Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and music star Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs are potential minority owners as part of a group that billionaire Michael Rubin is putting together with hopes of buying the Carolina Panthers.
The owner of sports retailer Fanatics, Rubin emerged Sunday as a major bidder to buy the team, according to an ESPN. Rubin is reportedly one of three known bidders with the financial strength to be a majority owner who notified the NFL with a formal letter of intent required by the league.
Hedge fund billionaire David Tepper and Ben Navarro, the founder and CEO of Sherman Financial Group, are the others.
Sean Combs (left) was the first major celebrity to declare his interest in the Carolina Panthers, but long-time Charlotte resident and former NBA MVP Stephen Curry (right) joined soon after
Combs did not waste much time in announcing his interest in buying the Carolina Panthers
Combs was also quick to point out that the NFL does not have any African-American owners
The team was put up for sale at season’s end by founder Jerry Richardson, who is being investigated by the NFL for allegations of workplace misconduct. When news of the expected sale emerged, Combs tweeted his desire to buy the team and Curry responded on Twitter that he also was interested.
The franchise is valued at $2.3 billion, per Forbes, which also estimates Rubin’s net worth at $3 billion. The league requires at least 30 percent of the sale price to be put down by the majority owner, with as many as 25 minority owners allowed in an ownership group.
Rubin also has a stake in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace.
League bylaws state that owners must divest from any other MLB, NBA, or NHL team before buying an NFL team, so Rubin may have to sell the 76ers and the Devils. However, according to a Bloomberg report, Alibaba Group founder Joseph Tsai could ultimately be the principal partner in the group, which would allow Rubin to keep his NBA and NHL franchises.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (left) and Fanatics Owner Michael Rubin attend the Fanatics Super Bowl Party at Ballroom at Bayou Place on February 4, 2017 in Houston
Tsai currently owns 49 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and has the right to take control team from principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov in 2021.
Official bids are expected to come in over the next few weeks, with approval from two-thirds of the league’s owners required to complete a sale.
Given the Panthers’ supposed value, Combs, with his estimated net worth of $820million, needs a partner such as Rubin. It also doesn’t hurt to have Curry aboard, given the fact that his career earnings will hit $257 million by the time his current contract ends in 2022, according to Spotrac.
Combs touted his plan to buy the team as history-making back in December, tweeting: ‘There are no majority African American NFL owners. Let’s make history.’
‘It’s time for diversity!! It’s time for Black ownership!!’ he wrote.
Curry hopped on the bandwagon, tweeting at Combs: ‘I want in!’
‘Holla at me, let’s get it!’ replied Combs.
Curry grew up in the Charlotte area because his father, former NBA guard Dell Curry, played 10 seasons for the Charlotte Hornets.
Furthermore, Curry also attended Davidson College, which sits about 20 miles north of the city.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (left) with soon-to-be former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson (right) before a 2012 game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte
In December, a Sports Illustrated report documented wide-ranging claims of workplace misconduct against Richardson.
Former Panthers employees spoke of lewd remarks, lingering gazes and inappropriate touching. On at least one occasion. Richardson was accused of directing a racial slur against an African-American employee.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) and David Tepper, who hopes to buy the Carolina Panthers, attend Apollo in the Hamptons 2016 at The Creeks on August 20, 2016 in East Hampton, New York
At least four former Panthers employees have received ‘significant’ monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace behavior by Richardson, according to the report.
The new SI report did not name sources, citing confidentiality agreements in the settlement deals and fear of retaliation.
Richardson, who himself played in the NFL as a halfback and wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts from 1959 to 1960, made his fortune in the food services industry, running the company best known for operating chains such as Denny’s and Hardees.
The 81-year-old Richardson acquired his majority stake in the franchise in 1993 at a value of $206 million, and the team is now valued at $2.3 billion by Forbes.
The new report claims that his alleged inappropriate workplace conduct was well known among Panthers employees and something of a running joke.
‘No one ever said anything, at least not that I heard,’ one former Panthers employee told SI. ‘He was the boss. It was [viewed] more of a creepy-old-man thing than a threat.’
Sources told the outlet that Richardson would focus his comments to female employees on their appearance, offering to pay for manicures and in one case suggesting that a female employee let him shave her legs.
Employees say that Richardson (seen in 2003) was universally known simply as ‘Mister.’ ‘It was a power culture. You did what Mister said, when he said it,’ one former employee said