Sports | October 27, 2017 10:57 am

How Trump Kept Bon Jovi From Buying the Buffalo Bills

How the future president smeared a pop star and both lost their bids to buy the team in the process.

President Donald J. Trump listens as West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announces that he is switching parties to become a republican during the president's campaign rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena on August 3, 2017 in Huntington, West Virginia.
HUNTINGTON, WV - AUGUST 03: President Donald J. Trump listens as West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announces that he is switching parties to become a republican during the president's campaign rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena on August 3, 2017 in Huntington, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

President Trump’s caustic tweets and remarks about the National Football League have become such a regular thing that it’s left many scratching their heads about the source of the president’s ire. Some believe that it’s rooted in a personal grudge Trump has with the league, stemming from his failure to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

As GQ reports, at the time of the potential sale, Trump was battling two other potential buyers: owner of the Buffalo Sabres NHL team and a Canadian group headed by Bon Jovi, who were looking to take the team up north. A group of Bills fanatics formed shortly after that called “12th Man Thunder,” which staged “Bon-Jovi Free Zones” in Buffalo-area bars and made national headlines. The head of the hydra? Donald Trump himself.

As Michael Caputo, a Republican strategist who helped Trump put together the anti–Bon Jovi force, told GQ, “Trump knew he couldn’t outbid the Canadians,” so instead decided to run them out of Buffalo using scare tactic. “I had it all set up with neighborhood guys who lived by the stadium,” he told the magazine. (The interview happened two days before Trump made his now-infamous speech in which he referred to NFL protesters as “sons of bitches,” who should be “fired” for not standing during the national anthem.)

The anti–Bon Jovi group’s public figurehead? Chuck Sonntag, a cancer-surviving double amputee, whom Caputo recruited. Of course, the future president’s involvement had to be kept under wraps. Another member of the group, Charlie Pellien, said it was difficult to do so. “It was all behind the scenes and we weren’t even allowed to mention his name because of the agreement that he signed,” Pellien told GQ. “I was bursting at the seams to tell people, ‘Hey, this was Donald Trump’s idea.’”

After all that, neither Trump nor the pop star landed the team. And that led to Trump entering the presidential race, which went in his direction, to say the least.