The XFL has been sold to a group that includes former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock’’ Johnson, giving the bankrupt football league star power.
Johnson, an actor and producer who played college football at the University of Miami, teamed up with Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital to buy the league just hours before a planned auction was scheduled to begin.
They paid $15 million, splitting it evenly. Johnson’s business partner, Dany Garcia, who is also his ex-wife, will be a stakeholder as well.
RedBird has made a litany of sports-related investments, including some with ties to the National Football League and its players.
The presence of Johnson, meantime, continues pro wrestling’s involvement in the spring football league, which was founded—and funded—by WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon.
The XFL filed for bankruptcy in April after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of its inaugural season, which got off to a promising start in terms of television audience. The league had a broadcast agreement with Fox.
In its bankruptcy filing, Alpha Entertainment, the XFL’s parent, listed the league with assets and liabilities in the range of about $10 million to $50 million.
McMahon announced the XFL’s reboot in 2018, and spent two years developing the eight-team league.
The XFL drew more than 3 million viewers in its first week. The audience was about half that number in its fifth and final week before the shutdown.
The original XFL, created in 2001 in partnership with NBC, folded after one season.