Who is Josh Harris the man set to purchase the Washington Commanders from Dan Snyder?
Following a number of bids including one from Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, the Commanders will finally have a new owner as the sale has been agreed in principle.
The Commanders owner had been under pressure to sell the team following a series of damning reports about his workplace conduct, which in turn led to investigations into the organization. With the sale now set to be completed, perhaps the franchise can once again focus on what it should: Football.
Josh Harris set to become new Commanders owner
According to reports, the Washington Commanders have an agreement in principle for Josh Harris and his group to purchase the franchise for $6 billion. To be clear, the sale will represent the most expensive in the history of the NFL, with the previous record being the $4.65 billion sale of the Denver Broncos, when the team was purchased by the Walton-Penner group.
An important point to note here, however, is that regardless of any agreement that may be in place, there is still a major formality that must be completed i.e., the sale must be approved by three-quarters of NFL ownership. To that end, it’s understood that owners who are already scheduled to convene in May for a regular spring meeting could potentially vote on final approval at that time. Where Harris is concerned, he’s certainly no stranger to the league having previously bid for the Denver Broncos himself, which is to say the process could be expedited due to said familiarity. Interestingly, Harris whose group reportedly includes fellow billionaire Mitchell Rales as well as Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Magic Johnson, is no stranger to sports ownership. He currently owns both the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
Who is Josh Harris?
Following the completion of his Master of Business Administration at Harvard University, Harris made his first foray into the world equity by co-founding Apollo Global Management with fellow billionaires Leon Black and Mark Rowan in 1990. Under his direction, the firm invested $2 billion in 2008 in the chemical company, LyondellBasll, which led to a profit of $9.6 billion in 2013 when the shares were sold. Interestingly, Harris was asked by then President Donald Trump in 2017 to serve on an infrastructure task force. It is understood that Apollo later lent $184 million to adviser, Jared Kushner’s real estate firm, Kushner Companies. An avid philanthropist, the 58-year-old no longer has a day-to-day role in Apollo, preferring instead to dedicate his time to both youth development and the world of sport, which obviously includes his function in the management of the two above-mentioned franchises that he owns. Where the 76ers specifically are concerned, it’s worth noting that the franchise’s value has quintupled, since it was bought by Harris’ consortium for $290 million in 2011.
How did we get to this point?
If you were following, you might have seen that Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos was also involved in the bidding process, however, there were early concerns about whether he could in fact fund a bid that would meet the requirements for approval by the league. There was also a reported bid from Houston Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, which was said to be in the realm of $5.6 million, some $400 million short of the $6 billion asking price, a fact that was said to be the problem. That of course brings us to Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, who according to reports this week officially pulled out of the running. What’s interesting, is that as the third richest man in the world, Bezos could easily afford the franchise, however, following reports that Dan Snyder himself had no interest in entertaining Bezos’ offer, the idea seemed to lose steam.
There have also been reports that Bezos’ involvement was simply a strategic way of driving up the price. “If I’m the league, the longer I can keep him as a stalking horse, the better,” a source said. Either way, the fact remains that it’s now all about Josh Harris. What remains to be seen is whether or not this will allow the franchise to get back winning ways in the near future, something they haven’t managed to do in some time now.