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‘These Players Are Not Big Stars’: Dwayne Johnson Was In An Unusual Quandary Before Completing a Full Season As XFL’s Owner

Published 09/11/2023, 10:00 AM EDT

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Dwayne Johnson is widely recognized for good reason. Besides his on-screen appearances, he has a string of thriving businesses. However, he didn’t achieve all this alone. Dany Garcia, his manager and ex-wife, is also his business partner in nearly all his ventures. One more venture they are part of is the XFL. They took over the minor football league in August 2020. Recently, they both spoke about their experiences from the first season and how the journey has been for them.

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Johnson and Garcia’s XFL journey

Speaking with GQ, Johnson first pointed out initial uncertainty surrounding the league’s success. He said, “They’re not big stars. The fans don’t know who they are. This version of the league is new, the teams are new, the colors are new, and everything is brand new.”


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In their inaugural season as XFL owners, Johnson and Garcia were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming fan response. Johnson recalled, “I remember sitting on the sidelines going, ‘Holy shit, this feels like there are 100,000 people here.’,” stating how fans defied his expectations during the first game.


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Garcia said that the league’s presence on Twitter also felt like a milestone. “I would also say my great, great joy was just to see social media—the fact that you could go Twitter search ‘XFL’ and see that chatter and the plays and see how activated our fandom.”

Johnson and Garcia took over XFL after the previous ownership entity led by Vince McMahon had filed for bankruptcy in 2020. According to reports, the minor football league has seen some major growth under new ownership.


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A look into XFL

In 2020, Garcia and Johnson, along with Disney and RedBird Capital, purchased the bankrupt league for $23.5 million. The acquisition also involved settling XFL’s previous debts. Unlike the two previous attempts in 2001 and 2020, led by the WWE chairman, this time the XFL managed to complete its first season successfully.


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Thanks to its partnership with Disney, specifically ESPN, the XFL achieved respectable viewership in 2023. On average, each game during the regular season had 627,000 viewers, and the league’s championship game reached 1.4 million viewers. The Rock’s unique value proposition and Garcia’s skilled management in boosting the league’s visibility make it seem like they have a good shot at establishing the XFL in the competitive sports world. 

Watch This Story: Dwayne Johnson’s Daughter Simone to The Undertaker’s Daughter Kaia – Meet Daughters of Top WWE Stars

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Written by:

Shaikh Aerajuddin


One take at a time

Shaikh Aerajuddin is a WWE writer at EssentiallySports. With a Masters degree in Sports Science, Aeraj always carries a keen eye for detail and understands the various nuances of pro wrestling beyond the ring. Being a pro wrestling fan from his childhood, Aeraj now uses his analytical mind to tell a story in his articles for ES.
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Edited by:

Donna Eva