Will Everyone Buying the Carolina Panthers Please Stand Up?
Since the owner of the Carolina Panthers announced that he was selling the franchise, there has been a "Who's Who" of celebrities, sports stars and stock car racers that have expressed interest. In December, 81-year old Jerry Richardson agreed to sell the Charlotte-based team that he founded due to allegations of sexual misconduct and a racial slur that supposedly occurred in the workplace. Richardson, a former NFL player with the Baltimore Colts, and his ownership group reportedly paid $206 million for the expansion team in 1993. Forbes estimates the current worth to be around $2.3 billion.
One of the first sports figures to put his hat in the ring was Steph Curry. The Golden State Warrior is a lifelong Panther fan and voiced first interest in December. With no majority African American owners in the NFL, Sean "Diddy" Combs has also expressed interest in the purchasing the team. Almost immediately following Diddy's announcement, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France expressed he was part of a group that was seeking to buy the franchise. Included in France's group would be former race team owner Felix Sabates who also owns a minority share of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team.
During the slow days as teams prepared for the Daytona 500 last week, a slew of names expressed interest in a share of the owner's box at Bank of America Stadium. At the top of the financially qualified list is NASCAR racetrack owner Bruton Smith with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. Smith's son and CEO of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Marcus Smith has confirmed the family's interest. Adding their names to the growing list of racing stars is Chip Ganassi (a partner of Sabates), seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmy Johnson, Kyle Busch and former drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ironically, no word as yet from the former Super Bowl winning coach and Daytona 500 race team owner Joe Gibbs.
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