If the Panthers are sold for this much, it would set the record for a U.S. sports franchise.
The bidding price for the Panthers has reached $2.5 billion, which would be a record selling price for a U.S. sports franchise, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg reports.
The team was put up for sale by owner Jerry Richardson in December after a Sports Illustrated report detailing a history of confidential payouts for Richardson's workplace misconduct—including sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur—launched an NFL investigation into the team's founder.
Bloomberg reports the remaining bidders for the team include Alan Kestenbaum, the chief executive officer of private equity firm Bedrock Industries LP; David Tepper, a minority owner of the Steelers and the founder of Appaloosa Management LP; Ben Navarro, the CEO of the South Carolina-based Sherman Financial Group; and SAS Institute Inc. CEO Jim Goodnight could also potentially be interested.
Bloomberg also reports the $2.5 billion price point has pushed Michael Rubin, the executive chairman of the sports-apparel company Fanatics, to back out of the bidding. David Newton and Darren Rovell of ESPN.com report Rubin said he is willing to spend more for the team than what his initial bid was and he will remain interested at "the right price."
Rubin's bidding group reportedly included Sean "Diddy" Combs and Stephen Curry. ESPN adds that billionaire businessman Joseph Tsai is the only confirmed partner in Rubin's group.
Forbes listed the Panthers as the 21st most valuable NFL franchise in 2017 at $2.3 billion, sandwiched between the Colts ($2.375 billion) and the Chargers (2.275 billion).
According to ESPN, three-fourths of the league's 32 owners will have to approve the sale after Richardson chooses a buyer, and the most likely time for that to happen will be the league's spring meetings in Atlanta from May 21-23.