Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin is selling his 10% stake in the company that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils to pursue new business ventures that would otherwise conflict with owning a sports team professional,” Rubin said in a statement Wednesday.
“As our Fanatics business has grown, the hurdles I must overcome to ensure our new ventures do not conflict with my responsibilities as co-owner of the Sixers have also grown,” Rubin said. said in a press release. “With the launch of our Trading Cards and Collectibles business earlier this year – which will have individual contracts with thousands of athletes worldwide – a soon-to-be-launched sports betting operation, these new ventures will directly conflict with sports league ownership rules.”
Rubin, 49, was part of the ownership group led by Joshua Harris and David Blitzer that bought the 76ers in 2011 for $280 million. The group then bought the Devils in 2013 for $320 million. Harris and Blitzer then formed the company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment in 2017 to serve as the parent company for its various properties.
Rubin, who has a net worth of $8 billion, according to Forbes, told Fox Sports’ Yaron Weitzman that he began planning to sell his stake in the company over the past 18 months. Meanwhile, Fanatics reached a valuation of $18 billion in September 2021 – 10 years after Rubin acquired the online retailer of licensed apparel, equipment and other sports merchandise in 2011.
Fanatics has agreements with several professional sports leagues for its licensed products, but the foray into sports betting and individual partnerships with athletes could conflict with collective bargaining rules.
“Fanatics just got to a size where it’s no longer possible for me to run it and officially be part of the Sixers,” Rubin told Weitzman. “No one came up to me and said, ‘Hey, Michael, you have to sell. It was clear based on these companies [that] we have no choice but to sell.”
Rubin, who reportedly tried to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018, has “no interest” in buying another team in the future, according to Weitzman.
Rubin’s connection to the NBA and the Sixers
Rubin grew up watching the Sixers in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania — just 14 miles from Philadelphia. He eventually met former NBA commissioner David Stern when he convinced Stern to accept a deal between the NBA and Rubin’s former company, Global Sports Incorporated, per Weitzman.
Rubin also has personal relationships with members of the 76ers, including Joel Embiid and James Harden, the latter of whom sparked reports of a possible tampering investigation after Philadelphia acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets last season. The NBA never looked into the allegations, however.
“When you’re lucky enough to be part of an ownership group that buys a sports franchise, you have one primary responsibility to your city: to win championships,” Rubin said in his statement. “Like all of you, I’m obviously disappointed that we haven’t accomplished that yet. However, I think the team is very well positioned with a world-class ownership group, led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, a forward dynamic office and coaching staff, and an incredible group of star players who are more determined than ever to bring the City of Philadelphia a title.”