Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and partners buy XFL for $15 million
The Rock is now an owner of the XFL.
Actor and former professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson has teamed with business partner Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital, a private investment firm run by former Goldman Sachs executive Gerry Cardinale, to buy the spring football league that filed for bankruptcy in April.
The partnership has acquired XFL parent company Alpha Entertainment LLC for $15 million days before the league was scheduled for bankruptcy auction.
Johnson played defensive tackle at Miami and was a member of the Hurricanes’ 1991 national championship team. He also played a retired NFL player who eventually buys the Kansas City Chiefs on the HBO series “Ballers.”
The XFL, which lasted only five weeks, might be best remembered for the way it embraced sports gambling.
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things — my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
The XFL was founded by Johnson’s former boss, WWE Chief Executive Vince McMahon. After lasting just one season in 2001, the league was relaunched by McMahon this year with eight teams, including the Los Angeles Wildcats, who played home games at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Four games were broadcast on opening weekend in February and averaged more than 3 million viewers. The league’s overall average TV audience was 1.8 million, on par with NBA and college basketball ratings.
But because of the coronavirus crisis, the XFL ended its season March 12 after five games. By mid-April, the league had suspended operations, laid off its employees and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing estimated the league’s liabilities between $10 million and $50 million against the same range in assets.
L.A. Wildcats president Heather Karatz realizes she’s an aspirational example as one of the few women in a high-ranking job with a pro sports team.
“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” Jeffrey Pollack, the XFL’s president and COO, said in a statement. “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league.”
The transaction is subject to approval by a Delaware bankruptcy court Friday and is expected to close around Aug. 21, the ownership group said in a statement.
Garcia is a professional bodybuilder and the founder, chairwoman and CEO of The Garcia Companies and TGC Management. She and Johnson also co-founded the multi-platform entertainment enterprise Seven Bucks Companies.
“Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built,” Garcia said in a statement. “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.”
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