LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Joel Embiid are among a celebrity-laden group investing in sports apparel company Mitchell & Ness, which Fanatics purchased last year for $250 million.
Other investors include actor Kevin Hart, NFL player Odell Beckham Jr., record executive Steve Stoute, and three more NBA players—Devin Booker, Chris Paul and CJ McCollum. They join a cap table that already features rappers Jay-Z, Meek Mill and Lil Baby, who were part of the original Fanatics acquisition back in February.
Financial specifics weren’t provided. Fanatics will continue to hold 75% of the company, which is well known for its throwback jerseys and retro apparel. The strategic investors—old and new—will share the other 25%.
The announcement comes about a week after Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin completed the sale of his ownership stakes in the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, where Embiid and Harden currently play. That will free him up to partner and collaborate more freely with NBA players and agents, without potential conflicts of interest.
In addition to capital, the star-studded group will lend influence in sports, entertainment and culture to the 118-year-old brand. Down the line, that influence could translate to collaborations, capsule collections and—perhaps most importantly—marketing power.
That’s a complement to Fanatics, the world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, which is in the process of merging its e-commerce empire and global expertise with the existing licenses and infrastructure of Mitchell & Ness. One of the company’s main goals is to expand into new areas—in June, Mitchell & Ness added rights to all 32 NHL teams—which is expected to accelerate in the coming months.
Maverick Carter, a longtime business partner of James, was one of the original Mitchell & Ness LPs, and Rich Paul, James’ longtime agent, is coming in as part of this group. Other new investors include music manager Scooter Braun, and longtime Durant business partner Rich Kleiman.
Mitchell & Ness had $350 million in revenue last year, according to someone familiar with the business. Adidas purchased the company in 2007 and sold it in 2016 to Juggernaut Capital Partners.
Mitchell & Ness was established in 1904 as a sporting goods company specializing in tennis racquets, golf clubs and uniforms. In 1933, it began making on-field uniforms for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and later expanded to other sports. The business pivoted in 1983 after a customer asked for repairs to his vintage St. Louis Browns jersey. Executives realized the company owned thousands of yards of discarded wool flannel and that there might be a market for nostalgia products.