Saquon Barkley Joins X2 Energy Drink’s $16 Million Series D Raise

Giants running back Saquon Barkley has joined Bucs linebacker Lavonte David and the NBA’s Kawhi Leonard as an investor in X2 Performance, the makers of non-carbonated energy drinks. Barkley’s investment comes as part of a $16 million Series D raise, led by previous investor L Catterton.

“I have been a big believer in X2’s line of clean products for a long time,” Barkley said in a statement. “I am very selective of brands I endorse and even more selective of companies I choose to invest in.”

Other individual investors include ESPN reporter Adam Schefter and action sports agent Lowell Taub.

“Having Saquon evolve from an avid user of our products to an investor and partner is invigorating for the brand and our retail partners,” X2 CEO Mark French said in a statement. “The scope of investors who have joined Saquon within this raise are of equal stature in their respective fields and only furthers our belief that we have merely scratched the surface of X2’s ability to fill a void in the energy drink and supplement markets.”

X2 has also added former Aramark CEO Eric Foss to its board, along with Sweetwater PE managing partner Gregg Parise. 

The company started in 2013 with a caffeine-based shot before introducing canned and powder offerings. It has been in pro locker rooms for nearly five years, counting more than 25 teams as customers, according to French, and the company currently has distribution deals with CVS, Subway and GNC. X2 said it will use the new funding to “aggressively expand” its distribution while developing new products.

Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley
refer to caption
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Barkley in 2019
No. 26 – New York Giants
Position: Running back
Personal information
Born: February 9, 1997 (age 24)
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 233 lb (106 kg)
Career information
High school: Whitehall (Whitehall, Pennsylvania)
College: Penn State
NFL Draft: 2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards

NFL record:

  • Most receptions by a rookie RB in a single season
Career NFL statistics as of 2020
Rushing attempts: 497
Rushing yards: 2,344
Rushing touchdowns: 17
Receptions: 149
Receiving yards: 1,219
Receiving touchdowns: 6
Player stats at · PFR

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Saquon Barkley (/ˈskwɒn/ SAY-kwon; born February 9, 1997) is an American football running back for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Penn State for three seasons.

He totaled 5,557 all-purpose yards in his three-year collegiate career. Barkley received national attention and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting with 304 total votes and third in Maxwell Award voting. He also received multiple national and Big Ten Conference awards and recognition. During Barkley’s three-year collegiate career, he broke and set numerous Penn State records including most rushing touchdowns in a career, most rushing yards by a freshman and sophomore as well as most total yards in a single game. Barkley was drafted with the second overall pick by the Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft.

As a rookie during the 2018 NFL season Barkley set numerous league and franchise records while on his way to a 1,300+ yard rushing season and a Pro Bowl nod. In 2018, Barkley set multiple league records, tying Randy Moss for most 50+ yard touchdowns from scrimmage in a season, along with recording the most receptions (91) by a rookie running back.[1][2] Barkley also set three franchise records for rookies: most rushing touchdowns (11), most rushing yards (1,307), and most total touchdowns (15). Barkley was also awarded AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and was named to the first team PFWA All-Rookie Team.

New York Yankees Top Sportico’s 2021 MLB Valuations at $6.75 Billion

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Major League Baseball has taken its lumps the past decade. An audience too old, a game too slow and a dearth of marketable stars have it doomed, shout the naysayers. Not to mention the crumbling regional sports network model and potential labor strife, which have added more fuel to the fire over the last 12 months, as the sport reeled from record-breaking financial losses in 2020 due the pandemic.

Add it all together and it’s recipe for disaster, right? Hardly. The average franchise is worth $2.2 billion, including MLB-related businesses like RSNs and stadium real estate, according to  Sportico’s calculations. The teams alone are worth $2 billion apiece. Savvy investors want in, and there are no COVID discounts.

Take, for example, hedge fund titan Steve Cohen. He bought the Mets last November for $2.42 billion, a tad more than six times its revenue (or seven times revenue if you net out the team’s annual $44 million PILOT payment, which services ballpark construction debt). RedBird Capital Partners, founded by longtime Goldman Sachs executive Gerry Cardinale, committed $750 million this month for an 11% stake in Fenway Sports Group, whose primary assets are the Boston Red Sox and NESN, the cable TV channel that airs most of their games, as well as English soccer team Liverpool F.C. (MLB has yet to approve the deal.)

