CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Carolina Panthers have a new owner.
In a release Wednesday, the Panthers announced that hedge fund billionaire David Tepper has agreed to purchase the team from Jerry Richardson.
The deal is reportedly for $2.275 billion, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. That would set a new US record for a sports franchise, surpassing the Houston Rockets sale for $2.2 billion last September. The previous record in the NFL was $1.4 billion, paid by the Pegula family for the Buffalo Bills.
“Bringing the Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for Rosalind and me and all of our partners,” founder Jerry Richardson, said. “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years. You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us.
“I look forward to turning the stewardship of the Panthers over to David Tepper. I have enjoyed getting to know him in this process and am confident that he will provide the organization with great leadership in both its football and community initiatives. I wish David and his family the very best as they enter this exciting new phase of their lives.”
Tepper, a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will need to sell his stake in the Pittsburgh organization as well as be approved by three-fourths of the NFL owners at the Spring Meetings from May 21-23.
“I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers. I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas. I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas. It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers’ success on the field and in the community," Tepper said in a statement.
Steelers President Art Rooney II issued a statement Wednesday, wishing Tepper "all the best" as he assumes leadership of the Panthers organization.
On Tuesday, Charleston businessman Ben Navarro dropped out of the race after reports surfaced that Tepper was finalizing a deal to acquire the team. In a statement, Navarro said in part, "It would have been a privilege to become the stewards of this iconic franchise," and he wished the organization and its fans well in the future.
Tepper, whose net worth is $11 billion, according to Forbes, grew up in Pennsylvania as the youngest of three children and attended the University of Pittsburgh. From there, he attended Carnegie Mellon University's Business School, which is now known as the Tepper School of Business after he donated $125 million to the school.