ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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Josh Harris says buying NFL’s Washington Commanders was ‘bashert’

New owner describes opportunity as ‘once in a generation,’ using his Jewish faith to explain his enthusiasm for the deal

Josh Harris, the leader of a US group buying the Washington Commanders, greets fans during an NFL football pep rally at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, July 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)
Josh Harris, the leader of a US group buying the Washington Commanders, greets fans during an NFL football pep rally at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, July 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

JTA — Josh Harris already owned parts of professional sports teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL and the English Premier League.

But when the opportunity arose to purchase his hometown Washington Commanders, the Chevy Chase, Maryland, native said it was “bashert,” using the Yiddish word for fate.

Harris, a co-founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which manages over $500 billion in assets globally, bought the Commanders earlier this year from embattled Jewish owner Daniel Snyder for $6.05 billion — a record for a North American sports franchise. The sale was approved by the NFL last week. Snyder, who is under multiple investigations over sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture allegations, was fined $60 million as part of the sale.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer published on Monday, Harris opened up about the experience of buying the Commanders.

“NFL teams come up once in a generation,” Harris said. “So it really got real for me when the process was announced. I’m a man of faith, I’m Jewish, and I would call this bashert. The fact that I was able to end up owning, being part of and stewarding for this city, my hometown franchise, in the NFL, is something I never could’ve imagined in my wildest dreams. I’m humbled. It’s like I’m on some greater mission that I don’t understand.”

Harris, whose net worth is estimated at $6 billion, is also a co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. He is also a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a general partner of the Crystal Palace Premier League soccer club in Great Britain.

Harris has supported charitable efforts in Israel, including a project that focused on integrating Ethiopian immigrants through sports, and a more recent effort to combat socioeconomic inequality through youth sports in underprivileged areas.

In addition to Harris, the investment group buying the Commanders includes Jewish businessman Mitchell Rales, whose parents are the namesakes of the Ruth & Normal Rales Jewish Family Services in Boca Raton, Florida. NBA legend Magic Johnson, who is part of the ownership groups of the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, is also involved.

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