Woody Johnson, the billionaire owner of the New York Jets, has been lobbying his fellow GOP mega-donors to get behind former President Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House.
As something of a rare figure in the Republican Party, Johnson is one of the few ultra-rich individuals who have stuck by President Trump’s side as establishment donors have balked at the idea of the GOP frontrunner becoming the party’s nominee to take on President Joe Biden. Johnson is having candidate conversations with his fellow one-percenters, telling them it’s now or never to support President Trump who is all but certain to be the party’s nominee based on poll after poll.
One official, speaking anonymously to describe frank conversations, said Johnson is relaying how serious the 45th president’s bid is and how much donors stand to lose if they sit on the sidelines next year.
“The sales pitch from team Johnson has been ‘it’s going to be Trump based on the polling. Are you just not going to get on the train as Trump heads to be the nominee?’” a Republican fundraiser familiar with the engagement told CNBC.
As part of his pitch, Johnson will be hosting roundtables and fundraisers in the coming months to thaw relationships that chilled following Trump’s departure from the White House. He is facing formidable reluctance from fellow mega-donors like Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, steel magnate Andy Sabin and real estate titan Stephen Ross, all of whom have said they grew concerned about the former president’s leadership following the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol.
Johnson, who served as the Trump administration’s ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2017 to 2021, is a longtime personal friend to Trump who hasn’t flinched as the GOP’s leading nominee has been hit with four criminal indictments, two of which relate to his alleged involvement in the J6 riots. The Jets king has put his money where his mouth is, donating $1 million to the pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., in April of this year.
For his part, President Trump appears to recognize how valuable a friend like “Woody” can be to his fundraising prospects, referencing him during an appearance in New Hampshire last May and making a football-throwing gesture in front of a crowd.