Billionaire is helping athletes profit from their own brand
Licensing for video games, trading cards among group’s plans
Billionaire Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Foundation and investment firm Prysm Capital led a $26 million investment in a new organization designed to help professional tennis players pursue business opportunities off the court.
Winners Alliance, a for-profit affiliate of the Professional Tennis Players Association, appointed Ackman as chairman of the board. Among its first initiatives, the organization plans to set up a licensing program for players to get paid for their likeness being used in video games, trading cards and related areas.
The board also includes Christina Francis, president of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Prysm Capital co-founders Jay Park and Muhammad Mian, and Ahmad Nassar, who formerly led athlete agency OneTeam Partners and NFL Players Inc. Nassar, who was named executive director of PTPA and CEO of Winners Alliance, also participated in the fundraising.
For tennis players who have reached the pinnacle of the sport such as Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducanu, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, prize money is steadily supplemented by lucrative partnerships with brands like Sweetgreen, Tiffany & Co., Richard Mille and Mercedes-Benz. But for hundreds of other lesser-known contenders, injuries or winless spells can make the professional tour financially challenging.
“With the launch and funding of Winners Alliance, we are now well resourced to make a material difference in players’ lives,” said Vasek Pospisil, who co-founded the PTPA with 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
“I have had a lifelong passion for tennis, both as a player and a fan, but have long recognized the challenges that most professional tennis players experience due to the sport’s inferior economics for all but the very top of the rankings ladder,” Ackman said in an emailed statement.