In this week’s SportsMoney Playbook: a WNBA star-turned-VC partner, UFC’s Asian expansion and the NFL’s pipeline of female talent. Plus: Crypto’s sports branding battle heats up.
Disney underwhelmed with its latest earnings, but sports have remained a bright spot for the company, which is betting on a lucrative future in sports gambling through its ESPN brand. Others certainly see the potential of the industry as well: A nascent sports betting exchange founded by three former FanDuel executives just raised $21 million in a seed funding round.
With a $22 billion sale to DraftKings now off the table, Entain is launching an initiative to bring more women into the industry and combat problem gambling.
Galvanized by the poor recycling habits of his former minor league club, MLB journeyman Chris Dickerson is trying to inspire other pro athletes to protect the environment through his nonprofit. “The consequences are dire on multiple levels if we sit back and do nothing,” he tells us.
Alex Rodriguez‘s years-long legal headache over a real estate venture gone sour has come to an end after he reached a settlement with his former brother-in-law.
The rise of women in the NFL is not a coincidence. One league executive is expanding a pipeline that has helped land 12 female coaches in the league this season.
Investors from North America have begun pouring into Italian soccer, but New York-based lawyer Joe Tacopina has been at it for a decade. What sparked his interest? The owner of Serie B‘s SPAL tells us he saw “the most undervalued property in all sports for the way it was operated.”
Uttering a racial slur during an online contest nearly cost Kyle Larson his career, but the newly crowned Nascar Cup Series champion is making the most of his second chance. An Xfinity Series driver labeled the “best guy in the garage” is also savoring an especially meaningful championship.
Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd are poised to lead UConn on a deep NCAA tournament run, and they’re scoring off the court, too: Bueckers signed her first major name, image and likeness deal with StockX while Fudd inked a deal with BioSteel that includes equity. Meanwhile, Kentucky guard TyTy Washington is taking advantage of the new NIL regulations in a different way, forming a nonprofit to benefit single mothers, students and teachers.
Mixed Martial Arts
More than 50% of the fighters on the UFC roster come from outside the U.S., so it’s only natural the promotion would look to grow the sport around the world. “Asia is that next frontier for us,” a UFC executive tells us.
The U.S. is getting the chance to co-host cricket’s 2024 T20 World Cup, which could generate momentum for the sport’s $3 million bid to join the Olympic program at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
Former WNBA Star Renee Montgomery Has A New Position: Venture Capitalist
Renee Montgomery shook the WNBA world last year when she opted out of her 12th season to turn her attention full time to her social justice efforts. Now, she has joined Atlanta-based Valor Ventures as a general partner, becoming one of the first former professional athletes, if not the first, to join an existing venture firm in that role.
Upon Further Review
Mark Cuban wants a new arena for his Dallas Mavericks, who have played at the American Airlines Center since 2001. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs are set to make a big change with their own home as they seek a new naming rights partner. Each franchise could see its valuation rise as a result, with the Mavericks currently worth $2.7 billion and the Spurs at $1.98 billion. See the full list of NBA team valuations.
The Last Word
“The reason why I really do my own sponsorship stuff is really just because I can’t afford to pay anyone to do it. I got to worry about rent.” – Ryan Vargas
Ryan Vargas has gotten quite good at marketing himself and attracting sponsors, which has been a necessity for the 21-year-old Nascar Xfinity Series driver. Vargas’ team, JD Motorsports, lacks the deep pockets of other organizations, so if he wants to keep racing, he has to hustle. Read more about Nascar’s marketing phenom.
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