Fanatics, Nike Makes Global Sports Merchandise Model Deal With Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s Most Popular Baseball Team

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A woman browses a Tokyo Dome merchandise store ahead of the Japan Central League baseball game between Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima Carp on October 14, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Karel Hof | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Sports trading platform Fanatics is expanding a recently signed long-term partnership with Nike to include manufacturing and distribution of merchandise for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most successful and popular baseball team.

In addition to the exclusive merchandising rights, Fanatics will operate e-commerce and physical stores for the Yomiuri Giants and plan to renovate the Tokyo Dome stores ahead of the 2023 season. Nike becomes the official uniform supplier of the Yomiuri Giants. Fanatics will create on-field uniforms and performance items for players, as well as additional Nike fan jerseys and apparel for sale both online and in physical stores. Fanatics also makes autographs and collectibles for fans of the Yomiuri Giants.

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The Yomiuri Giants are the first sports team outside of the US to adopt this Nike-Fanatics model for on-field and sporting goods. Fanatics, a major player in sports merchandising, has exclusive licensing agreements with the NFL, NHL, MLB and several colleges and universities. Several of those deals, including the NFL and MLB, also overlap with Nike jersey and apparel deals.

A partnership between Fanatics and Nike was signed earlier this year for Fanatics to produce U.S. college sportswear, which will begin production in 2024.

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The three-time TBEN Disruptor 50 company has a private valuation of $27 billion.

Fanatics has evolved in recent years to include collectibles, sports betting and NFT businesses. The close-knit company, founded by Michael Rubin, has also made several acquisitions. In 2020, sporting goods manufacturer WinCraft acquired and earlier this year bought trading card company Topps for $500 million. Earlier this year, TBEN reported that Fanatics was in talks to acquire sports betting company Tipico, though no deal has yet been reached.

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Rubin recently divested his interests in the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers due to the growth of business lines with potential conflicts of interest, including betting and licensing deals with individual athletes.

Fanatics has grown to more than 10,000 employees in 57 countries and serves nearly 100 million sports fans worldwide.

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