Finance executive Mellody Hobson is set to become an owner of the Denver Broncos. The 53-year-old co-CEO of Chicago-based Ariel Investment is a partner in the ownership group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton that has agreed to buy the NFL team for $4.65 billion, pending NFL approval, according to USA Today Sports.
Walton will be the majority owner, while his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and his son-in-law, Greg Penner, will become minority owners. The Walton-Penner group said Tuesday that Hobson will also be joining ownership.
“Beyond her role at Ariel, Mellody is an influential leader in corporate and civic organizations across the nation,” Walton said in a press release. “Mellody currently serves as Chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation and is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team.”
The Denver Broncos was put up for sale in February. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time that the league wanted the team to sell to a diverse ownership group.
The team’s pending new ownership group includes two women — Carrie Walton Penner and Hobson, who is a Black woman. She is now set to be a part of a small group of Black women who have an equity stake in a National Football League (NFL) team.
In 2020, Starbucks appointed Hobson to head its Board, making her the only African-American woman to chair the board of a Fortune 500 company. The co-CEO of Ariel Investments, a global value-based asset management firm, previously served as Board chair of Estée Lauder Companies and DreamWorks Animation. The Chicago native was in 2015 named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. She was also on Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list this year.
Hobson graduated from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She also has honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, St. Mary’s College, University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University. The businesswoman was also awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2018. She is currently married to famous American filmmaker George Lucas with whom she has a daughter, Everest.