LeBron James, Kevin Durant and other big names invest in Fanatics lifestyle brand Mitchell & Ness

Fanatics bought Mitchell & Ness in February of 2022.
Source: Fanatics

Some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment are investing in Fanatics’ lifestyle clothing brand, Mitchell & Ness.

Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin said the new ownership group will include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, CJ McCollum, Devin Booker, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Odell Beckham Jr., Kevin Hart, Rich Paul, Rich Kleiman, Scooter Braun and Steve Stoute.

Established in 1904 in Philadelphia, Mitchell & Ness now makes and sells vintage jerseys and apparel collections for nearly every major sports league. In February, Fanatics purchased a 75% stake in the Mitchell & Ness with the remaining stake going to a celebrity cohort that included Jay-Z, LeBron James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, and rapper Meek Mill. The deal valued Mitchell & Ness at $250 million. The newest investors will be part of this cohort.

Mitchell & Ness is now a $350 million business, having grown 30% this year, Rubin told CNBC. He sees it one day turning into a multibillion-dollar brand.

“Adding owners like we did today is a great step towards doing that,” he added.

Rubin announced the news at The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live on Tuesday evening. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re really excited to get people that are making culture to be to owners and band together with us on this,” Rubin told CNBC later Tuesday.

Fanatics, which began as a sports merchandising company selling t-shirts and jerseys, has had a rapid ascent, growing into a $27 billion sports hub for millions of sports fans. In January, it acquired the trading card company Topps and in early 2023 it plans to launch sports betting.

The new owners say they plan to make Mitchell & Ness “the most diverse and culturally relevant consumer brand” through their influence and status as tastemakers.

Jay-Z initially became a fan of the brand because of its timeless appeal. “Fashion is cyclical, but classics are forever. Mitchell & Ness is a true classic,” he said in February. “I’m proud to play a small role in bringing it back, and in some cases, introducing the authenticity and quality of the Mitchell & Ness brand to a new generation,” he added.

Rubin said Jay-Z was instrumental in getting this team together and convincing Rubin to buy the brand in the first place. The group was enticed by the chance to further influence culture and the appeal of ownership.

Athletes, celebrities and artists are sick of just getting checks, they want to make money from equity. They want to be partners in these businesses,” said Rubin.

For LeBron James, Mitchell & Ness holds a special place. When the then-budding basketball superstar was 16, he saw a man in the airport wearing a Houston Oilers jersey. The two struck up a conversation because of it and that’s how James met his longtime agent Rich Paul.

“LeBron James and Rich Paul came together by their love for Mitchell & Ness,” Rubin said.

Fanatics has utilized its customer database of over 94 million sports fans to attract new fans to grow Michell and Ness’s business. In June, Mitchell & Ness signed a rights deal to manufacture products for all 32 NHL teams.

Fanatics says men’s and women’s street fashion and nostalgic authentics are some of the fastest-growing areas within the Fanatics Commerce business.

Fanatics is a three-time CNBC Disruptor 50 company. Sign up for our weekly, original newsletter that goes beyond the annual Disruptor 50 list, offering a closer look at private companies like Fanatics that continue to innovate across every sector of the economy.

Sophie Tremblay

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