Daniel and Tanya Snyder announced earlier this week that they had retained the services of Bank of America Securities to explore the family’s options to sell all or part of the Washington Commanders in the wake of years of scandal that have plagued the team’s front office. On November 3, reports surfaced indicating that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has expressed interest in bidding on the team, possibly with music mogul Jay-Z as an investing partner.
Bezos has been linked to possible NFL teams in the recent past but was not a bidder in the recent sale of the Denver Broncos, purchased by Rob Walton, heir to the Walmart fortune. Bezos has numerous ties to the Washington D.C. region, where he owns the Washington Post, which broke the story of his possible interest in the franchise.
The sale of the team is likely motivated by several factors, including dozens of scandals that have come to light in recent years. The Snyders have owned the team since 1999, and the franchise has been embroiled in scandal for at least the last 18 years.
Allegations of sexual harassment surfaced in 2018 when five cheerleaders reported anonymously to the New York Times they were sexually harassed and intimidated during a 2013 swimsuit calendar shoot in Costa Rica. According to the report, the women were allegedly required to be topless or wear only body paint during an “up-close access” event for male team sponsors, including being required to act as escorts.
Over the next two years, more than 30 women who worked for the team would report alleged sexual harassment, including the requirement that they dress in skimpy clothing, were inappropriately touched, and dealt with daily propositions from numerous members of the team management.
In 2020, the NFL took over an investigation into the allegations. The investigation apparently discovered that Snyder had paid $1.6 million to a female staff member due to an incident that occurred on the owner’s private jet in 2009.
The report kicked off the first investigation into the team by the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which found that Snyder had intentionally interfered in the NFL investigation by hiring private investigators to intimidate the lead investigator, Beth Wilkinson.
In early 2022, reports surfaced making specific allegations against Dan Snyder, alleging that he had inappropriately touched former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston and attempted to force her into his limousine before being stopped by his lawyer.
Then in March, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced that it had opened an investigation into financial malfeasance stemming, in part, from reports the team withheld ticket sales revenue that was to be shared among the 32 NFL teams. Separately, the attorneys general of Virginia and D.C. both opened investigations into financial misconduct by the team.
In October 2022, Snyder allegedly stated to an associate that he has “dirt” on other NFL team owners, including longtime friend Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, in an apparent effort to dissuade owners from voting Snyder out. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay then became the first owner to suggest Snyder’s removal.
On November 2, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into Snyder and the Commanders stemming from financial allegations dating back to earlier in the year. This latest investigation coincided with the hiring of Bank of America Securities to examine the possibility of the sale.