Ownership among professional athletes is at an all-time high. The stereotype of the young, rich, Black athlete recklessly spending money and going broke is all but dead. Today’s professional athletes are investing in industries like tech, media, crypto-currency and ride sharing, to name a few. Self-empowerment is the new cool.
Kevin Durant, Venture Capitalist
When Kevin Durant signed with The Golden State Warriors in 2016 he was widely criticized for “taking the easy way out.” Quietly, a big part of the decision was about being able to play and live in the tech investment capital of the world.
He went from having the most endorsements in the league, to having one of the most diverse investment portfolios of anyone in the league after making the move to the Bay Area. His venture capital firm, Thirty Five Ventures, currently holds investments in tech companies like Coinbase, Acorns, Postmates, Robinhood, Rubrik and about 15 other companies.
Several of Durant’s Golden State teammates also have deep investment portfolios. Andre Iguodala invested in the popular ecommerce based mattress brand Casper, and financial literacy website NerdWallet.
All-Star Point Guard Steph Curry reportedly has a stake in Pinterest and co-founded a marketing startup called Slyce.
Lebron James, Media Mogul
Recently we found out which NBA and WNBA players will be joining Lebron James in the upcoming Space Jam sequel. What you may not know is Warner Brothers is partnering with Lebron’s production company, Springhill Entertainment, to produce the latest installment of the iconic franchise.
James is largely responsible for the wave of self-empowered Black athletes have seen in recent years. He took steps toward ownership early on in his career.
In 2011 he acquired part ownership in a professional soccer team in Liverpool. He walked away from a guaranteed $15 million in 2012 from McDonald’s to invest in Blaze Pizza franchises. Blaze is now the fastest growing restaurant chain ever, and his $1 million initial investment is now worth $25 million
He also cashed out in 2014 when Apple bought Beats, due to the equity he took as opposed to a traditional endorsement. Additionally, his production company has produced or is currently developing over 30 television shows and movies.
The Big 3 Changing Face of League Ownership
There is a lot of talk about how the NFL, and to a lesser degree the NBA doesn’t value it’s majority-Black labor force. There aren’t any Black owners in the NFL, and only one in the NBA. The number of Black executives in both sports is also extremely low.
The Big3 is a breath of fresh air. The commissioner and face of the league is not only Black, but a pioneer of hip-hop culture — the same culture the NFL and NBA exploit for profit.
The Big3 will be televised live this season Saturday nights on CBS, a huge milestone for a new league. The results clearly show that we don’t have to continue to be marginalized. Taking ownership and creating your own way takes power away from systems created to keep us dependent.