Two groups – one led by billionaire Josh Harris and another by Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos – have formally submitted bids to purchase the Washington Commanders, marking a significant step toward longtime owner Daniel Snyder’s potential sale of the team.
ESPN first reported Tuesday that the fully financed bids both meet Snyder’s “asking price” of $6 billion. If either is accepted by Snyder and approved by NFL owners, it would shatter the previous record sale price for an NFL franchise of $4.65 billion, set last year in Rob Walton and Greg Penner’s purchase of the Denver Broncos.
Forbes has valued the Commanders at $5.6 billion.
Spokespeople for Harris and the Commanders declined to comment to USA TODAY Sports, while attempts to reach spokespeople for Apostolopoulos were unsuccessful.
Harris has long been in the mix as a potential bidder for the Commanders. He expressed interest in purchasing the Broncos prior to last year’s sale, per multiple reports, and is part of ownership groups for several other sports franchises, including the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
Billionaire Mitchell Rales and NBA legend Magic Johnson are also part of Harris’ potential ownership group. Rales, like Harris, grew up in the Washington area.
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta also is in the picture as potential bidders, according to The Associated Press.
News of the Harris group’s bid came on the final day of the NFL annual league meeting in Phoenix, and roughly five months after the Commanders announced that Snyder and his wife, Tanya, had hired a bank to explore “potential transactions” with the team.
“I think he’s put the team up for sale. I believe that something is close to happening,” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters Monday. “I don’t know that for sure. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
Snyder’s family purchased the team in 1999. In recent years, he and the Commanders have been the subject of numerous investigations regarding allegations of workplace harassment, misconduct and financial impropriety. Two of those probes have been commissioned by the NFL and one, led by Mary Jo White, is ongoing.
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.