With DraftKings going public in April, shareholders of the company’s stock were disclosed. One of those? The Walt Disney Company.
Disney acquired more than 18.2 million shares – roughly 6% of DraftKings – through its 2019 acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which had originally invested $160 million into the sports betting company in 2015. That stake is currently worth more than $360 million, based on DraftKings stock closing at $20.12 on Friday.
In 2015, ESPN backed out of a deal to invest $250 million for a roughly 20% stake in DraftKings because Disney did not want to be involved in a gambling-adjacent industry, according to the New York Times. In a February 2019 Disney earnings call, then-Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger said, “I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way.”
Disney’s holdings in DraftKings does not necessarily mean that the company wants to do more in sports betting. Dustin Gouker, who oversees U.S. sports betting content for Cantena Media explained, “Given Disney’s opposition to gambling historically, it’s certainly interesting they still hold a piece of the company. It’s also a very small part of the Disney portfolio, in the grand scheme of things, even though it’s a sizable chunk of DraftKings.”