The $7.3 billion valuation for FSG would likely be closer to $10 billion were it for a control stake in the sports conglomerate; non-control stakes of sports teams typically come at a discount ranging from 10-30%. Sportico conservatively values the Red Sox, including their 80% stake in NESN, Fenway Park real estate and marketing firm Fenway Sports Management, at $4.8 billion—a massive return for the John Henry-led ownership group that paid $700 million in 2002.

And the Sox aren’t done yet. The team and its development partners recently filed a proposal with the Boston Planning and Development Agency for a 2.1 million-square-foot project to build retail, residential and office space around Fenway Park. The Sox follow the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, who have all used their stadiums as tent poles for development—with more teams looking to develop these “Ballpark Villages,” revenue that wouldn’t be subject to sharing with other teams. Sportico includes the market value of the team-owned real estate in our valuation calculations.

The Red Sox—as has often been the case over their century-old, on-field rivalry—are looking up at only one team in the financial standings: the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers are worth $6.75 billion, including their 26% stake in YES and 20% share of sports operations business Legends. The valuation puts them ahead of every sports team on the planet, a tick above their Legends’ partners, the Dallas Cowboys, who were valued at $6.43 billion in Sportico’s 2020 NFL valuations.

The Yankees had net revenues of $746 million in 2019 after writing a $60 million revenue-sharing check but before their $80 million-plus PILOT payment. The team’s ticket and sponsor revenue are both tops in the sport, thanks to its storied history in the biggest U.S. market, and YES generated more than $400 million in cash flow during MLB’s last full season. “I think there is a better chance of the New York Yankees being here in 50 years than Apple being around in 50 years,” said one sports financing insider who traded candor for anonymity in comparing the Yanks to the tech behemoth worth $2 trillion.

MLB’s 30 teams—including ownership stakes in real estate, RSNs and additional team-related holdings—are valued collectively at $66 billion. The valuations were pieced together by interviews with more than two dozen sports bankers, media experts, economists and team executives.

The bullish sentiment in baseball is driven by a couple of emerging trends in the sports marketplace: gambling and streaming. Baseball’s languid pace might be a deterrent for some younger viewers, but it’s a plus for gamblers. As gaming regulations ease and betting technology gets incorporated into broadcasts, the natural breaks between pitches allow for constant in-game betting opportunities. For teams, what’s even more important than the dollars wagered is making the broadcasts “stickier” for viewers with action on the game.

Content is king right now, and no one has more content to deliver than Major League Baseball, with its 162-game season. National ratings have dwindled for the World Series and the All-Star Game, but hometown baseball games are typically the highest-rated primetime cable content in local markets and often the top-rated programming across all TV in the summer.

RSNs were built on the back of baseball, with its extended season and shoulder programming to support, but the current model is broken with 6 million cord cutters in each of the last two years slicing into network revenue and margins.

Federal regulators forced Disney to sell 22 RSNs as part of its $71 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox in 2019. YES Network commanded a premium price at $3.5 billion, but the other 21 RSNs were purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group for $10.6 billion, and the company announced a $4.2 billion write-down in November, largely tied to the purchase. “The bundle is not going away, but you have to fish where the fish are,” says media consultant Chris Bevilacqua of Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures.

Easier access to streamed content is key for these teams to open up games to audiences outside the home market. “This is a process that has been a decade in the offing and accelerated during the pandemic, but it needs to be addressed now,” says media rights expert Lee Berke. “Virtually every RSN has some form of authenticated streaming platform, but authentication is essentially streaming with training wheels.”

The Yankees are experimenting with 21 games this year on Amazon Prime Video, after the shortened 2020 season scuttled plans to do it then. The games will only be available to Prime members in the Yankees’ home market, but they will incorporate Amazon’s “X-Ray” technology that allows fans to access live in-game stats, player details and play-by-play information. Amazon owns a 15% stake in YES and is pushing increasingly into sports, including its recent deal to secure exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football.

