Ronaldo, Brady and LeBron may have bragging rights to some of the best-selling jerseys in sports, but they’ve got nothing on the guy who makes them.
Michael Rubin, chairman of Fanatics, saw his net worth surge $2.7 billion to $6.2 billion, after the company raised $320 million in funding that valued the jersey-maker at $12.8 billion, according to people close to the deal.
The funding round, led by Silver Lake and including Fidelity, Neuberger Berman, Franklin Templeton, Thrive Capital, Blackstone and Major League Baseball, more than doubled the $6.2 billion the company was valued at last summer.
Fanatics sells official jerseys and other apparel for sports teams, and makes up the bulk of Rubin’s fortune, which includes stakes in flash-sales sites Rue La La and Gilt, several sports teams and properties in New York City, the Hamptons and his hometown of Bryn Mawr, PA.
Fanatics, which said it will use the capital to bolster manufacturing capabilities, pursue acquisitions and expand internationally, has been a shining star for Rubin, who purchased the outfit from eBay in 2011 for $277 million. The profitable venture is expected to do $3 billion in sales this year, with the majority coming from e-commerce orders, which are up more than 30% so far this year. A company spokesperson said an IPO is “clearly an available option” but offered no update on timeline.
In the meantime, Rubin has been selling off other parts of his retail portfolio. In December, he inked a deal with FedEx to sell ShopRunner, a membership program that offers free shipping from over 100 retailers. In 2019, he sold half of Rue Gilt Groupe (the parent company of Rue La La and Gilt) to mall operator Simon Property Group for $280 million. As part of the deal, the two companies partnered on an online venture that aims to bring outlet shopping online.
Rubin, 48, first got into the retail business in 1998 when he dropped out of Villanova University and started GSI Commerce, which offered e-commerce and digital marketing services to retailers. He sold the company to eBay in 2011 for $2.4 billion. As part of the deal, he paid $500 million for majority ownership of three assets eBay didn’t want: Fanatics, Rue La La and ShopRunner.
He also owns minority stakes in the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils and the English Premier League soccer team Crystal Palace FC. In January, he purchased a $50 million beachfront property in the Hamptons.
His net worth has now surpassed other titans in the sporting goods world, including Under Armour founder Kevin Plank ($2 billion) and the longtime CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods Ed Stack ($1.5 billion).