Brittany Bowlen turns 32 Tuesday.
During her lifetime the Broncos have played in five Super Bowls and won three. She was born Jan. 18, 1990, 10 days before her dad’s Broncos lost in New Orleans to the 49ers 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
It’s good that she doesn’t remember that one, but Brittany was along for the championship rides at Super Bowls XXXII, XXXIII and 50.
As every other Broncos’ backer, the third youngest of Pat Bowlen’s seven children with two wives has suffered through the past six seasons.
In an exclusive interview with Pat in 2009, when the Broncos’ owner revealed for the first time that he was experiencing “short-term memory loss’’, I asked if any of his kids had expressed an interest in becoming the future ownership. “Brittany,’’ he replied. “We’ve talked about it.’’ She was 19, a student majoring in finance at Notre Dame and a four-year member of the school’s figure skating club team, winning the Midwest Championship competition gold medal three consecutive years.
Brittany’s dream job is to succeed Mr. B, who died in June of 2019 from Alzheimer’s complications, and return the Broncos to the Super Bowl for a ninth time.
Brittany, who has the title of Broncos senior VP of strategy, will learn in the next two months if she is to become the franchise’s controlling owner. Her ascension is not guaranteed, but, rather, questionable. She must receive the unanimous support of the other six Bowlen children, the approval of the Bowlen Family Trustees and, finally, the vote of at least 24 of the other 31 NFL owners.
Fourteen of the league’s franchises, including the other three in the AFC West, are owned or co-owned by descendants and/or widows. Women are controlling owners or co-owners of 11 NFL teams.
Pat Bowlen’s hope was that one or more of his children would complete his rigid requirements of education and business and football experience to become the primary owner, but he also wished he or she would be 40, the age when he bought the Broncos in 1984.
Brittany has fulfilled most of the stipulations, but she never has worked in an executive role of football operations, and she is considerably younger than Pat’s expectations.
Oddly, or purposely, Brittany was not on the team’s search committee for a new general manager last year, although she did meet one-on-one with George Paton before the official announcement, and she is not involved in the interviews on the road with the 10 candidates for the head coach’s job. Logically, it seems that if Brittany soon would become controlling owner she’d have input on the critical appointment.
And if the two sons and three daughters of the Pat-Annabel marriage choose to buy out their older half-sisters from Pat’s first marriage, they would need more than $800 million. The family trust owns 82 percent of the franchise, which Forbes Magazine claimed in 2021 is valued at $3.75 billion. John Bowlen, Pat’s elder brother, owns approximately 22 percent ($825 million) while each child owns about 11 percent ($412.5) million.
The NFL now compels a principal owner to invest 30 percent. Clark Hunt, who represents his siblings as the Chiefs’ controlling owner, has owned 24.5 percent of the franchise since his father died.
If Brittany is not designated the operating owner, and a bidding process is decided, a group would need a leader to ante $1.25 billion. The Giants have a split 50-50 ownership. At least six franchises have minority partners who are not family members, and, of course, the Packers are publicly owned by almost 400,000 shareholders – and a board of directors. Green Bay is grandfathered. No other team can sell stock.
According to my NFL, business and legal sources, six different individual and groups have expressed serious interest in purchasing the Broncos. One includes president of football operations John Elway, whose five-year contract is ending, and another involves Peyton Manning. Two others feature minority partners in other sports franchises. One is a prominent billionaire with Colorado connections, and the other would include Brittany Bowlen and associates.
A purchase price of the Broncos at $3.75 billion will be the highest in the history of American professional sports. A Broncos executive scoffed at that Forbes value, but multiple bidders could drive up the number.
As soon as the new Broncos’ coach is hired, by the end of the month, CEO and trustee Joe Ellis promises he will provide a timeline for the new ownership process.
Under Pat Bowlen’s ownership, the Broncos played in seven of the franchise’s eight Super Bowls.
Mr. B will be a hard act to follow by Brittany or The Billionaire & Buddies.