US businessman Woody Johnson is the latest billionaire to express an interest in buying Chelsea, according to reports.
The New York Jets owner, 74, is said to be “readying a bid” after making contact with The Raine Group who have the task of finding a buyer, claim ESPN.
The heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, worth £3billion, is said to have become a fan of the Blues while living in London and serving as US ambassador to the UK.
Johnson is a long time supporter of ex-US President Donald Trump, as well as a Republican Party donor.
Sports-mad, he also has courtside seats at the NY Knicks.
Ally to Trump
Over the years, Johnson was a major Republican Party fundraiser.
Although he initially backed Donald Trump’s nominee rival Jeb Bush in the race for the Republican hot-seat, he soon started supporting Trump when it became clear he was going to be the election candidate.
Then, he poured money into both of Trump’s campaigns.
According to Federal Election Commission records, he gave around £440,000 to Trump Victory – a fundraising committee for the President’s re-election.
On top of that, he donated around £270,000 to the Republican National Committee, and another £800,000 to America First Action – which promoted Trump’s policies.
In 2017, Trump chose Johnson to be his ambassador in the UK.
Stationed in wealthy West London, he became entranced by London life.
In particular, he fell in love with Chelsea although it’s not clear if he made the pilgrimage to Stamford Bridge.
He held the position until 2021, but has since returned to the US.
The great grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I, Woody inherited the Johnson & Johnson corporation.
He began working for the company after graduating from University of Arizona.
Today, Johnson & Johnson is said to be worth around £330billion.
Privately, though, he is much more guarded.
He has been married twice – first to former model Sale Johnson, who had three of his children, Casey, Daisy, and Jamie.
Wood remarried actress Suzanne Ircha, who is 20-years his junior, in 2009. She is best pals with former First Lady Melania Trump, having mixed in the same socialite circles before she met Donald.
They have two boys, Robert and Jack.
In the past, his wife has called her husband “Prince Charming”. While her and Melania, who have been joint at the hip, share a love for fashion brand Louboutins.
Careful what you wish for
In 2000, Woody bought the NY Jets for a bargain £500million.
However, his reign as owner has been much maligned due to poor performances on the field.
Two years prior to his investment, the Jets had won the AFC divisional play-offs.
But, they would struggle in the following years until 2009 when they reached the same stage again.
For the past six seasons, they have lost more than they have won.
The worst years came between 2017-2021, when Woody’s brother Christopher was CEO and chairman.
During that time, fans have turned on Woody – demanding he give up the team.
Banners reading, “Dear Woody, Sell the team” regularly appear at the MetLife Stadium.
Chelsea fans might be wary of what Woody would have in store for the Blues.
If his political donations and philanthropy are good indicators, then supporters needn’t worry.
Woody has put his money to good use as a philanthropist for various charities.
His biggest contributions hit closer to home – with support for medical research for diabetes and lupus top of his agenda, which he has lobbied for more federal funding for.
He started the foundation, the Alliance for Lupus Research, when he discovered daughter Jaime was diagnosed with lupus in 1999.
However, in 2010 his life was shattered when his eldest daughter Casey died of diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.
In her honour, he has given over £10million to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Chelsea fans will hope he’s equally as generous with the Blues.