CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WSPA) – The former owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, passed away Wednesday evening at the age of 86.

Long before Richardson’s fame of being Carolina Panther’s owner, he went to Wofford College where he played football.

Following his college career, he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts.

After two seasons in the NFL, he came back to Spartanburg and opened his first Hardee’s restaurant.

While running a restaurant, Richardson was in the process of building the Carolina Panthers in 1987 when he met with former Bank of America CEO High McColl to discuss his dream.

On October 26, 1993, Ricardson was awarded the NFL’s 29th franchise.

Richardson remained the owner until 2018 when he passed the team to David Tepper.

David and his wife, Nicole released the following statement about Richardson’s passing:

Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic. With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own. He was incredibly gracious to me when I purchased the team, and for that I am thankful. Nicole and I extend our deepest condolences to Rosalind, the entire Richardson family, and their loved ones. We wish them much peace and comfort.

In February 2021, Richardson made a $150 million gift to Wofford, pushing his personal contributions to the school to over a quarter of a billion dollars.

While the football stadium has a new name, the basketball arena and athletic facility still bear his name.