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Fanatics extends deal with Nike to Japan’s most popular baseball team

A woman browses a merchandise store in Tokyo Dome before the Japan Central League baseball game between Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima Carp on October 14, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Court Carl | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Sports commerce platform Fanatics is expanding a recently signed long-term partnership with Nike to include the manufacture and distribution of merchandise for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most popular and successful baseball team.

In addition to exclusive merchandising rights, Fanatics will operate e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail operations for the Yomiuri Giants and plans to revamp Tokyo Dome retail stores before the 2023 season. Nike will become the official uniform supplier of the Yomiuri Giants. Yomiuri Giants. Fanatics will make on-pitch uniforms and player performance items, as well as additional Nike-branded jerseys and apparel sold online and in physical stores. Fanatics also creates autographs and collectibles for Yomiuri Giants fans.

The Yomiuri Giants are the first sports team outside of the United States to adopt this Nike-Fanatics model for athletic and field merchandise. Fanatics, a major player in sports merchandising, has exclusive licensing agreements with the NFL, NHL, MLB, as well as various colleges and universities. Several of these deals, including the NFL and MLB, also overlap with Nike jersey and apparel offerings.

A partnership between Fanatics and Nike was struck earlier this year for Fanatics to manufacture American college athletic apparel, which is expected to begin in 2024.

The three-time CNBC Disruptor 50 has a private valuation of $27 billion.

Fanatics has evolved in recent years to include collectibles, sports betting and NFT businesses. The private company, founded by Michael Rubin, has also made several acquisitions. In 2020 it acquired sporting goods maker WinCraft, and earlier this year it bought trading card company Topps for $500 million. Earlier this year, CNBC reported that Fanatics was in talks to buy sports betting company Tipico, although a deal has yet to be reached.

Rubin recently divested his stakes in the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers due to the growth of industries with potential conflicts of interest, including betting and licensing agreements with individual athletes.

Fanatics has more than 10,000 employees in 57 countries, serving nearly 100 million sports fans worldwide.

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