Before Terry and Kim Pegula bought the Buffalo Bills in the spring of 2014, there were multiple contenders looking to purchase the franchise after the original owner, Ralph Wilson, who purchased the team for $25,000 in 1959, died at the age of 95, per Sports Illustrated‘s Michael McCann.
Bon Jovi was in the mix to purchase the team, as was Donald Trump, the latter of whom promised that if his bid didn’t win, he’d run for president of the United States to punish the NFL, according to ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith.
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Smith brought up the topic during an episode of ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, May 26, while discussing Colin Kaepernick‘s possible return to the NFL. Smith revealed that Trump personally phoned him to discuss his shocking grand plan if NFL owners denied his bid to buy the Bills.
“Donald Trump called yours truly, that would be me,” Smith said, per Awful Announcing. “And he said that he wanted to purchase the Buffalo Bills. And I’ll never forget what he said to me, he said, ‘If those owners screw me over,’ and I’m just using the FCC allowable version… he said, ‘If they screw me over, I’m gonna show them, I’m gonna get them all back, I’m gonna run for president of the United States.’ That’s what he said to me back in 2014.”
The news of Trump’s intention to buy the Bills previously hit the headlines in 2019, when his former longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, mentioned the attempted purchase in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives. Cohen claimed that Trump submitted falsified financial documents to inflate his wealth and property values in order to be in the mix to purchase the franchise via his close, long-running relationship with Deutsche Bank.
The New York Times’ Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman reported that Deutsche Bank loaned Trump “well over” $1 billion over the years. Ultimately, Trump’s bid failed and he went on to be elected to the presidency in 2016.
The Pegulas Purchased the Bills for $1.4 Billion
Legal matters aside, the Pegulas’ money offer to purchase the Bills was far higher than what Trump offered.
“The Pegulas won the bidding in September 2014 by having offered a then-NFL record $1.4 billion,” McCann reported. Trump’s offer was reportedly under $900 million, per Forbes.
McCann noted, “The NFL’s finance committee and then the league’s owners unanimously approved the Pegulas as the new owners of the Bills. Trump, for his part, tweeted a back-handed congratulations: ‘The people of Buffalo should be happy Terry Pegula got the team but I hope he does better w/the Bills than he has w/the Sabres. Good luck!'”
The Pegulas are One Step Closer to Toward Building the Bills’ New Stadium on Thursday
The Pegulas, who also own the Buffalo Sabres, have been working with local government in order to build a new stadium for the Bills, and on Thursday, received approval from the Erie County Legislature to move forward with the deal, per MyChamplainValley.com.
The approval grants the Pegulas $250 million from Erie County, which will be “repaid through the ticket sales for away teams at the stadium over the next couple decades,” per SB Nation’s Matt Warren.
Erie Count’s grant comes on top of the $600 million New York State funding governer Kathy Hochul promised in March. The Pegulas will personally contribute $350 million to the $1.2 billion project, “but the majority of the owners’ portion will from fans in the form of Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) that give the holder the opportunity to buy season tickets,” Warren noted.
The new stadium is expected to open in time for the 2026 NFL season.