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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Derrick

Celebs 🤝 Sports ownership

It seems every other day we’re hearing of a new sports team going on the market and with it, another celebrity in the running to purchase.

Whilst it’s by no means a new thing, it’s definitely seeing an acceleration with more-and-more sports people getting involved. And apart from being a potentially lucrative nest egg once they retire, ownership is doing wonderful things for these people’s personal brands.

Hot off the heels of Tom Brady’s minority purchase of Birmingham FC, let’s explore the power of sports investment for your personal brand.

Activation of your personal purpose

Aligning yourself to a specific sports team is a great way to live your purpose. More-and-more we’re seeing high-profile athletes/celebrities define their own purpose and values, showing they act for something bigger than themselves and taking active responsibility for the powerful platforms they have. This looks to be one of the main drivers at the moment, with money an added bonus. Some of the most brilliant purpose-led ownerships are:

🐴 Lewis Hamilton x Denver Broncos: co-ownership is a bid to create a more ethnically diverse franchise within the NFL, aligning with his purpose of changing diversity in sport.

🐬 Serena and Venus’ Williams x Miami Dolphins: co-ownership is in the hope of creating more opportunities for women in sport - getting women a seat in the boardroom and driving change of female misogyny.

🕊 Natalie Portman, Kara Nortman, Julie Uhrman, Sophia Bush, Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, Candice Parker, et al. x Angel City FC: aligning with each of their own personal purposes to improve female representation and opportunities.

🐏 Stormzy and Wilfried Zaha x AFC Croydon Athletic: One of the newer partnerships comes from these Croydon natives who have huge dreams of increasing youth participation and creating more opportunities for girls in Croydon, two spaces that can be easily achieved through football.

Aids in your own storytelling

‘They just complete you’. ‘You just make sense together’ Sometimes the easiest way to showcase who you are is through a partnership - those incredible partnerships that make so much sense you wish you had thought of yourself. And with that, you build your personal brand awareness because of it. We have seen these across:

🏰 Women x Lewes FC: Lewes FC is on the road to being the most well known non-league football franchises in the UK thanks to its revolutionary business model of being 100% owned by its fans, being female managed and promising equal pay to both mens and women's teams.

😇 Magic Johnson x LA Dodgers (Baseball) x LA Sparks (WNBA): Magic. The King of L.A. Having dominated playing for the LA Lakers, it makes perfect sense for Magic to invest in sport in his hometown, across baseball and the WNBA.

🐻 Justin Timberlake x Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis native and proud, it seemed only fitting that Timberlake would add a Memphis sports team to his Memphis love book.

🏀 Will Smith x Philadelphia 76er’s: “In West Philadelphia born and raised”. You know the line, and so much like Timberlake, it’s really a no brainer for Will Smith to show his love, passion and commitment to his hometown that has already given him so much.

🔴 Patrick Mahomes x Kansas City: If Mahome’s status as an icon in Kansas City was in question (it wasn't), his ongoing investment in what seems to be every KC team surely cements it. Now equity owner of Kansas City Royals (Baseball), Sporting Kansas City (MLS) and Kansas City Current (NWSL), Mahome’s love and appreciation for this city is clear.

🦁 Naomi Osaka x North Carolina Courage: As Osaka perfectly put it herself, "the women who have invested in me growing up made me who I am today, I don't know where I would be without them", further showing her appreciation in the equity ownership of the NWSL team.

🐝 Special mention to Michael Jordan who’s ownership of the Charlotte Hornets was one of the smartest and most authentic partnership’s seen (until he decided to sell).

Diversify’s you beyond what you’re known for

Being pigeon holed is tricky for anyone and can lead to career slowdown. Expanding your interests and investments gives your personal brand layers and longevity. Some of those looking to diversify what they’re known for and with that, broaden and safeguard their income streams are:

🟥 LeBron James x Fenway Sports: Yes, LeBron loves Liverpool which likely guided this purchase, but Fenway Sports is a huge investor in other sports teams too, such as the Boston Red Sox, so LeBron has a wide portfolio of bankable teams (until he sells).

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney x Wrexham AFC: Talk about Ted Lasso in real time. Take two celebrities with little understanding of football, but a desire to create what is set to be one of the greatest underdog stories of all time. And both boys personal brands are shining because of it.

Now we see if their recent purchase of Alpine F1 shares will continue their reign.

🍒 Michael B. Jordan x AFC Bournemouth: Already sort of pigeon holed as the ‘boxer from Creed’, Michael B. Jordan has made a potentially very clever business decision to invest in AFC Bournemouth (and now Alpine F1) to commence his sports portfolio and investment name.

🧊 Ice Cube x Big 3: Hip Hop superstar Ice Cube is not only CEO but co-owner and CEO of the Big 3 basketball league, a fast-paced version made popular by retired or unsuccessful NBA players looking to continue their professional careers.

So whilst it may not be new, the concept of athlete ownership is accelerating across sports, in both the UK and US especially. As a way to build your personal brand, it’s going to be fascinating to see how these superstar athletes compete with each other, especially on the underdog stage.

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