By Josephine Walker
The Walton-Penner family that is buying the NFL’s Denver Broncos for a record $4.65 billion added former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to its ownership group.
Rice, the daughter of a high school football coach, “is well known as a passionate and knowledgeable football fan who has worked to make the sport stronger and better,” Rob Walton, the Walmart Inc. heir who heads the group, said in a statement.
She joins at a time of increased focus on the lack of representation among owners in the 102-year-old National Football League, where 7 out of 10 players are Black, yet no Black person has ever held a majority stake in a team. Walton’s group includes his daughter Carrie and her husband, Greg Penner, along with Mellody Hobson, co-chief executive officer of Ariel Investments.
The deal, announced in June, still needs approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership. It would be the largest amount ever paid for a US professional sports team.
Read more: Walton Flexes $59 Billion Fortune, Agrees to Buy NFL Broncos
Rice, 67, has ties to the Denver area, moving there from Alabama as a 12-year-old and later graduating from the University of Denver. She was provost at Stanford University before joining the administration of President George W. Bush as national security adviser and later secretary of state.
Rice is used to breaking barriers. She was one of the first two women to join the Augusta National Golf Club, host of the annual Masters tournament, which until 2012 had an all-male membership.
ESPN reported in 2018 that the Cleveland Browns football team wanted to interview her for its head coach vacancy. Rice swatted that rumor down, saying she wasn’t ready to coach, but might be interested in calling a play or two.
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