Fanatics spreads its wings in two directions

Tom Paine

Michael Rubin’s Fanatics Inc. last week announced new funding that raised its valuation to $18 billion. The Jacksonville-based company, a part of Rubin’s Conshohocken-based Kynetic LLC holding company, is widely viewed as a soon-to-be IPO candidate.

Now Fanatics is attempting to branch in two new directions that do not involve apparel sales, potentially adding to its growth and increasing margins.

First, it won a license from the MLB Players Association, first reported today, replacing Topps (and Panini’s) as the exclusive baseball card partner of the MLBPA after Panini’s and Topps’ licenses with the MLBPA expire at the end of 2022.

The deal also includes the National Basketball Players Association and the NFL Players Association.

Meanwhile, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Rubin are a part of a group applying for an online sports betting license in New York, and plan to form Fanatics Sportsbook.

Sports betting tech company Kambi is leading that bid that also includes Berks County-based gaming giant Penn National, which owns Barstool Sportsbook.

The New York State Gaming Association is aiming to award the new licenses by December 6, so betting can start on the Super Bowl.

In both initiatives, Fanatics stressed the opportunity to leverage its unique fan databases on the new businesses.