Athlete-Backed SPACs Take Losses

    • Athlete-backed SPACs took losses in 2021.
    • Companies backed by Shaquille O'Neal and Serena Williams have fallen post-mergers.

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Athlete-backed SPACs had a poor year, as many took losses after their mergers. 

A Bloomberg analysis found that 21 out of 33 celebrity-backed SPACs posted negative returns on the year. While that’s a poor batting average with major indices up 18% to 28% since Jan. 4, these companies have still performed better than the rest of the SPAC category. 

SPACs specifically boosted by athletes generally underwhelmed, too.

  • Beachbody, backed by Shaquille O’Neal, is down over 77% since going public in January.
  • Metal 3D-printing company Velo3D has fallen nearly 32% since its January merger with a Serena Williams-backed SPAC.
  • Others, such as those launched in part by Kevin Durant, Alex Rodriguez, and Colin Kaepernick, have yet to merge with another company and have shown little stock price movement.

SPACs Still Booming

SPAC merger deals totaled $370.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2021, more than double the $139.4 billion in deals in all of 2020.

Irwin Kishner, co-chair of the Sports Law Group at Herrick, Feinstein LLP, told Front Office Sports that “it makes entire sense” for more sports-related companies to strike deals with unpaired SPACs.

“There are a number of sports industry properties that could do well by accessing publicly traded currency.”

Concessions, sports media, esports, virtual reality, other sports technologies, and esports are areas he says are ripe for SPAC deals, adding that “doing a SPAC from a legal vantage is much easier than doing an IPO.”