Fanatics bought Mitchell & Ness in February 2022.
Some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment are investing in Fanatics’ lifestyle clothing brand, Mitchell & Ness.
Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin says 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. Stout.
Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia, Mitchell & Ness now manufactures and sells jerseys and vintage apparel collections for nearly every major sports league. In February, Fanatics bought a 75% stake in Mitchell & Ness, with the remaining stake going to a celebrity cohort including Jay-Z, LeBron James’ business partner, Maverick Carter and rapper Meek Mill. The deal valued Mitchell & Ness at $250 million. New 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 transforming into a multi-billion dollar brand.
“Adding owners like we did today is a big step forward,” he added.
Rubin announced the news during The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live on Tuesday evening. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We’re really excited to get the people who grow to become owners and join us on this,” Rubin told CNBC later Tuesday.
Fanatics, which started as a sports merchandising company selling t-shirts and jerseys, has grown rapidly, becoming a $27 billion sports hub for millions of sports fans. In January, it acquired 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 trendsetters.
Jay-Z first became a fan of the brand due to its timeless appeal. “Fashion is cyclical, but classics are forever. Mitchell & Ness is a true classic,” he said in February. “I am proud to play a small part in its restoration and, in some cases, in introducing the authenticity and quality of the Mitchell & Ness brand to a new generation,” he added.
Rubin said Jay-Z helped bring this team together and convinced Rubin to buy the brand in the first place. The group was attracted by the possibility of further influencing the culture and appeal of the property.
“Athletes and celebrities and artists are tired of getting checks, they want to make money with equity. They want to be partners in these ventures,” Rubin said.
For LeBron James, Mitchell & Ness holds a special place. When the budding basketball superstar was 16, he saw a man at 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 have come together through their love for Mitchell & Ness,” Rubin said.
Fanatics used its customer database of over 94 million sports fans to attract new fans to grow Michell and Ness’ business. In June, Mitchell & Ness signed a rights agreement to manufacture products for all 32 NHL teams.
Fanatics says men’s and women’s street fashion and authentic nostalgics are among the fastest growing areas within the Fanatics Commerce business.
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