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Walmart heirs are involved in buying the Denver Broncos. Does that have anything to do with Medora?

Rob Walton, who is leading a new group of owners of the Denver Broncos, and his wife Melani pledged $50 million for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, recently reduced to $15 million. Does the Broncos purchase help explain the reduced gift?

Theodore Roosevelt library sketch.jfif
Oslo-based architecture firm Snøhetta sees the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library as a simple complement to the rugged North Dakota Badlands. The library will be built in Medora near the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and is slated to open in 2026.
Contributed / Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation
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FARGO — An ownership group including heirs to the Walmart fortune has reached an agreement to buy the Denver Broncos NFL football team for a reported $4.65 billion.

That amount, according to The Wall Street Journal and ESPN, shatters the previous record for a North American professional sports franchise.

The deal was reported by multiple national news outlets on Wednesday, June 8, after the agreement was struck Tuesday night.

The new ownership group is led by Rob Walton, son of the late Sam Walton, founder of Walmart.

The Walton-Penner group also includes Rob Walton’s daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and her husband, Greg Penner, as well as Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments, according to ESPN.

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In April, it was learned that the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation had significantly reduced its $50 million pledge to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, which is slated to open in Medora in 2026.

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Melani Walton, a former board member of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, watches a presentation in Medora on Aug. 17, 2020. The Montana native is married to Rob Walton, a billionaire heir to the Walmart fortune.
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

The Waltons pared their donation to $15 million and gave no explanation for the reduced gift.

A spokesman for the Waltons said Wednesday there was “absolutely no connection” between the scaled-back donation and purchase agreement for the Broncos but declined to elaborate.

In April, Melani and Rob Walton said through a spokesman, “We believe strongly in the importance of honoring the extraordinary legacy of Theodore Roosevelt — which is why we are so pleased to have supported this project from its inception.”

The Waltons’ contribution included $10 million to support scholarship at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University and help with the presidential library’s obligations in return for a $50 million endowment from the state of North Dakota.

Melanie Walton, who grew up near Medora in eastern Montana, is a graduate of Dickinson State University and was an early supporter of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. She served as a member of the board of trustees for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.

As of July 2021, the presidential library foundation had raised $155 million for the project. The state of North Dakota contributed a $50 million endowment to pay for operating and maintaining the library.

The library will be located in Medora, near the entry to the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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Before becoming president, Theodore Roosevelt spent time in the North Dakota Badlands around Medora in the 1880s ranching and hunting, a period commemorated by the national park and presidential library.

Construction on the presidential library is expected to start in June 2023.

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address: pspringer@forumcomm.com
Phone: 701-367-5294
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