LeBron James and Drake Make a Big Bet on the PGA Tour

LeBron James, the basketball star, and the rapper Drake are investing in the PGA Tour, and have ideas on how to broaden its audience.Credit…Vaughn Ridley/NBAE, via Getty Images

Golf’s new power players

Just over a month ago, a group of financiers and sports team owners, led by Fenway Sports Group, said it would invest up to $3 billion in the PGA Tour, a watershed deal that gave players equity in the league as it fends off competition from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

What wasn’t reported then was that several powerful people in sports, music and entertainment had also invested personally. Two names are likely to draw attention: LeBron James, the superstar basketball player, and Drake, the rapper.

The investors are bringing more than money. F.S.G. and fellow backers, including the billionaires Steve Cohen, Arthur Blank and Marc Lasry, believe they can help reinvigorate the sport, particularly as the value of media rights soars. James and Drake are committing additional capital as “strategic investors,” and are expected to use their marketing power to help the tour broaden its audience. James and the PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan, were at the home of Tom Werner, F.S.G.’s chairman, recently discussing just that, DealBook hears.

Fans may see the stars around the greens, perhaps in the same way Drake is a frequent courtside presence at Toronto Raptors games. “Golf can be so much more than a sport. I remember some of my best childhood memories was being on the golf course with my uncle,” Drake said in a statement to DealBook. “It’s one thing to invest in a team, but to help reimagine one of the biggest leagues in the world is an incredible opportunity and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

James and Drake aren’t new to sports investing. In 2021, James took a stake in F.S.G. — he’s actually named in the small print as an F.S.G. investor in a news release announcing the $3 billion deal — which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. James’s investment is separate from F.S.G.’s involvement.

In 2022, James and Drake also invested in A.C. Milan, the Italian soccer club, alongside RedBird Capital Partners and the owners of the New York Yankees.

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