Dale Earnhardt Jr. made the career-changing move in 2007 to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. that changed the course of his NASCAR legacy. During this time, Earnhardt Jr. entertained the idea of joining Joe Gibbs Racing before eventually signing with Hendricks Motorsports. The NASCAR Hall of Famer has since revealed the potential $35 million move that could have sealed his fate with Joe Gibbs Racing
Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaves DEI
For the first several years of his NASCAR career, Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced for Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company his father created for him and his family.
A few years after his dad’s tragic death, things fell apart internally at Dale Earnhardt Inc. The issues arose with the bubbling friction between Earnhardt Jr. and his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt.
The two-time Xfinity Series champion wanted to garner the company’s controlling ownership, while Teresa didn’t believe he could handle that responsibility. All that eventually guided the situation toward Earnhardt Jr. choosing to part ways with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007.
The decision put him on the open market to make his next move to join another prominent racing company to continue his NASCAR career. The matter saw a few organizations push to sign him, one of which included Joe Gibbs Racing.
Although things didn’t work out in that manner, Earnhardt Jr. has admitted what could have led to him signing with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s failed recruitment of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Immediately after leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc., Dale Earnhardt Jr. garnered some significant interest from a few other racing companies.
Joe Gibbs Racing was near the front of the line of those wanting to sign him to a deal. During an interview with Joe Gibbs in June 2019 on his Dale Jr. Download Podcast, the 46-year-old rehashed the situation as he recalled the full-fledged push to get him with the organization.
Gibbs was nearing the end of his coaching career with the then-Washington Redskins, which gave him the luxury of having team owner Dan Snyder involved in the process. Without any personal influence from Gibbs, Snyder attempted to sway Earnhardt Jr. by offering him some stock in some companies, such as Johnny Rockets.
Snyder’s efforts went well beyond anything Gibbs anticipated as it added to the massive contract they put on the table. However, the NASCAR Hall of Famer revealed that had he been offered 1% ownership of the team, it would have sealed the deal.
“I was talking to these guys yesterday, but if Dan [Snyder] offered 1% of the Skins then he would have had a deal then and there.”
That’s nothing short of a crushing blow for Gibbs to hear that in person as he was well aware of how big of a lifelong fan Earnhardt Jr. is of the franchise. His fandom would have factored into the equation and given him a lasting connection to the NFL team he grew up following.
Washington Football Team stake could have been worth $35 million
A look back into memory lane certainly stirs up plenty of emotions for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for what could have been with Joe Gibbs Racing.
If Dan Snyder had gone the route that Earnhardt Jr. hoped, his pockets would be much deeper right now. According to Forbes last year, the Washington Football Team is valued at $3.5 billion, which would have put Earnhardt Jr.’s desired 1% stake at $35 million current mark.
Not only would the 46-year-old have a personal connection to the team, but he would have greatly benefited from the situation. It’s a scenario that could have seen both sides significantly financially prosper in many ways.