The Phoenix Mercury are being sold to Mat Ishbia as part of a package with the NBA’s Suns, ESPN and The Athletic reported Tuesday afternoon.
The billionaire mortgage lender is purchasing the franchises for $4 billion, per the reports.
Ishbia is the chairman and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, headquartered in Michigan. Forbes estimates his net worth at $5.1 billion. He played men’s basketball as a walk-on at Michigan State, where he won a national title under coach Tom Izzo in 2000.
BREAKING: Billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia is finalizing a purchase of the Phoenix Mercury and Suns, per @wojespn. pic.twitter.com/eLMWhhQOhe— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) December 20, 2022
BREAKING: Billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia is finalizing a purchase of the Phoenix Mercury and Suns, per @wojespn. pic.twitter.com/eLMWhhQOhe
Current owner Robert Sarver, who has owned the franchises for 17 years, is selling both teams after allegations of racism and misogyny against him.
ESPN first uncovered the allegations in November 2021. The report prompted an investigation by the NBA, which found that Sarver engaged in “crude, sexual and vulgar commentary and conduct in the workplace.” In September, the league suspended the owner for one year and fined him $10 million.
“The level of misogyny and racism is beyond the pale,” one Suns co-owner said about Sarver in ESPN’s report. “It’s embarrassing as an owner.”
Sarver’s decision to sell came in September after the findings from the NBA’s investigation prompted backlash from team sponsors and the WNBA Players Association.
Ishbia will be the third owner of the Mercury since the team’s creation in 1997, which coincided with the WNBA’s opening season. Before Sarver, Jerry Colangelo owned the Mercury from 1997-2003.