INVESTMENTS

How MLS Can Shape a Generation of Athlete Billionaires

James Harden, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and now Derrick Henry are among the slew of athletes who have bought into MLS teams.

Tennessee Titans superstar running back Derrick Henry bought into Nashville SC’s ownership group on Tuesday, continuing what can now be called a prominent trend of athletes owning North American soccer clubs.

If you’re a star athlete trying to build equity with a team on the ground floor, doing it in Major League Soccer, Liga MX, or the NWSL seems to be the best way to become the next billionaire athlete.

In just its third season, Nashville SC is valued at $460 million with a 30,000-seat stadium — the largest soccer-specific venue in the United States — opening on Sunday. In 2019, the Philadelphia Union was valued at $240 million, a year before Kevin Durant bought a reported 5% stake in the team with an option to purchase an additional 5%. Last year, the team was estimated to be worth $530 million — a significant ROI in a small amount of time.

It’s why we’ve seen a slew of active pro athletes investing in MLS, including:

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This mindset has extended into women’s soccer, with Mahomes’ wife Brittany Matthews joining the Kansas City Current’s ownership group, Harden joining the Houston Dash, Candace Parker, P.K. Subban, and Serena Williams buying into Angel City, Naomi Osaka purchasing a piece of the North Carolina Courage, and Alex Ovechkin buying into the Washington Spirit, among others.

The next frontier could be ownership in Mexico’s Liga MX. It gets better TV ratings than MLS, is growing in popularity in the U.S. and is ripe for new investment. The future model could be Club Necaxa, which got investment last year from European soccer star Mesut Ozil, Justin Verlander, Victor Oladipo, and more.

No matter which league current athletes choose, the smaller barrier to entry in North American soccer compared to the NFL, NBA or MLB is clearly appealing to some of sports’ biggest stars. And as franchise values grow at strong rates, soccer has emerged as an accessible way to build net worth and turn a small investment into something larger. That’s how you make inroads toward becoming the next billionaire athlete.

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