Skip to main content

Fanatics Valued at $31 Billion

Sports merchandising firm Fanatics is now valued at $31 billion after its latest reported funding.

The seller of branded sports apparel and collectibles raised $700 million from a group of investors, according to recent reports.

Unnamed sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the funding round was led by private equity firm Clearlake Capital Group LP and other investors not previously associated with the company, including banking firm LionTree LLC. Prior investors including Silver Lake, Fidelity Management & Research Co. and SoftBank Group Corp. also participated.

Fanatics plans to use the common-stock funding to advance plans for strategic mergers and acquisitions, with the intent to expand into new verticals including sports betting and gaming, sources told WSJ. CEO Michael Rubin is looking to branch out from Fanatics’s merchandise business, which has accounted for almost $6 billion out of $7 billion total revenue in 2022, they said. Earlier this year, Fanatics’s $1.5 billion raise bumped its valuation $27 billion.

Fanatics has inked high-profile partnerships with brands and sports teams in recent years. In July, it expanded its licensing agreement with Nike to include NCAA retail fanwear and sideline products. Under the agreement, Fanatics Brands will become the fan apparel and headwear licensee for several top colleges and universities beginning in summer 2024, producing products from replica jerseys to hats and T-shirts.

At the time, Fanatics said it was focused on growing Nike’s women’s fan gear business. It planned to follow merchandising models similar to the ones developed with Nike for the NFL and MLB, allowing Nike to focus on product development and performance while the licensee would optimize the fan experience.

In November, Nike and Fanatics said they would pursue this model with Japanese baseball team the Yomiuri Giants. Nike will become the team’s official uniform supplier, while Fanatics will manufacture and distribute the on-field uniforms and Nike-branded fan jerseys and apparel. Fanatics said it would tap its memorabilia channel to create and sell autographed collectibles.

Related Stories

The Yomiuri Giants will be the first individual club to adopt the merchandising model. A long-term agreement between the parties will see Fanatics operate the team’s physical and digital retail businesses, with a new site launch and store restorations planned for the start of the 2023 season. Fanatics will also become the master licensee for the Yomiuri Giants merchandise portfolio.

“Since we began our journey in Asia five years ago, we focused on creating value for the fans with a strong belief that our global vertical business model would benefit them and work across Asia,” Fanatics East Asia managing director Masanori Kawana said. “This innovative model, which has proven to be successful with some of the biggest U.S. professional leagues and Universities, will be a complete game-changer for the Asian Sports industry and will benefit Yomiuri Giants fans with a larger selection of high-quality merchandise available wherever they are and whenever they want it.”

Fanatics also has a shared investment with activewear and lifestyle apparel supplier Delta Apparel Inc. for new digital printing capabilities. In March, the partners announced that Fanatics would support the installation of Delta’s DTG2Go digital print technology in four of the supplier’s factories so the manufacturer can print garments for Fanatics.

“This new technology significantly increased our capacity, allowing us to proudly meet the high demand for garments for fans of the L.A. Rams after their recent Super Bowl victory,” Robert W. Humphreys, chairman and CEO of Delta Apparel, said at the time. The first-of-its-kind process, developed to support Fanatics’ need for licensed sports merchandise in real time, enhances print aesthetics and repeatability standards so that quality printing can be done quickly and at scale.