Mat Ishbia announces interest in bidding on Commanders

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Mat Ishbia, a mortgage company executive who attempted to purchase the Denver Broncos, plans to consider a bid for the Washington Commanders, he said Friday.

“The NFL is a great league and Washington is one of the elite franchises,” Ishbia said in a statement issued to The Washington Post through a spokesperson. “I am interested in exploring this opportunity further in the very near future.”

Ishbia is a former Michigan State basketball player who is the president and CEO of Michigan-based United Wholesale Mortgage. Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.7 billion.

Jeff Bezos interested in bidding on Commanders, possibly with Jay-Z

He was among the bidders for the Broncos before they were sold in June from the Pat Bowlen Trust to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton for $4.65 billion. NFL owners officially ratified Walton’s purchase in August.

Ishbia was a member of Michigan State teams that reached three Final Fours and won a national championship in 2000. He spent a year as a student assistant coach on Tom Izzo’s Spartans staff.

After graduating from Michigan State’s business school in 2003, Ishbia joined United Wholesale Mortgage, which had been founded by his father, when it had a dozen workers. It now has 7,000 employees and is based in Pontiac, Mich. He became CEO in 2013, and the company became the country’s largest wholesale mortgage lender in 2015.

The company had a record $107.7 billion in mortgage originations in 2019. It debuted in January 2021 as a publicly traded company, through a merger with Gores Holdings IV, with the largest listing through a special purpose acquisition company.

According to Forbes, Ishbia owns 71 percent of the company, now called UWM Holdings. Brother Justin Ishbia owns a 22 percent stake in the company and has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion, according to Forbes.

The Commanders were estimated by Forbes in August to be worth $5.6 billion.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is interested in potentially bidding on the team, a person familiar with the situation said Thursday. It is possible but not certain that a bid by Bezos would include music mogul Jay-Z as a prospective investor, according to that person.

“I don’t know if they will partner on it,” that person said Thursday, adding that each is “interested.”

Bezos owns The Washington Post. He has been mentioned as a potential owner of other NFL franchises, including the Seattle Seahawks. Amazon carries the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package.

Media entrepreneur Byron Allen, another previous Broncos bidder, also is preparing a bid for the Commanders, a person with knowledge of the situation said Thursday. If successful, Allen would become the NFL’s first Black principal team owner. The owners approved a resolution in March endorsing diversity in franchise ownership.

The Commanders said Wednesday that owner Daniel Snyder hired an investment bank to “consider potential transactions” related to the franchise. The Commanders did not specify whether Snyder and his wife, Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, are considering the sale of the entire franchise or a minority share.

“We are exploring all options,” a Commanders spokesperson said Wednesday.

The team said in its statement Wednesday that the Snyders hired a division of Bank of America, BofA Securities.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, long considered Snyder’s closest ally among the owners, said in a radio interview Friday that he believes Snyder is keeping his options open in terms of selling a portion of the team or all of it.

“I really am saying I bet all options are on the table,” Jones told 105.3 the Fan, “and then you see what might be possible. And that’s what I think this exercise is: ‘Let’s look and see what our options are here, see where the big interest is that makes the most sense,’ in their case to the Snyders, and then go from there. It’s one thing to sit there at your table and draw up all your plans and figure out how you’re going to get it done financially. But you in the mirror, in this case, you need more. And that’s [a] third party. So he’s out testing the waters.”

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