Thursday December 7, 2023

Emanuel: Endeavor Neared $1B Investment In LIV Golf

  • Owner of UFC, PBR, multiple agencies approached by DeChambeau, Mickelson
  • Proposed financial backing scuttled largely at the behest of the PGA Tour
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Sports and entertainment giant Endeavor — the parent company of UFC, Professional Bull Riders, and the IMG and WME agencies — strongly considered a $1 billion investment in LIV Golf before backing away, according to company chief executive Ari Emanuel.

Speaking on Freakonomics Radio, Emanuel said Endeavor was approached by LIV Golf stars Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson about funding the upstart golf property, and the company began internal discussions for a $1 billion investment. Endeavor’s support would have replaced LIV Golf’s backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which started in 2021.

Emanuel claimed Endeavor scuttled the proposed deal, largely at the behest of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, whose organization is currently embroiled in competitive and legal disputes with LIV Golf.

“We’re all connected in golf,” Emanuel said. “And [the PGA Tour] said, ‘Please don’t do it.’ So we stopped. I’m friends with Jay. We have a lot of business with Jay. I don’t want to hurt Jay.”

Emanuel warned Monahan that he would need to respond to the LIV Golf challenge, which the PGA Tour has done through increased tournament purses and schedule adjustments.

“I said to Jay, ‘We’re pulling out. But you have got to figure out an economic solution here because … it’s going to force you.’ And he did,” Emanuel said. “To his credit, I think Jay did an incredible job.”

Emanuel added that he has no moral position on LIV Golf’s backing from Saudi Arabia, a country widely rebuked for its history of human rights abuses.

LIV Golf declined to comment to Front Office Sports.

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