WASHINGTON (CBSnewYork) — Woody Johnson will soon be jetting across the pond to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
President-elect Donald Trump said during a luncheon in Washington on Thursday that the New York Jets owner will be “going to St. James” as an “ambassador.” An official with Trump’s transition team confirmed the appointment, according to multiple reports.
The appointment had been rumored since Vice President-elect Mike Pence accompanied Johnson, 69, to a Jets game in December. Asked about the possibility earlier this month, Johnson downplayed it, saying it was just speculation but adding he was honored to be mentioned in such discussions.
Johnson, a businessman and philanthropist whose family founded the Johnson & Johnson corporation, was a major contributor to Trump’s campaign, served as vice chairman of Trump’s victory committee and was a member of his inaugural committee, although he initially backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination.
Earlier in the election, Trump, who has known Johnson for years, took a shot at the Jets owner on Twitter, writing: “Woody Johnson, owner of the NYJets, is @JebBush’s finance chairman. If Woody would’ve been w/me, he would’ve been in the playoffs, at least!”
Johnson bought the Jets in 2000, but the franchise has had mixed results ever since and has failed to end its nearly half-century world championship drought.
ProFootballTalk reported earlier this month that if Johnson were appointed to the post, he would hand control of the Jets over to his younger brother, Christopher Wold Johnson.
The appointment is for three years.
The move to appoint an NFL owner as an ambassador is not unprecedented. Steelers owner Dan Rooney served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12.