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Star Athletes and Celebrities Invest in UFC

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Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White. 2015 Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC

Earlier this year, it was announced that the William Morris Endeavor-International Management Group, better known as WME-IMG, purchased the mixed martial arts company UFC. The group purchased the popular fighting company in a $4 billion deal—the largest single financial transaction in sports history.

WME-IMG, based out of New York, is one of the industry’s preeminent sports and entertainment representation firms. Recently, the agency revealed the list of celebrities and sport icons that are a part of the investment group.

Some of the sport celebrities that stick out are: Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton. These are just a few of the heavy hitters that are with the agency. Sources told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that each person bought in a minimum investment of $250,000 to help secure the $4 billion acquisition deal.

Nearly 73 percent of UFC views are white men, while 11.4 percent are black, and 16.3 percent are Hispanic. It will be interesting to see if minority viewership increases with the involvement of superstar athletes such as Serena Williams and Cam Newton.

UFC president Dana White commented on the potential to expand viewership in a statement, “Expanding our ownership group to include this caliber of talent and entrepreneurs is a strong indicator of UFC’s fast-growing global presence. Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal.”

Founded in 1993, UFC is one of the largest and fastest growing sports brands in the world. It will be interesting to see if the company continues to expand and increase its viewership over the next few years.

References

Kelley D. Evans, The Undefeated, October 6, 2016

http://theundefeated.com/features/cam-newton-venus-and-serena-williams-tyler-perry-and-ll-cool-j-bring-black-star-power-to-ufc/

By Dr. Brandon Spradley

Dr. Spradley is the Director of Sports Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at bspradley@ussa.edu.

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