Tom Brady isn’t just building his brand. He’s building an empire.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion announced the end of his 22-year NFL tenure on Tuesday, leaving the game as one of the most decorated professional athletes ever. Now, he enters a new arena.
Welcome to the business of being Tom Brady.
He’s earned around $292 million on the field and $160 million from sponsorships over the course of his career, but many believe that he’s yet to scratch the surface of his potential. From NFTs and apparel to NIL and human performance, Brady has entered a vast array of markets at a torrid pace.
Brady’s transition from All-Pro quarterback to business mogul speaks to a larger shift in the ways athletes look to monetize their names, images, and likenesses.
As more athletes adopt equity ownership models for their various endeavors, Brady remains a force onto his own.
Brady’s A Business, Man
One of Brady’s first major endorsements was signing with Under Armour in 2010. In addition to the Under Armour sponsorship, he’s inked deals with Upper Deck, Fanatics, Molecule Mattress, IWC, Christopher Cloos, Aston Martin, UGG, and FTX.
These endorsements have helped make him wealthy, but there’s no ownership component.
That really started to change close to a decade ago, and Brady’s been launching his own businesses ever since.
- TB12: Performance lifestyle brand co-founded in 2013 with longtime body coach Alex Guerrero
- Autograph: NFT platform focused on iconic athletes
- 199 Productions: Global media company that develops original premium content
- Brady: A “next-generation” apparel company
Each of these businesses presents a unique opportunity. Could they collectively amass over $1 billion for Brady? The answer is a resounding “probably.” Let’s take a look at each market independently.
TB12 began as a nutritional supplement company and has evolved into a performance lifestyle company and a holistic approach to health and wellness that offers coaching, nutrition, apparel, and exercise equipment. It has a licensing deal with IMG that will help bolster the company’s e-commerce presence.
Just how big is the “high-performance” market they’re trying to capture? According to Fitt Insider, it’s quite lucrative.
- In the coming years, the global wearable technology market will exceed $60 billion.
- The global sports medicine market, including athletic recovery, will surpass $9 billion by 2024.
- By 2027, the global alternative medicine market — think yoga, acupuncture, and meditation — will reach $296 billion.
If TB12 can capture even a sliver of this market, the outcome would be huge.
Banking on NFTs
Autograph is likely Brady’s most talked about business endeavor, at least in recent months. The NFT platform recently raised $170 million at a rumored $3.2 billion valuation.
NFTs are a hot space right now, perhaps the hottest. For example, NFT marketplace OpenSea saw total NFT trading volume of $5 billion for the month of January, up from $8 million during the same period in 2021.
Dapper Labs, the creator of NBA Top Shot, has partnered with several leagues and players associations to use IP for their NFT products. Autograph is slightly different in its approach, partnering directly with athletes.
By partnering with superstars like Wayne Gretzky, Naomi Osaka, Tony Hawk, Simone Biles, and Tiger Woods, among others, the marketing costs to get the business up and running are significantly reduced relative to their competitors.
Brady might have an absolute gold mine on his hands.
The Production Company
Production studios are only as good as the content they produce and 199 Productions is still working to prove itself. But other celebrities who’ve seen major success with their media businesses have set a positive precedent.
- Lebron James’ SpringHill raised money from RedBird Capital, Epic Games, and Nike at a $725 million valuation in October 2021.
- Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine sold for $900 million to a media company backed by Blackstone in August 2021.
199 Productions needs a slew of massive hits under its belt to be seen as a true winner, but if anybody knows how to win, it’s Brady.
Athleisure & Apparel
Finally, there’s Brady — the brand. Ever the astute entrepreneur, Tom realized that owning his own apparel brand is where the real upside lies, as opposed to being a spokesperson for Under Armour.
Brady partnered with former DKNY creative director and founder of Public School Dao-Yi Chow and the co-founder of Skims, Jens Grede, to build his new brand.
With the venture, Brady is taking on yet another sizable market that is growing rapidly. According to our research at FOS Insights, the athleisure market is anticipated to reach $549 billion by 2028.
But the competitive landscape is crowded. From Nike and Lululemon to more niche brands like Rhone and Athleta, the market is saturated.
Having partnered with Grede, Brady is working with an individual who scaled a pseudo-athleisure brand from nothing to $1.6 billion. Brady has indicated that he’s all-in on building this brand, and his partners give him a notable advantage.
From Income to Equity
Building wealth as an athlete used to be all about maximizing income. Starting now, and especially in the future, it’s a matter of who can secure the most equity.
Big playing contracts won’t become any less prominent, but sometimes, because of mechanisms like salary caps, it’s difficult for athletes to earn their true market value.
Ownership is the answer to this, and Tom Brady is at the forefront of the movement.