OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has disputed reports that he may be getting out of the newspaper business and into professional football.
Earlier on Monday, the New York Post reported that Bezos may be looking to sell off the Washington Post in order to help finance buying the NFL’s Washington Commanders, formerly the Washington Redskins, from current owner Dan Snyder.
“Chatter is growing that Amazon’s billionaire founder is looking to clear the way for a purchase of the Washington Commanders by selling the Washington Post — with speculation boosted last month by leaked video of publisher Fred Ryan disclosing layoff plans at an unruly town hall meeting,” The Post reported.
“The problem for Bezos reportedly is that the Commanders’ embattled owner, Dan Snyder, is still sore over the storied newspaper’s series of exposes alleging a toxic management culture at the team, where bosses including Snyder allegedly enabled sex harassment,” the report continued. “Some even believe that Snyder suspects Bezos, who bought the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, encouraged the tough coverage in 2020 in a bid to force him to sell him the team.”
Last week, the Amazon founder fueled even more fears of additional layoffs when he visited the WaPo newsroom in what was described by The Post as somewhat “awkward.” But that said, a source familiar with the situation told the WaPo’s top leadership in private meetings that Bezos wasn’t looking to sell the paper.
But that said, “one logical suitor” is sure that the WaPo is for sale and will be making a bid for the paper, according to a source who would not identify the suitor, The Post noted. A second source who engages in the purchase and sale of newspapers also has heard rumblings that the WaPo may be on the sale block.
“I think Bezos’ people could go to Dan and say as a gesture of goodwill, ‘We are selling the paper,’” a source close to the situation told the New York outlet. “I think that would go a long way with Dan.”
The Post noted further:
Meanwhile, Front Office Sports reported last Tuesday that Bank of America, hired by Snyder to auction the Commanders, “continues to court Bezos — even if there are indications that Snyder doesn’t want to sell” to the Amazon founder.
Bezos has not hired an investment banker to sell the Washington Post, nor has he made it perfectly clear it is actually for sale, the source added. Neither source is close to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, according to a Dec. 23 Axios report, is interested in buying either the Wall Street Journal or Washington Post.
Spokespersons for both outlets told The Post that neither is for sale, however.
Last week reports noted that the Commanders have secured first-round bids for the team and that Bezos, who has reportedly been in talks with entertainment mogul Jay-Z to jointly make an offer, was not among them.
In November, Bezos admitted to CNN that football is his “favorite sport,” with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez adding: “I do like football — I’m just going to throw that out there.”
JP Finlay, who covers the Commanders for NBC Sports, tweeted a week ago: “Not only was I told Bezos didn’t submit a bid, I’ve had people tell me the Snyder family has absolutely no interest in selling to Bezos.”
Not only was I told Bezos didn’t submit a bid, I’ve had people tell me the Snyder family has absolutely no interest in selling to Bezos.
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 15, 2023
Finlay also quoted Front Office Sports’ A.J. Perez, who wrote: “SCOOP: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos hasn’t submitted a formal bid for the Washington Commanders, sources tell @FOS. Minus Bezos, none of the half-dozen bids ahead of last month’s first-round deadline exceeded $6.3 billion.”
Snyder reportedly wants $7 billion for the franchise.
Also in November, an unnamed source told NBC Sports’ Peter King: “It’ll never happen. Dan Snyder detests the Washington Post. No way he’d sell to the owner of that paper.”
Bezos bought the paper in 2013 at the request of then-owner Donald Graham. Initially, the paper expanded rapidly, adding staff and coverage and boosting online subscriptions. But it is on track to lose money in 2022 after readership waned and after losing 500,000 subscribers after former President Donald Trump left office.