Trump Drafts New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson as U.K. Envoy, Source Says

  • Johnson served on Jeb Bush’s campaign before supporting Trump
  • Trump congratulated Johnson during a Washington luncheon

Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets NFL team, arrives at Trump Tower in New York City on Dec. 5, 2016.

Photographer: Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to serve as U.S. ambassador to the U.K., according to a person close to the matter.

Arriving in Washington a day before his inauguration, Trump made an offhand announcement of Johnson’s new post Thursday during a luncheon he hosted at his recently opened hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Congratulating Johnson, Trump referred to him as an “ambassador” and said he was “going to Saint James," a reference to the formal British title for foreign envoys.

As ambassador to the U.K., a position that historically goes to key campaign supporters or friends of the president, Johnson would replace former technology executive Matthew Barzun. Johnson’s appointment would add to Trump’s coterie of wealthy aides and Cabinet members.

Johnson, 69, is the great-grandson of Johnson & Johnson’s founder. His football team is worth $2.6 billion, according to a November valuation assessment by Peter J Schwartz, a consultant with Anderson Economic Group in New York. 

Johnson, who has long known Trump, has donated to Republican campaigns for years. He served as finance chairman for Jeb Bush’s failed presidential campaign and donated $500,000 to Right to Rise USA, a super-PAC supporting Bush.

Then Johnson backed Trump when Bush dropped out of the race. He gave $349,000 to Trump Victory, which split donations between Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and state Republican parties. The committee reported receiving the bulk of the money -- $249,000 -- on November 10, two days after Trump’s election, according to Federal Election Commission records. 

— With assistance by Bill Allison, and Brendan Coffey

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