Sunday night at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey earned heaps of praise for her compelling speech about equality and the #MeToo movement. The response was immediate: Oprah should be the next President of the United States. That’s not a good idea. But this is: Oprah should be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers.
Last month, the NFL announced it would be investigating current Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for sexual misconduct and workplace harassment. Not long after, Richardson announced that he would be putting the team up for sale. Diddy, Steph Curry, and Colin Kaepernick have all made it known that they are interested in purchasing the team, but they don’t quite have the capital on hand to purchase a franchise estimated to go for over $2 billion. You know who does? Oprah. And what better way to transition the Panthers into a more progressive direction than to have someone like Oprah take over. As an African American woman and victim of sexual assault herself, she understands the sensitivity and compassion it will take for the league to begin to address these issues.
Her ownership would be a game-changer in the Old Boys Club that is the NFL. “It would be historic, groundbreaking, and necessary in adding diversity to the NFL amongst the ownership ranks,” said ESPN reporter Josina Anderson when asked about a possible Oprah bid.
Oprah would become the first African American owner in the NFL. She would also join the small club of women who own or have owned NFL franchises, including Martha Firestone (majority owner of Detroit Lions) Dee Haslam (majority owner of the Cleveland Browns), Virginia Halas McCaskey (Majority owner of the Chicago Bears), and the late Georgia Frontiere (former majority owner of the LA Rams).
On the business side, Oprah is a marketing and financial genius. She is not someone who inherited a family fortune. She went from local news anchor, to host of the most successful day-time talk show in American television history, to acclaimed actress, to media mogul and owner of her own TV channel. According to Forbes, her net worth is $3.1 billion, making her the richest woman in entertainment. She is a wildly successful businesswoman who brings instant credibility to a team at a crossroads.
And how about this: instead of going it alone, maybe she decides to throw a bone to the less successful men clamoring to buy the team and offers an ownership stake to Diddy, Curry, and Kaep? What free agent wouldn’t want to play for that ownership group?
Watching her speech at the Golden Globes and the reaction it garnered shows that she is a dynamic force to be reckoned with and a voice people respect. Her track record as a businesswoman shows that she can inspire employees to follow her lead.
Oprah may not be our first woman president, but she could be one of the most important owners in the NFL. Consider this never-before-seen moment: Roger Goodell passes the Lombardi Trophy to a black woman, who then passes it to her black starting quarterback who flashes that electric smile. It’s a very real possibility. Oprah has been a success in everything she’s ever done, defying the odds every stop of the way. Who’s going to doubt that she can conquer the NFL?