Pro-Sports Leagues Back Fanatics, NFL Invests $320 Million

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on April 8, 2022

The National Football League is putting money behind Fanatics with a $320 million investment in the sports merchandise maker’s latest funding round. 

Fanatics owner Michael Rubin has yet to say whether or not the company will commence an initial public offering (IPO). Furthermore, Rubin also hasn’t publicly commented on the company’s plans to enter the online gaming industry. 

NFL investing big bucks in Fanatics

Fanatics’ latest round of investing totaled a massive $1.5 billion, with the NFL contributing the largest portion. Currently, Fanatics holds a $27 billion valuation.

Speaking with CNBC, Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer, said:

“This investment not only reflects our experience having worked with Michael [Rubin] and the team at Fanatics for a number of years but our belief that the company is building a business that is new, unique and valuable.”

Other investors include:

  • The NFL Players Association
  • National Hockey League
  • Major League Baseball (MLB) + its player’s union
  • BlackRock
  • Fidelity
  • Dell founder Michael De

This isn’t the first time the NFL has given Fanatics money. In 2017, the NFL and MLB invested $150 million in the company. Since then, the pro-sports leagues, players’ associations and team owners now own 10% of Rubin’s company.

New trends emerging

The NFL’s investment continues a trend of professional sports leagues dipping their fingers into the gaming space. 

Last year, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced a partnership with sports betting data firm Sportradar. Under the agreement, the NBA has a 3% equity stake in the company for 10 years. At the time, Sportradar held $6.8 billion, making the NBA’s equity stake worth around $200 million. 

The NFL also owns 7.7% of Genius Sports ($GENI), another sports betting data provider. In 2020, Genius Sports inked a four-year deal worth $1 billion to become the league’s exclusive data provider. 

As of writing, shares of $GENI were trading at $4.17.

Fanatics is patiently waiting 

Last year, Fanatics filed several patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Among these applications were patents for a Fanatics branded casino and sportsbook. 

The company was not selected to enter the New York sports betting market. Rumors also surfaced that Fanatics wanted to acquire an online gaming company. There was speculation the company had talks with Rush Street Interactive and PointsBet, to name a few. 

Photo by Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for Playin USA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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