John Elway lost a chance to make nearly $1 billion on the Broncos sale

Jun 8, 2022, 12:08 PM

John Elway was known for his excellent decision-making as one of the National Football League’s best-ever quarterbacks.

One decision Elway made must be haunting the Hall of Fame player this week. Owner Pat Bowlen offered the Broncos legend a stake in the franchise in September 1998. The deal was for 20% of the reigning world champs at the cost of just $36 million.

Bowlen also said he’d buy back the share for $5 million more plus eight percent interest a year up to five years later. The sweetheart deal gave Elway 10 months to decide.

Elway went on to win the Broncos another Super Bowl and retired a few months later. That summer, Elway decided not to act on the deal, eventually investing money elsewhere.

If Elway had acted on the deal, he would’ve taken home $930 million of the $4.65 billion sale to the WaltonPenner family.

Elway is still a wealthy man with a net worth of $150 million. But he could’ve been way richer. Ironically the quarterback didn’t take the deal because he didn’t see himself as an executive. Of course, this changed, and he led the Broncos to another Super Bowl win as the team’s General Manager—meaning—Elway didn’t get to maximize his earnings for the club he made so valuable.

Also interesting is what came from Edward Kaiser’s two court battles, where he fought for the right of first refusal on the Broncos sale but lost. So Elway’s deal could’ve also given him the right of first refusal in a sale, and he could’ve been the Broncos’ owner today.

At the very least, Elway would’ve been way wealthier with his 20% stake at $36 million, giving him a return of nearly 1,500%, factoring for inflation.



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John Elway lost a chance to make nearly $1 billion on the Broncos sale