745 Atlantic Avenue
Lloyd C. Blankfein
Chairman and CEO
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
200 West Street
New York, NY
Re: Short Selling the Cleveland Browns
I hope this letter finds you well. As I am not a particularly experienced investor, I am seeking your assistance with the purchase of a financial product that your bank provides. Specifically, I am looking to buy a swap. Possibly a credit default swap, but more likely a commodity swap (I’m not certain, you would know better than I).
I realize this is a matter typically delegated to your bank’s junior associates. However, I feel this particular investment is worthy of your attention, because it may be the most exciting and unique swap agreement ever proposed. If we can make this arrangement, I believe it will reinforce Goldman’s reputation as the greatest investment bank of all time and open a promising new line of revenue for your bank.
Mr. Blankfein, I would like to purchase a $1 billion swap for the purposes of short selling the 2016 Cleveland Browns of the National Football League. Under the terms of our agreement, your bank would pay me $1 billion if the Browns fail to deliver seven regular-season NFL victories prior to January 2, 2017. In exchange, I would pay Goldman Sachs a monthly premium of $40 million on the first of each month from September 1, 2016, through January 1, 2017, for a possible total of $200 million.
Now, as this is clearly an unorthodox swap arrangement, I’m sure you have legal concerns. I get that. Fortunately, I am an attorney duly licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Based on my reading of the relevant statutes and regulations, specifically the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, I cannot find any provision under federal law that would explicitly prohibit you from selling financial products tied to the outcome of professional sporting events. Further, it seems clear to me that the Commodity Futures Trade Commission defines the term “commodity” in a manner that is inclusive of professional football. While the definition of “commodity” specifically excludes “onions” and “box office receipts,” it does allow for “all services rights and interests … in which contracts for future delivery are presently or in the future dealt in.”
As it happens, contracts for the future delivery of NFL wins are currently sold in several markets across the globe, including world-renowned markets in Las Vegas and London. Furthermore, I assure you there are no onions associated with this investment. So, as I see it, we’re good. Of course, I would understand if you wish for your lawyers to review this. I imagine they have more experience with federal investment regulations than my lawyer does.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I take a risk that the Cleveland Browns will perform well in 2016?” Great question. Well for one thing, NFL teams produce an average of eight wins per season. So, the deck is already stacked against me. Further, the Browns’ current Vice President of Player Personnel, Andrew Berry, nearly worked for you. He turned down an offer from Goldman in 2009 to become a football scout. So, you already know that guy’s good, and he’s basically in charge of that operation. Really, though, what else do you need to know? The NFL is a sound institution known for winners. The Browns themselves have won eight championships! They have 461 all-time regular-season victories. That puts them squarely in the top half of all NFL win producers. And that’s in spite of the fact that the franchise took three seasons off in the mid 90s in honor of former owner Art Modell.
Finally, given that I am what you would consider a “retail” investor, I realize that you may be reluctant to sell me a swap, fearing that I will not have the capital to fund my premiums. This makes a lot of sense. More than you could ever know. This is why I have called upon the Internet to fund my investment. You can follow my campaign to raise funds at gofundme.com/shortingthebrowns. I can’t imagine a more transparent means of demonstrating whether or not I have the funds. Even if I fall short of my goal of $200 million, I am hoping we can put together a pro rated swap agreement based on whatever amount I do raise. If Goldman or one of its investment bank brethren cannot help me realize my goal of short selling the Cleveland Browns, then I will be forced to conclude that there is something wrong with the regulations governing Wall Street. In that event, I’ll take whatever funds I raise on the Internet and donate them to political candidates who demonstrate a sincere desire to regulate Wall Street properly. Maybe I’ll raise enough to start a Super PAC!
Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you soon.