A detailed photo of the fanatic costume displayed at NFL Hospitality during the 2018 NFL Annual Meeting at Ritz Carlton Orlando, Great Lakes, March 26, 2018 in Orlando, Florida.
Mark Brown | Getty Images
The NFL, other major sports leagues, player unions and team owners are leading the latest round of investments in the fast-growing online platform company Fanatics.
That being said, the latest investment totals 1.5 billion. The NFL has kicked off the biggest, 320 million. The value of fanatics is 27 billion.
The NFL Players Association has also made an investment. Other investors include Major League Baseball and its player unions, as well as the National Hockey League.
Joseph Sai, co-founder of Alibaba and owner of Brooklyn Nets and owner of the Qatar Investment Authority, Paris Saint-Germain soccer team, is also an investor in this latest round.
This latest round of financing continues the trend of a slice pie among leagues and player associations. Similarly, the NBA recently acquired a 3% stake in SportRadar.
Florida-based Fanatics was founded in 2011 by Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. It has exclusive licensing agreements with the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and official team products and sales with colleges and universities.
The company has ambitions beyond just commodities. Earlier this year, the company entered the trading card industry and acquired Tops Trading Card for $ 500 million. Fanatics Trading Card Entity is now worth $ 10 billion after financing 350 million last September.
Leagues, players’ associations and team owners now own about 10% of the fanatics. The NFL and MLB first invested $ 150 million in Fanatics in 2017. CNBC has previously reported that other investors in recent rounds of funding include Fidelity, Blackrock and Michael Dell’s MSD partners.
“This investment not only reflects our years of experience working with the team at Michael & Fanatics but we believe the future is very bright for this company,” an NFL spokesman told CNBC about the latest investment round.
Last year, Fanatics launched Candy Digital, which sells nonfangible tokens or NFTs. The company also owns half of the hat retailer Leeds Sports Group, which it acquired in 2019.
The fanatics are now trying to enter the sports gambling scene by launching an online sportsbook. Matt King, the former CEO of Fanduel, is leading the charge.
With all this growth comes speculation about a possible initial public offer, but the fanatics are holding fast for now.
“Although an IPO is definitely an option available to us, there are no timeline updates,” said a company spokesman. “Our focus remains on business expansion and building a leading digital sports platform in the next decade and beyond.”
Fanatics is a two-time CNBC Disruptor 50 company. Sign up for our weekly, original newsletter that goes off the annual Disruptor 50 list, offering a closer look at private companies like Fanatics that continue to innovate across every sector of the economy.