Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a team of partners purchased the XFL after the alternative football league filed for bankruptcy, TMZ reported. The actor/wrestler promised the league would become “something special.”
The twice-defunct league was scheduled to go on the auction block on Monday. However, in an 11th-hour deal, Johnson and his partners purchased it for $15 million. Johnson was joined in the purchase by his ex-wife and business partner Dany Garcia, as well as an investment team led by Gerry Cardinale of RedBird Capital. The Johnson partnership will reportedly own a 50 percent stake in the company. It remains unclear who will own the other half.
The deal must be approved by a federal bankruptcy court before being finalized. Assuming the court approves the deal, it could be finalized by as early as August 21.
Johnson announced the sale in a statement on Monday.
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners… is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans. With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”
XFL president and chief operating officer Jeffrey Pollack called the investment group “a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands going forward,” as ESPN reported.
The plan is to relaunch the XFL at some unspecified date in the future, although what form that will take, and when, remains unclear.
For decades, various interested parties have been trying and failing, to bring a second major professional football organization to the United States, in order to give football aficionados something to watch when the NFL wasn’t playing.
In 2001, then-WWF boss Vince McMahon debuted the XFL, which promised to contain some “sports entertainment” elements of wrestling, such as players assuming character roles and antagonizing each other and/or the crowd. However, fans weren’t interested, and the experiment folded after one season.
In 2020, the XFL returned, again connected to wrestling (it was owned by the same organization that owns WWE), only this time without the manufactured elements of its previous incarnation. Though television viewership exceeded all expectations and it looked like XFL might finally be a success, the timing couldn’t have been worse. After just five weeks of play, the coronavirus pandemic ended the sport’s season and, subsequently, the organization folded.