Michael Jordan eyes sports betting empire after DraftKings equity deal

Jordan, 57, is also an investor in burgeoning sports betting data firm Sportradar.

NBA legend Michael Jordan is all in on the burgeoning legal sports betting industry following his acquisition of an equity stake in DraftKings on Wednesday.

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Jordan, owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, added his DraftKings stake to an investment portfolio that already includes Sportradar, a prominent sports betting data firm that has partnerships with all four major U.S. sports leagues. The six-time NBA champion is taking an active role in DraftKings at a time of major growth in sports betting, which is now legal in 18 states and under consideration in several others.

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“Michael Jordan is among the most important figures in sports and culture, who forever redefined the modern athlete and entrepreneur,” said Jason Robins, DraftKings co-founder and CEO. “The strategic counsel and business acumen Michael brings to our board is invaluable, and I am excited to have him join our team.”

DraftKings did not disclose how much equity Jordan received. In exchange for his shares in the company, Jordan will act as a special adviser to DraftKings’ board of directors on key issues, including company strategy, product development and workplace inclusivity. He joins DraftKings, a leading provider of mobile sports betting, just months after the company went public.

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In 2015, Jordan joined fellow NBA owners Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and Ted Leonsis of the Washington Wizards in a $44 million funding round for Sportradar. The company, which distributes official league data for sports betting purposes, is also eyeing an entrance into public markets through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, according to Sportico.

The involvement of NBA owners in a betting deal was unthinkable before 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling and allowed states to decide whether to legalize the pastime on a case-by-case basis. The NBA has since announced multiple betting partnerships, including deals with DraftKings and Sportradar.

“NBA team investors, including governors, are permitted to involvement with sports betting and fantasy sports businesses, subject to safeguards required under league rules to prevent actual or perceived conflicts of interest,” an NBA spokesperson said in a statement on Jordan’s deal with DraftKings.

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Jordan has held a majority stake in the Hornets since 2010. He has a personal net worth of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Jordan was known to be an avid gambler during his storied career with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. The NBA legend addressed his penchant for wagers in ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” a documentary series that chronicled his career which premiered earlier this year.

"I never bet on games," Jordan said. "I only bet on myself, and that was golf. Do I like to play blackjack? Yeah, I like playing blackjack. There's no laws with that. The league did call me and asked questions about it. And I told them exactly what was happening."

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