As local and federal investigations into the Washington Commanders’ alleged financial and workplace misconduct, team owners Daniel and Tanya Snyder moved closer on Thursday to selling the once-proud NFL franchise. Multiple outlets reported that the Snyder family reached a preliminary agreement to sell the Commanders to an ownership group led by Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Josh Harris for approximately $6 billion. If consummated, the deal will be the largest purchase of a North American professional sports franchise ever.
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The deal also has vast sports betting implications. Harris, a co-founder of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, also co-founded Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, which owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, and the Sixers. In October 2011, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin became a minority owner of the Sixers as part of the ownership group led by Harris and David Blitzer.
Rubin owned a stake in the Sixers and the Devils for over a decade. The entrepreneur sold the stake before the launch of Fanatics Sportsbook to satisfy league rules restricting individuals from owning a team while running a gambling operation.
Philadelphia businessman David Adelman purchased a considerable portion of Rubin’s stake, and the remainder went to Harris, Blitzer, and other limited partners of HBSE.
When Rubin joined the Sixers’ ownership, Fanatics maintained a small office in King of Prussia, a Philadelphia suburb, selling only licensed sports products online. Since then, it has transformed into a $31 billion multinational company with 10,000 employees in over 50 countries. Rubin closed by expressing confidence that Harris could bring an NBA title to Philadelphia for the first time in more than 40 years.
When Fanatics made its retail sports betting debut in January, the company chose FedEx Field as the site for its first sportsbook. Located five miles east of Washington, D.C., the Maryland venue has been the Commanders’ home stadium since 1997. Harris’ close business ties with Rubin in the past open the possibility for further commercial ventures between Fanatics and the Commanders if the bid by Harris’ group is eventually approved.
Harris’ ownership group also includes three-time NBA MVP Magic Johnson and businessman Mitchell Rales, co-founder of the Danaher Corporation. Johnson is also a minority owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
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