The Los Angeles Dodgers join the Yankees and Red Sox in MLB’s top three at a $4.62 billion valuation, including its piece of the Spectrum SportsNet LA RSN; roughly 300 valuable acres around Dodger Stadium; and its venture arm, Elysian Park Ventures. Elysian has made more than 40 investments, with a focus on media, fan experience, sports performance and venue operations. The portfolio is worth an estimated $150 million, including DraftKings and, most recently, mixed-martial-arts entity Professional Fighter’s League.

Every MLB team faced crushing losses in 2020, as combined team revenue plummeted $7 billion, or 67%, to $3.4 billion with no fans allowed in the stands throughout the regular season. Teams lost all ticket, concession and parking revenue, while sponsor revenues tanked 50-60% for most teams and local media revenues sunk even more.

Everybody got hurt. Big market teams like the Yankees lost more than $300 million in stadium revenue, while small market teams that bank on revenue-sharing checks missed out on the annual subsidy with the sharing system suspended last year. The Yankees, Dodgers and Mets all had operating losses of more than $100 million in the sense of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, by Sportico’s count. The Yankees were hardest hit with a Ruthian loss of $175 million.

More limited partnerships of MLB franchises are up for sale than usual, as owners of 1% and 2% stakes in teams look to raise money after a tough year for many of their businesses outside of baseball. No control stakes of teams are actively being shopped, but potential buyers are circling the Baltimore Orioles, according to multiple sources. Peter Angelos, who has owned the team since 1993, has been in declining health. His son, John, was approved as the team’s control owner in November, and the team has been adamant it is not for sale.

But if the O’s were for sale, they would command a hefty premium, despite revenue that has sunk to fourth worst in the sport after a dreadful on-field run with only two finishes above third in the American League East over the past 23 seasons. The Washington-Baltimore metro area is dense with high-income individuals and large companies, while Camden Yards is still considered one of baseball’s crown jewel ballparks.

Sportico values the team and its 78% stake in MASN at $1.7 billion.

DraftKings’ New MLB Deal Includes Live Games Alongside Odds

DraftKings is expanding its relationship with Major League Baseball, signing a multi-year deal that will allow bettors to watch select games live in the DraftKings app.

The two sides are also planning to collaborate on future betting-themed broadcasts that will be integrated into Terms of the deal were not announced.

“In 2012, MLB helped ignite the daily fantasy industry by becoming our first-ever league partner,” DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish said in a statement. “That same foresight has persisted over the years as our organizations look to disrupt and innovate further through this expansion.”

As sports betting spreads across the U.S., leagues like MLB are seeking ways to further capitalize on the billions of dollars being wagered legally by Americans. Marketing partnerships like this are one way to do that. While DraftKings isn’t baseball’s only official sportsbook partner (BetMGM is another), MLB has found ways to offer some exclusive rights to individual partners.

Dodgers Owners Walter and Boehly Close on 27% Stake in the Lakers

Mark Walter and Todd Boehly now own 27% of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Walter and Boehly, co-owners of the L.A. Dodgers, closed on the purchase of the stake from billionaire Philip Anschutz on Friday. The sale of the minority stake, which values the Lakers at roughly $5 billion, was first reported by Sportico last month, and the NBA board of governors unanimously approved the deal.

As part of the deal, Boehly will join the Lakers’ board of directors to represent his and Walter’s interests. The Lakers are controlled by Jeanie Buss, whose late father Jerry bought the team in 1979. The stake includes the right of first refusal on any other Lakers shares that may come to market, putting Walter and Boehly in position to control the team should the Buss family ever decide to sell.

Anschutz, 81, is the founder of sports and entertainment conglomerate Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). His stake in the Lakers was a personal investment and separate from AEG’s other sports holdings, which include the Los Angeles Kings, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Staples Center, where the Lakers play.

Though Anschutz sold his stake in the team, AEG and the Lakers recently announced a 20-year extension that includes a significant capital investment for upgrades and improvements to Staples Center. The Lakers will remain in the arena through the 2041 season.

The Lakers ranked third in Sportico’s most recent NBA valuations, only trailing the New York Knicks ($5.42 billion) and the Golden State Warriors ($5.21 billion).