The NFL could soon welcome a new owner: David Tepper, a hedge fund founder, recently agreed to purchase the Carolina Panthers for more than $2.2 billion, which would be the highest price ever paid for an NFL team.
The Panthers said Wednesday that “a definitive agreement has been signed” to sell the team to Tepper, and The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reports the sale price to be “approximately $2.2 billion.”
The transaction has yet to be approved by the league, but Maske reports that the owners are likely to sign off pending approval by the league’s financing committee.
“If he’s approved by the finance committee, then he will sail through,” a high-ranking official with one NFL team told The Post.
The Panthers said the sale is expected to close in July.
Owning an NFL team has taken on a political dimension, with President Trump targeting the league and protesting players with his ire. It is unknown how Tepper will conduct himself as an owner in a time of tension between the NFL and President Trump, but he has a history of speaking about Trump in unsparing terms. Here is a bit about Tepper’s background as he prepares to take over the ownership of the team.
Tepper built a hedge fund firm into a financial juggernaut
Tepper is the founder of the hedge fund firm Appaloosa Management and is believed to be a billionaire many times over. He began his career as a credit and securities analyst at Equibank in Pittsburgh before getting an MBA at Carnegie Mellon, according to the Charlotte Observer, and later worked for Goldman Sachs.
Appaloosa Management found success during the financial crisis by betting that banks would make a turnaround, buying Bank of America and Citigroup shares in a move that ultimately earned the firm a reported $7 billion in profit in 2009.
Forbes estimates that as of May 2018 Tepper is worth $11 billion, calling him “arguably the greatest hedge fund manager of his generation. Tepper keeps a set of brass testicles in his office, according a 2010 profile in New York magazine. Tepper grew up near Pittsburgh in a Jewish household, the middle of three children and helped pay his way through college at the University of Pittsburgh by stacking books at a campus library, the Observer reported.
A minority stakeholder in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tepper hasn’t been afraid to criticize Trump.
On the eve of the election in 2016, he delivered a scathing condemnation of Trump in an interview with CNBC, citing questions about Trump’s lack of a strong philanthropic background.
“During the financial crisis, during Sandy, not one dime. Not one dime!” Tepper said, saying he was active in philanthropic circles and organizations and did not believe Trump gave to any of them. “You can’t tell me this is a charitable generous person.”
He said he believed Trump was dishonest about his charitable giving.
“Listen, Trump masquerades as an angel of light but he is the father of lies,” he said.
How does Tepper fit in with other NFL owners?
Some of the most visible owners in the league have given handsomely to support Trump — eight donated $7.25 million to his inauguration, according to the Daily Beast, including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who Trump appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Britain, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Many owners have walked a fine line between supporting players protesting during the national anthem and not further inflaming the President who regularly lashed out at the protest’s last season. Tepper appears to have Republican leanings — he gave money to the campaigns of Jeb Bush and John Kasich in the primaries — but voted in the general election for Hillary Clinton, according to The Street.