Terry Morris and Mike Melnitzky—to explore an offer. The Allen sports team lacks extensive buy-side experience, as several peers noted, but are known for their discretion. Bezos and Allen were granted a nondisclosure agreement to peruse the team’s financials (although Bezos, unlike other NDA’d prospective buyers, didn’t tour the facilities). According to a person briefed on the conversation, Bezos also spoke directly with Snyder sometime around the holidays.

  • Snyder won’t turn down a Bezos offer that is significantly more than the others

“If you fucking tell me that Bezos puts in a bid that is $250 million more than anybody else and Dan won’t take it, you’re smoking dope,” said one person who knows Snyder well. “Dan will give Bezos a piggyback ride around the building on opening day next year for $250 million, okay?”

  • NFL owners want a big Bezos bid

One dealmaker told me that he had spoken with four NFL owners recently, and that all of them had voiced excitement about welcoming Bezos into the club. “They’re hoping every day that he comes in with a crazy number.”

A.J. Perez from Front Office Sports has been covering the potential sale of the Washington Commanders and has also reported the interest from Bezos. He says the timetable for Dan Snyder to accept a bid still has some time, and the world’s third-richest person still has time to bid on the team.

Sources told Front Office Sports that the current deadline for Commanders owner Dan Snyder to pick a winning bidder remains weeks — not days — away.

Also the May 12th “deadline” related to signing bonus payouts in deals signed during this offseason wasn’t real.

Sources said the current target to select a bidder is ahead of the start of the next owners meetings on May 22 — a day before the Commanders start their voluntary offseason workouts, also known as organized team activities.

There had been some speculation that May 12 was a target date after The Athletic reported that players signed this offseason had their signing bonuses pushed back to that date.

But a source told FOS that it’s not unusual for teams to pay out signing bonuses in May: “People are guessing.”

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