Former President Donald Trump’s football battle with Jon Bon Jovi finally came back to haunt him.
Trump’s contentious 2014 rivalry with your mom’s favorite 80s metal rocker to buy the Buffalo Bills was resurrected on Tuesday as part of the $250 million fraud lawsuit filed by New York authorities against Trump and his family business.
The lawsuit accuses Trump of inflating the value of his assets repeatedly for financial gain, including when he sought financing to edge out Bon Jovi in his failed attempt to buy the Bills.
The new legal onslaught could shatter Trump’s business empire and ban him from running any company based in the state or buying local real estate for five years.
But it has roots in Trump’s attempt to snap up the Bills—a bizarre episode when Trump set out to smear New Jersey’s Bon Jovi, who had teamed up with a group of Toronto-based investors, as too Canadian for Buffalo.
The New York Attorney General Letitia James’ probe began after Michael Cohen, Trump’s estranged former attorney, testified in 2019 that Trump provided Deutsche Bank with an inflated financial statement while seeking a loan for his failed attempt to buy the Bills.
Back in 2014, Trump was a wannabe future NFL owner in need of funds.
The over-200-page lawsuit revealed Tuesday recounts how Trump made a $1 billion bid for the Bills, with the intention to seek financing for up to $800 million of that amount. Trump needed a letter from a bank expressing confidence in his bid, according to the lawsuit.
A longtime Trump Organization executive, Jeffrey McConney, assured the bank that there had been “no material decrease” in Trump’s wealth since the time he issued a 2013 personal statement of financial condition, the lawsuit states.
But there was a problem. According to the New York AG, the valuations presented in that statement were artificially inflated with the “deceptive strategies” detailed in the many pages of the lawsuit.
In Trump’s 2013 statement, he estimated his own net worth at about $5.1 billion, according to the lawsuit. But when it came to ensuring his relationship with Deutsche Bank, Trump took an extra step. He allegedly followed up with a letter attesting that he was worth even more.
The lawsuit states: “Mr. Trump sent a separate letter, under his own signature, using an even higher figure in an effort to win the bidding: ‘I have a net worth in excess of Eight Billion Dollars (financial statements to be provided upon request)….’”
Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and he blasted James on Wednesday in a statement as “a total crime fighting disaster in New York.” Trump insisted that banks and insurance companies “were fully paid, made a lot of money, and never had a complaint about me.”
James is an elected Democrat who’s up for reelection this November. Trump and his family members have frequently accused her of politicizing her investigation.
Trump’s efforts to nail down the Bills didn’t end with financial machinations.
Trump also tapped longtime political ally Michael Caputo to help fan rumors that the rocker and his Canadian financial backers were planning to move the team to Toronto, as part of a plan to turn local sentiment against the rock star.
That part of the plan worked—to a limited extent, anyway.
Local Bills fans turned against “Livin’ on a Prayer” singer and declared local bars “Bon Jovi–Free Zones.”
In the end, Trump didn’t get the Bills, and neither did Bon Jovi. The winning $1.4 billion bid was filed by Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team.
Bon Jovi later insisted he never planned to take the Bills out of Buffalo. He called the battle “scarring.”
“I won’t ever go back to the city of Buffalo,” he told GQ in October 2020. “You will never see my face in Buffalo ever. I have knocked it off the map.”