Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins Denver Broncos’ new ownership group

ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined the Denver Broncos’ new ownership group.

Rice, who also served as National Security Advisor and Stanford University Provost, grew up in Denver and received her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Denver.

In June, a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, which includes Walton’s daughter. Carrie Walton Penner; her husband, Greg Penner; and Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chairman of Starbucks Corp., agreed to purchase the Broncos for $4.65 billion.

In a statement Monday, Walton said: “We are pleased to welcome former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to our ownership group. A highly respected public official, accomplished academic and corporate leader, Secretary Rice is 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 was a member of the first College Football Playoff Committee. … Her unique experience and exceptional judgment will be of great benefit to our group and the Broncos organization.”

The sale of the team, paid at a record price for a North American sports franchise, is under review by the NFL and must be approved by a full vote of NFL owners in the coming weeks. 24 yes votes are required for the sale to be formally approved.

It was expected to take 60 to 90 days to approve the sale and close the deal.

The Walton-Bum group was one of four groups that advanced to the second round of bidding for the team in early June, according to multiple sources. The Broncos were one of the most successful franchises in the NFL during the Super Bowl era, with three Super Bowl victories under Pat Bowlen’s ownership, and they now have an ownership group with some of the deepest pockets.

Greg Penner and Carrie Walton Penner are expected to play prominent roles in the day-to-day running of the team, and current Broncos CEO Joe Ellis had expressed the importance of it since the team officially announced Feb. 1 Offered for sale is that the new owner will be “visible” in the community and understand the Broncos’ place in Denver, the state of Colorado and the region.

The sale of the team ended an eight-year odyssey since Bowlen retired from day-to-day operations of the team he had owned for 30 years in July 2014 due to the outbreak of Alzheimer’s disease. Bowlen died in 2019.

Bowlen has never officially declared a successor among his children, and by the time he stepped down he had put his interest in the team (estimated at about 78% at the time) into a trust owned by Ellis, Broncos attorney Rich Slivka and Denver Attorney Mary was supervising Kelly.

What followed included a legal battle between family members, harsh words and court dates that coincided with a recent six-year streak of playoff failures on the field. The team’s Super Bowl 50 win to close out the 2015 season was the Broncos’ final postseason game.

The sale agreement with the Walton-Penner group also means that Walton and Stan Kroenke, Walton’s cousin-in-law, will own five of Colorado’s six major professional sports franchises. Kroenke owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and Colorado Mammoth lacrosse teams in addition to a regional media company in the state. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins Denver Broncos’ new ownership group

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