Sports platform Fanatics hits a $27 billion valuation after raising a staggering $1.5B in new funding, adds BlackRock, Michael Dell as investors
Fanatics, a Jacksonville, Florida-based sports merchandise retailer that manufactures fan gear and jerseys across retail channels, has raised a massive $1.5 billion in new financing, valuing the sports platform at $27 billion. The announcement comes a little over a month after Fanatics purchased the trading cards and collectibles business from Topps.
The latest funding round includes new investors Fidelity, BlackRock, and Michael Dell’s private investment firm MSD Capital, as well as existing investors. The news about the funding was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Last August, Fanatics was valued at $18 billion when it raised $325 million from investors including SoftBank Group Corp’s Vision Fund. The startup will use the new funding proceeds to leverage its fan base to build a sports commerce powerhouse that operates gaming, sports betting and media business units on top of its retail operations.
Fanatics said in February the company, along with American rapper Jay-Z and other celebrities, acquired 118-year-old Mitchell & Ness, known for its jersey replicas and streetwear. Earlier this year, Fanatics acquired Topps trading cards for $500 million. Its’ trading card entity is now valued at $10 billion after a $350 million round of funding last September.
Founded in 1995 by CEO Michael Rubin, Alan Trager, and Mitch Trager, Fanatics designs, manufactures and distributes high-quality fan gear and jerseys across retail channels. Its sports platform currently reaches more than 900 sports properties globally. Fanatics also has a database of more than 81 million global consumers.
Rubin, who is also the co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, started Fanatics in 2011. That same year, he sold a sports e-commerce business to eBay for $2.4 billion, bought back parts of it, and acquired Fanatics — which back then was a two-store retail operation.
The company is now expanding across the sports landscape and creating a next-gen digital sports platform, complete with offerings including merchandise, NFTs, sports betting and gaming, trading cards, and much more.
Fanatics now has exclusive licensing deals with the NFL, NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and scores of colleges and universities to make and sell jerseys, caps, and tons of other official team merchandise.