Back in 2014, Jon Bon Jovi was interested in buying the NFL’s Buffalo Bills following the death of the team’s longtime owner, Ralph Wilson. Many fans were not happy about this, not because they hated his music but because they worried that Bon Jovi and his Toronto-based business partners would move the team to Canada. As it turns out, Donald Trump, not Bon Jovi, may have been the real reason they were worried. (Ain’t that a sentence that never seemed truer?)
Trump also wanted to buy the Bills, and according to the Associated Press, may have been behind a grassroots fan campaign to undermine Bon Jovi’s bid. The story centers around fan group, launched during that same period in 2014, called 12th Man Thunder, which collected thousands of signatures and printed “Bon Jovi Free Zone” posters and “No Bon Jovi” t-shirts in an effort to stoke fears that Bon Jovi wanted to steal the Bills from Buffalo. According to the AP report, Michael Caputo, a former Buffalo public relations consultant and 2016 Trump campaign employee, claims that Trump sent him to Buffalo to help launch 12th Man Thunder “as a way to tap into widespread fan anxiety at the time over a potential Bills move to Canada.”
Trump, who’d been a sports owner before (he bought the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1983 and then sued the NFL on antitrust grounds), was reportedly unwilling to match the higher bid offered by Bon Jovi and his partners, so saving the team from leaving Buffalo became his bargaining chip. In the end, both suitors were thwarted when Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula paid $1.4 billion for the Bills.
Bon Jovi, who had previously owned the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, went on to become a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign against Trump. Trump went on to become president, and has made the NFL one of his punching bags in the year since winning the election.