Who are the Waltons and Penners – the likely next owners of the Denver Broncos?


When the Denver Broncos announced Tuesday night that they had reached an agreement to be purchased by the Walton-Penner family, Broncos fans might have been forgiven for asking: Who?

Walmart money. That’s who’s in line to buy the legendary franchise. And at $4.65 billion, that’s a big bet, and the highest ever paid for a sports team in North America.

The deal still needs to be approved by NFL owners, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that it could only take 60-90 days and no problem should occur.

Next, let’s look at who the main players in the deal are, the Walton family, and how they’re all already tied to Colorado sports.

The owners

Rob Walton: He is the main money behind the deal. Some estimates put its value at $65 billion. That money came from her father, Walmart co-founder Sam Walton, who died in 1992 and left his fortune to family members. After Sam’s death, Rob became president of Walmart and led the company for more than two decades before retiring in 2015. Rob Walton holds a law degree from Columbia University and has three children, including Carrie Walton-Penner, who will also co-own the Broncos with her father and her husband, Greg Penner, who took over as Walmart president when Rob Walton retired.

bonus fact: Rob Walton recently sold vacant land in Aspen for more than 30 million dollars, a record.

Carrie Walton Penner: She is one of the grandchildren of Sam Walton and serves on the board of the Walton Family Foundation, one of many philanthropic arms of Walmart money. She graduated from Georgetown and Stanford universities. One of the biggest causes in his life is advocating for K-12 education. She is also a trustee of the Aspen Institute. It has been reported that she and her husband, Greg Penner, will run the day-to-day operations of the Broncos. The couple live in Atherton, Calif., but also own a home in Aspen.

bonus fact: She is a key player in promoting charter schools in America.

Greg Penner: He is the chairman of the board of Walmart, which he succeeded his stepfather, Rob Walton, in 2015. Like his wife, Greg is also a graduate of Georgetown and Stanford. Before starting at Walmart in 2008, Penner was a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs and held other positions at various financial companies, as well as his own.

bonus fact: Penner’s parents are Christian sex therapists.

Melody Hobson: She is the only one of the main group of owners not directly tied to Walmart’s money. Hobson is the Chairman of the Board of Starbucks, is a director of JPMorgan and runs Ariel Investments, a mutual fund and fund management company. She graduated from Princeton University.

Bonus fact: She is married to Georges Lucas. Yes, that George Lucas.

The other players

Ben Walton: He is the son of Rob Walton and the grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton. He is also one of the main ties the family has to Colorado. He and his wife recently paid $22 million to buy land in Cherry Hills Village, where new Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson recently also bought a house — paying $25 million. The pair also split their time between Colorado and Chile.

bonus fact: Ben Walton and his wife too reportedly owned a home in the Hilltop neighborhood of Denver.

E. Stanley Kroenke: It owns most of the professional sports teams in Colorado: the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, the Colorado Rapids, the Colorado Mammoth. And it has so much more than that: the Paramount Theater and Ball Arena in Denver, the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, the Elich Gardens amusement park, the Altitude cable television network and the English Premier League soccer club. Arsenal. It’s a lot. But Stan Kroenke’s inclusion here is because he’s married to Ann Walton Kroenke, daughter of Sam Walton’s brother, Bud, and cousin of Rob Walton. What synergy may or may not exist between the families has yet to be seen, but with Kroenke’s massive real estate holdings around Ball Arena and in the space between it and Empower Field at Mile High, it’s likely some plans are already underway.

Bonus fact #1: According to The Land Report magazine, Kroenke owns over 1.6 million acres of land in the United States, 5th for a single landowner.

Bonus fact #2: Stan is named for two baseball players. His first name is actually Enos, named after Massacre of Enos. Stanley is for Stan Musial.

Ann Walton Kroenke: She is a daughter of Bud Walton, the brother of Sam Walton. When Bud died, she inherited almost $5 billion of the Walmart fortune. She is married to Stan Kroenke, whom she reportedly first met in Aspen. Ann and Stan have a son, Josh Kroenke, who lives in Denver and runs the day-to-day operations of the family’s sports teams, including the Nuggets, Avalanche and Arsenal.

Bonus fact: Ann Walton Kroenke is a registered nurse.

Josh Kroenke: He is the heir apparent to not one, but two billionaire parents, Stan Kroenke and Ann Walton Kroenke. This makes him a grandson of Bud Walton, the brother of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Josh runs the day-to-day operations of several of his parents’ sports properties, including those in Denver. He lives in Denver.

bonus fact: Josh attended the University of Missouri on a basketball purse.