Super Bowling For Cash With The NFL Billionaires Club

Amid the comic awakening of dueling national anthems, virtue-signalling TV commercials, and rappers touching their private parts during halftime festivities, it’s easy to forget that the Super Bowl and the NFL are big business, run by some of the most powerful businessmen (yes, they are mostly men) in America.

Spending for the Super Bowl last week was about $15 billion; the league’s annual revenue is approaching $20 billion. The league’s profits are likely to continue to grow given the popularity of this sometimes brutal and increasingly lucrative sport.

However, covering the NFL billionaires club is difficult. His thirst for money and power is filtered through carefully staged events and announcements by the NFL’s image-obsessed commissioner, Roger Goodell.

It’s mostly propaganda, of course. But if you crack the code, you quickly understand that Goodell’s obsession with waking up, endless Kumbaya on racial issues, etc. It’s a difficult smokescreen to get through.

Although not impossible. I’ve often gotten a sneak peek into this secretive world through events like the owners’ annual “Inner Circle Tailgate Party.” It happens once a year before the Super Bowl. He is largely hidden from the mob attending the big game, in a private room a short distance from the stadium where the game is taking place.

Dr. Oz, Woody Johnson and Josh Harris attend Michael Rubin’s 2023 Super Bowl Fanatics Party at the Arizona Biltmore on February 11, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Getty Images for fans

There’s good food, lots of drink, and incredible gossip behind velvet ropes and the private security phalanx that guards billionaire homeowners, investment bankers, a few celebrities, and not a few politicians. If you can get a ticket, as I have over the years, it’s a telling display of power and privilege among the country’s ruling business, cultural, and political elites.

Full disclosure: I didn’t attend this year’s party in Glendale, Arizona, but some of my sources were there to report on the machinations of the NFL’s cool kids club. While many Americans were betting on the winner of the big game, the top brass were obsessed with two issues in particular, they told me: presidential politics and the next owner of the Washington Commanders.

The tailgate party is a nominally bipartisan collusion, so you’ll see both Democrats and Republicans attend. The owners themselves lean heavily Republican and aren’t afraid to throw money at candidates for national office, including the half-awake Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

This year, the owners are changing their tune, not about the party, but about Trump. Word coming out of the tailgate is that some of the biggest Republican donors in the league don’t want Trump anywhere near the top of the ticket, citing embarrassing baggage from him like the January 6 riot.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
access point

It’s one of the reasons Tim Scott, the Republican senator from South Carolina and a rising star at the party, was welcomed with open arms by the owners during the Super Bowl festivities. He was often accompanied by GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and according to my contacts, Scott was cajoling aides for money as he prepared to run for the GOP nomination against a field that includes Trump. , former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and someone said to be a favorite of homeowners, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Press representatives for Scott and McCarthy did not return calls for comment.)

Yes, the NFL bosses don’t want Trump to run because they don’t think he can beat Sleepy Joe Biden. They also worry that he cannot be beaten for the nomination with so many others splitting the anti-Trump Republican vote.

Sell ‚Äč‚Äčthat equipment!

The thought of four more years from the dwindling occupant of the White House, who has moved further to the left even than Barack Obama, was almost enough to spoil the festivities. I said almost because the other big issue was a possible imminent and massive payday.

It’s no secret that Commanders owner Dan Snyder is under pressure from the league to sell the team following allegations of a toxic workplace. The league is pressuring him to get rid of the Commanders possibly before the next owners meeting in March. His asking price for the storied franchise (formerly known as the Washington Redskins) will be around $6 billion and league rules require any primary owner to put up at least 30% equity in the offer.

roger gooddell
Roger Goodell is the image-obsessed commissioner of the NFL.

Here’s why the owners got excited when the topic turned to Snyder (and away from Biden): The way teams are valued, the more you get for the Commanders, the more the other franchises are worth. He bought the team in 1999 for a record $800 million, so at $6 billion he can see the numbers begin to stack up across the league.

However, not many people have that type of bank. The bidders the owners were talking about include the likes of Josh Harris of Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, a former top executive at private equity firm Apollo who now owns several sports franchises, including the Philadelphia 76ers. The other is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who is also said to be eyeing the team.

Harris is a billionaire. It’s unclear if he’s billionaire enough to make the numbers work. (He did not return a call for comment.) Bezos, on the other hand, is worth around $120 billion, much of it liquid and a portion in Amazon stock. That means it’s guaranteed to deliver on Snyder’s and the league’s numbers and make owners even richer.

Nothing like a few more billion added to his net worth to make him forget about four more years of Sleepy Joe.

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