Who owns the Denver Broncos? AFC team's ownership history

Denver Broncos Introduce Peyton Manning
Denver Broncos Introduce Peyton Manning

The Denver Broncos have been at the center of fervent speculation as rumors fly of various parties interested in buying the franchise. Names have been floated like former Denver Broncos Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning. Jay-Z has also cropped up as a potential buyer, and if there is any local business for sale, Jeff Bezos is always reported to be having a sniff.

So, where are all the rumors coming from? What is the background? Why are the owners of the 10th most valuable franchise at 3.75 billion USD looking to sell up? Let's look at the ownership structure and history to understand what's going on.

Denver Broncos ownership structure and history

The Denver Broncos franchise began operations in 1960 as a charter member of the AFL. Their initial owner was minor league baseball owner Bob Howsam. A year later they were purchased by George Phipps, a construction magnate. During the first decade of its existence, the team was not successful and many a time, they were teetering on the edge of collapse, only to be rescued by local groups. Canadian financier Edgar Kaiser Jr. bought the team in 1981 before Pat Bowlen purchased the Denver Broncos in 1984.

It was under Pat Bowlen that the Denver Broncos became the franchise they are today. Recognized as one of the best NFL owners, he unfortunately had to relinquish control to an ownership group managed by his estate after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The estate, which includes his family and brothers, continues to own the Denver Broncos to this day.

Current CEO Joe Ellis has said that the Denver Broncos are not up for sale this season. However, he has also said that there will be a timeline discussed for a possible sale after the conclusion of the current season. It is this pronouncement that has got tongues wagging.

If indeed the sale were to go through, any bidder would have to cough up 3.75 billion USD minimum to purchase the team as per current valuation. Indeed, if Pat Bowlen's estate sells the franchise, they will stand to earn handsome amounts as per the current shares they hold.

The 7 children own 80% of the equally divided shares cumulatively. In addition to that, John Bowlen, brother of the late Pat Bowlen, also has above 20% non-voting shares and he also stands to gain from a prospective sale.

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Edited by Henno van Deventer
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