CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Jerry Richardson, the man responsible for bringing the Carolina Panthers to Charlotte, announced Sunday plans to sell the team after a Sports Illustrated report detailed payouts to former Panthers employees for inappropriate workplace conduct by Richardson.
"I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership. There fore,I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of this NFL season. We will not begin the sale process, nor will we entertain any inquiries, until the very last game is played," Richardson said in a letter to fans.
Almost immediately, questions began to arise about who would take over the Carolina Panthers franchise. The Panthers, valued at $2.3 billion, have a large group of local owners who hold smaller stakes in the team, outside of Richardson's 49 percent. It's possible some of them could team up to purchase the team.
Belk Family: They own roughly 5 percent of the team.
Levine Family: The family owns around 10 percent of the team.
Steve and Jerry Wordsworth: The Wordsworths are the biggest minority shareholders of the team with an estimated 16 percent.
North Carolina Locals of Interest
Bruton Smith, founder and chairman of Speedway Motorsports. SMI manages eight Nascar tracks. His fortune was valued by Forbes at $1 billion in March.
James Goodnight, co-founder of analytics software firm SAS with a net worth of $9.9 billion.
John Sall, co-founder of SAS with Goodnight and ranks as North Carolina's second richest resident. The pair own a country club and hotel together.
Michael Jordan is worth an estimated $1.4 billion, with roughly $600 million of his net worth tied up in his 90 percent stake in the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan took control of the Hornets with $25 million in cash while absorbing $150 million in debt and agreeing to fund future losses.
Musician and entrepreneur Diddy expressed interest in buying the team on social media. He stated his first order of business would be to "address the Colin Kaepernick situation."
Just before Sunday's game inside Bank of America Stadium was set to kickoff, Sports Illustrated published a report detailing at least four former Panthers employees received settlements from the team after Richardson made inappropriate comments, including "sexual suggestive language and behavior". The report also stated that on at least one occasion, Richardson directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout.
The Carolina Panthers had previously released a statement Friday evening that an internal investigation was launched into allegations against Richardson over workplace misconduct. The NFL announced that it was taking over the investigation Sunday.