Did Trump Ruin Bon Jovi’s NFL Bid?

Those involved with Bon Jovi’s failed bid for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2014 are alleging Donald Trump was behind the grassroots movement to block the rock star from buying the team.

Buffalo Bills Fan
AP Photo
– Buffalo Bills Fan

Michael Caputo, a Buffalo public relations specialist who later worked on Trump’s presidential campaign, said Trump tapped into fan anxiety that Bon Jovi would move the team to Canada if he won the bid. Trump allegedly tasked Caputo with organizing a grassroots movement to stop the “Livin’ On A Prayer” singer from buying the team.

“Mr. Trump was convinced that the community wouldn’t stand for the move,” Caputo said. “So he sent me to organize something with local fans to get that rolling.”

Caputo immediately got to work. In the spring of 2014 he formed the 12th Man Thunder fan group, which was responsible for various petition drives and the distribution of “Bon Jovi Free Zone” posters.

“I just wanted to blurt out, ‘Donald Trump is behind this,’” said Charles Pellien, a Buffalo truck driver who was recruited by Caputo to lead the fan club.

Trump thought siding with the fans would aid his bid for the team, Caputo said. Trump later reportedly backed out of the “behind-the-scenes” involvement after signing a non-disclosure agreement that prohibited him from doing public outreach related to the bid.   

“He wanted to be a hometown favorite because he would keep the Bills in Buffalo,” Caputo said of Trump. “It was always his intention to come in here on a white horse and save the team.”

Even though the team stayed in Buffalo, Trump’s efforts to win the bid ultimately failed as the team was purchased by NHL Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula for $1.4 billion.  

The fan group, now known as the Bills Fan Thunder, is still led by Pellien. The group currently works as a charity to bring underprivileged children to Bills football games.

The Buffalo Bills and Bills Fan Thunder did not respond to Pollstar’s requests for comment at press time.