Report: Large portion of Bills sale to be given to Buffalo, Detroit charities

Life Comes Next Moment: Late Bills founder Ralph Wilson reportedly leaves millions to charity
Tuesday October 7th, 2014

Much of the proceeds from the sale of the Buffalo Bills will be donated to charity in the cities of Buffalo and Detroit per late owner Ralph Wilson's instructions, the Buffalo News reported last Friday.

The Bills were sold by Wilson's family to Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres and local business leader, and his wife Kim last month for a reported $1.4 billion.

Wilson died last March, but according to the report, he instructed that a large portion of the future sale of his franchise be given to his charitable organization, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, to be used to support charitable causes.

Wilson also reportedly instructed that the money be spent only in the cities of Buffalo and Detroit. He was raised in the latter and ran his businesses out of Grosse Pointe Shores, a suburb of the city.

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The exact amount to be donated isn't known, but the News reports that it will be significantly higher than the Buffalo area's largest private foundation, the John R. Oishei Foundation, which has more than $300 million in assets.

“This just seals Ralph Wilson’s legacy as just a great benefactor for Buffalo and Western New York,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat who said he received word of Wilson’s latest and largest gift to Buffalo a few days ago. “This is huge.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said: “This leaves me breathless, and all that can be said, from the bottom of our hearts, is: Thank you, Ralph.”

It's unclear when the funds will be made available for donation.

The Pegulas' purchase of the Bills is expected to be approved at the NFL's fall owners meetings, which began Tuesday and run through Wednesday in Manhattan.

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The Bills were founded by Wilson in 1959 and owned by him until his death and the recent sale.

Buffalo is 3-2 this season and tied for first place in the AFC East.

Ben Estes


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