With the $4.65 billion sale agreement between the Denver Broncos and the Walton-Penner family ownership group in the final stages of approval, Mellody Hobson is set to become a part-owner of the team, making her the first Black female NFL owner.
The deal also includes Walmart heir Rob Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton Penner, her husband, Greg Penner and Hobson. She is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation.
While the NFL is a predominantly Black league, with Black players constituting almost 70 percent of its player population, ownership remains dominantly white. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-American billionaire businessman, and Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula, a Korean-American businesswoman, are the only people of colour with majority ownership stakes in the NFL.
In 2017, Hobson was named the chair of the Economic Club of Chicago, becoming the first African-American woman to do so. In 2020, she was named the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation, becoming the first Black woman to be a chairperson of an S&P 500 company. In the same year,, after a sizable donation to her alma mater Princeton University, the school announced a residential college under Hobson’s name. It will be Princeton’s first residential college to be named after a Black woman.
The sale agreement between the Broncos and the Walton-Penner group must be reviewed by the NFL’s finance committee and must be approved by the NFL team owners for the deal to become official. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports no issues are expected.