While the worlds of professional athletes and millionaire investments grow increasingly intertwined with one another, one of the more fascinating trends in professional sports has to do with their electric counterparts. Over the past several years, video game tournaments have gone from fringe events that rarely get attention to a successful international enterprise.
As such, deep-pocketed individuals from around the world are putting their money toward the growing business. Kevin Durant and Odell Beckham Jr. are using this industry to expand on their portfolios off the court
Athletes and esports
Video games and sports have always gone hand in hand. Madden, NBA 2K, FIFA, and dozens of other franchises have built lucrative brands combining the two. With every new generation of an athlete coming from a time where everyone plays video games, it comes as no surprise that there are passionate gamers across every sport. Many athletes are taking this further by investing, however.
Rick Fox was one of the early investors in esports, founding Echo Fox in 2015 when esports were in the early stages of taking over the globe. Fox was ousted from the company that he helped build in 2019, however, but the snowball effect of athletes getting involved in companies like this might not have been possible without him.
Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry, and Andre Iguodala have all invested in esports. This does not just cover NBA 2K and other sporting franchises. It includes Fortnite, Call of Duty, Smash Brothers, and several other games that are popular within the community. It is a big investment, but one that could pay off if the gaming world keeps growing.
Odell Beckham and Kevin Durant join the team
In 2018, news broke that Durant and Beckham were joining Vision Esports, which operates esports teams across the world. These big-name athletes joined a leadership group that also included the St. Louis Cardinals, who joined the team at the same time as them, and the New York Yankees. Vision Esports, which is also a partner in Echo Fox, is one of the largest investment groups in the world of esports.
Dan Good of the Cardinals spoke about why the investment was a no-brainer for the baseball franchise.
“We have been following the esports sector for several years,” said Good (per Smart Series). “In the last year, we have gotten to know the team at Vision Esports and felt this was an exciting investment opportunity.”
It is these types of whales that help make esports thrive. Not only does their status as millionaires allow them to invest serious capital into their projects, but the publicity that comes with their support can help bring new people into the fold. Stratton Sclavos of Vision Esports spoke about this impact with Smart Series.
“Our investors are some of the smartest and most accomplished names in sports and media and they share our passion, committing not only capital, but also their organisational [sic] resources and relationships in our quest to change the professional sports landscape,” Sclavos said (per Smart Series).
A smart investment
Esports is a great investment not only for the modern athlete but for anyone who has the capital and the organizational structure to allow it to thrive. Video games are no longer just a hobby, they are something far bigger. Beckham and Durant saw this and might see their multi-million dollar investments pay dividends as the world continues to grow.
These athletes might have success on the court or field, but it is what they do off the field that defines their ability to keep money flowing when the paychecks stop. By seeing the writing on the wall with esports investing, they took a chance on an industry that is making people a lot of money, and they should do so barring something unforeseen.