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Mellody Hobson Is About To Be The First Black Female Owner Of An NFL Team

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When former Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen died in 2019, control of the team was given to a family trust. That meant Bowlen’s seven children split operating duties for the Broncos. Even if you’re not a math whiz, you can probably deduce that if you divide 100 into seven equal pieces, none of those pieces will equal 50%, which is needed for a majority stake in every decision.

Unfortunately, after a couple of years of giving it the old college try, the seven heirs couldn’t agree on much of anything, except the decision to sell the team.

After three months of being on the market, the team has finally found a buyer, and it’s a historic moment.

Earlier this week the Bowlen Trust revealed that it had reached an agreement to sell the Broncos for $4.65 billion. That’s the highest price ever paid for an American sports franchise.

The primary buyer is Walmart heir Rob Walton. But Walton has some co-investors coming along for the ride. One of those co-investors is includes Mellody Hobson. Prior to this NFL deal, Mellody was perhaps best-known for being the wife of Star Wars creator George Lucas.

As a result, Hobson is now the first Black female owner of an NFL team.

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune

Though Lucas is internationally known (particularly among science-fiction fans and movie buffs), Hobson has an impressive resume of her own. She graduated from Princeton University and soon after joined Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based investment firm that manages about $13 billion in assets. She quickly rose up the ranks, eventually becoming president and co-CEO of the company.

Along the way, she built up her brand by appearing on financial segments on shows such as Good Morning America and CBS This Morning. She also started her own show called Unbroke: What You Need to Know About Money, which featured interviews with celebrities about their financial habits.

Today, Hobson is still the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments. She’s the chair of Starbucks and also serves on the board of several major organizations, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, JPMorgan Chase, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and the Sundance Institute.

Now, she can add “NFL owner” to her list of accomplishments. And she could open the door for more diversity in the sport. Seven out of 10 NFL players are Black, but there’s never been a Black person with a majority ownership stake in a team.

Hobson joins a team that’s got some solid momentum heading into the new season. The Broncos still have a solid defense and just acquired Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, giving the team its best quarterback option since Peyton Manning retired in 2015.

If things bounce the right way, Hobson could find herself with some new jewelry come February: a Super Bowl ring.





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