If it wasn’t for WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Dwayne Johnson might be in a much different place in life; as the story goes, the then-CFL washout had seven dollars to his name – hence the reason his production company is called “Seven Bucks” – when he decided to go into the family wrestling business, and the rest is history.
So, how has “The Rock” finally repaid Vince? To the tune of $15 million for the XFL, apparently.
Johnson, his ex-wife and business partner Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital Partners have teamed up to purchase the rights to the XFL for $15 million, just hours before an auction was scheduled to begin for the league’s assets. Per a release issued on the pending sale, the entities will be equal owners, and the deal is contingent on bankruptcy court approval on August 7 with the hope of closing on or around August 21.
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s deeply rooted in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said in a statement provided by Seifert. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”
“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity. It is the confluence of great passion, tradition and possibility,” added Garcia. “Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built. Melding our expertise combined with our commitment to deliver exciting and inspiring unique content, has us all focused on developing the XFL brand into a multi-media experience that our athletes, partners and fans will proudly embrace and love.”
XFL President and COO Jeffrey Pollack presided over the deal, and was happy with its outcome.
“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” Pollack said. “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league. Dwayne, Dany and Gerry are a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands going forward.”
McMahon’s original attempt at the XFL lasted one season in the spring of 2001 before folding, and was more notable for its extreme rules and bizarre antics than the game play itself. The second iteration this past spring had some modified rules, but was more game-focused and appeared to have a better shot at survival until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league mid-season.
Alpha Entertainment, the XFL’s parent company, eventually laid off its entire workforce and filed for bankruptcy, one of several downturns in business for McMahon’s entities that included a massive furlough and/or layoff of staff inside World Wrestling Entertainment.
Obviously, Johnson is no stranger to football, Vince McMahon, or business deals, but RedBird Capital is also no stranger to sports; the Gerry Cardinale-led firm recently bought French soccer team Toulouse, is an investor in the YES Network, and has several other sports-related ventures – including a special purpose acquisition company recently co-founded with Athletics executive Billy Beane.
And, with this acquisition, perhaps soon, on the other side of the pandemic in a nation clamoring for sports, we will get to hear those immortal words: “Finally, The Rock HAS COME BACK…to the gridiron!”