Panthers bidding reportedly tops $2.5 billion, which would smash record for NFL team sale

It's starting to look like Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is going to walk away with a healthy profit when he sells his team later this year. 

According to Bloomberg, bidding for the franchise has reached $2.5 billion, and if that ends up being the purchase price, it would smash the NFL record for a sale amount. The current record is held by the Bills, who were sold to the Pegula family in 2014 for roughly $1.4 billion

If the sale goes through at $2.5 billion, it would also top the purchase record for any sports franchise in North America. As of March 2018, the Rockets ($2.2 billion) Dodgers ($2.15 billion) and Clippers ($2 billion) have fetched the most on the open market. 

The thing about the Panthers' sale price is that it could still increase. According to Bloomberg, there are three bidders currently interested in buying the team, with the possibility that a fourth one will join the fray in the very near future. 

One of the bidders is Steelers minority owner and billionaire hedge-fund manager David Tepper, who's worth an estimated $11.1 billion. South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro is also making a bid for the team. Navarro is the head of Sherman Financial Group and believed to have a net worth of roughly $3 billion. 

Although Tepper and Navarro had been previously mentioned as bidders, Bloomberg also noted that billionaire Alan Kestenbaum is interested in buying the team. It's also possible that North Carolinan native Jim Goodnight will also get in on the bidding. Goodnight, who co-founded the SAS Institute, is worth an estimated $9.9 billion. 

One person who won't be bidding on the team is Michael Rubin. The founder of Fanatics apparently decided to drop out after bidding reached the $2.5 billion mark. 

Richardson and his group of investors originally paid $206 million for the team in 1993. Before the Panthers are sold to the highest bidder, 24 of the NFL's 32 owners would have to approve it. The league is apparently hoping the sale vote can go down at the spring league meeting, which is scheduled for May 21-23 in Atlanta. 

The Panthers have been up for sale since the end of the 2017 season. Richardson announced in December that he would be selling the team following allegations of workplace misconduct. Richardson is currently being investigated by the NFL and has pretty much stayed out of the spotlight since the allegations became public following the publication of a Sports Illustrated story on Dec. 17. 

In the story from SI, the magazine reported that several Panthers employees had complained about Richardson over a variety of things. Allegations against Richardson include inappropriately touching female employees and using a racial slur against a former team scout who's no longer with the Panthers.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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