- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson purchases XFL for $15 million
- XFL filed for bankruptcy in April after shutting down season in March
- League averaged nearly 2 million TV viewers per game through five weeks of play
2020 has been quite an unusual year for everyone, thanks in most part to the coronavirus pandemic. The XFL is certainly no exception.
The league kicked off its second-ever season back in February about a week after the Kansas City Chiefs toppled the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. The eight-team football league wasn’t designed to compete with the NFL, but Vince McMahon relaunched the league with hopes of giving something football fans to enjoy during the NFL’s offseason.
Things started out decently enough. While attendance and television viewership waned as the season progressed, McMahon was consistent in saying that the XFL wouldn’t fold after just one season this time around.
However, the spread of the coronavirus through the United States caused every major American pro sports league to halt operations in March. The XFL did the same as a precaution. Shortly thereafter, though, we learned that the league was likely not coming back.
The XFL officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in mid-April, and the league has reportedly been looking for a buyer in the three months since. The league was still trying to sell itself as a valuable entertainment product capable of restarting in 2021 with the bubble concept, if necessary.
On Monday, they officially found their buyer. It’s none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a group of investors that have purchased the XFL for $15 million. While it’s unclear what plans Johnson and his group have for the league, the fact that they made the purchase makes it clear that the XFL has a future, after all.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 3, 2020
McMahon reportedly invested around $200 million to try and bring the XFL back for 2020 before the pandemic forced him to change course. The league’s 2020 season was canceled after five weeks, and the league laid off the vast majority of its employees in April. McMahon fired XFL general manager Oliver Luck on April 9, and Luck quickly sued McMahon for wrongful termination shortly thereafter.
McMahon’s original version of the XFL, which launched in 2001, ceased operations after just one season. The revamped version of the league featured a number of noteworthy former NFL and college players, including Cardale Jones, Landry Jones, and Matt McGloin. A number of players, including former Houston Roughnecks quarterback PJ Walker, have since signed contracts with NFL teams after impressive performances in the XFL.
The Rock To The Rescue
Johnson, a former pro wrestler turned actor, played football for the University of Miami from 1990 until 1994. Cardinale is the managing CEO of RedBird, an investment company that purchased a controlling interest in French soccer club Toulouse just last week.
In a statement, Johnson said, “The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, 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.”
The first five weeks of the 2020 XFL season averaged 1.9 million TV viewers per game. The league had generated around $20 million in gross revenues, per court filings. The league expected a gross revenue nearing $50 million over the course of the full 10-game season, which was originally scheduled to end in April.