Fanatics Partners With Make-a-Wish Foundation, Tom Brady and Michael Rubin Attend Launch

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Fanatics, the U.S. sports merchandise giant and sports betting operator, has partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to become its first official sports partner.

Make-a-Wish is a famous charity that provides children having terminal or severe illnesses with unique, tailored experiences called “Wishes.”

The new partnership will see Fanatics handle sports-related wishes in the U.S., providing sick children with the opportunity to meet their sports heroes and attend major sporting events.

Fanatics said its roster of stars it has contracts with numbers in the hundreds. Celebrity athletes that have relationships with the brand and its well-connected founder, Michael Rubin, include NFL legend Tom Brady, New York Yankees captain Aaron Judge, and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

The partnership kicked off at a charity event in New York City this week. Multiple children got to meet and spend time with the three sports superstars.  

Fanatics will also be donating $10 million to the charity, and company executive Orlando Ashford will be joining the Make-a-Wish board.

The Power of Sports

Through this partnership, Fanatics will support life-changing wishes around athlete meet-and-greets, Championship games, All-Star Weekends, Rookie Drafts, and the world’s premier sporting events.

“Fanatics has been championing Make-A-Wish and its incredible efforts for many years, and this partnership will be an ongoing testament to the power of sports and the possibilities for children to heal through connections to their favorite teams and sports heroes,” Ashford said in a company press release.

In addition to supporting wish granting and its $10 million donation, Fanatics will also provide Make-A-Wish with additional resources, including merchandise and production costs for external storytelling efforts.

“Our partnership with Fanatics will help us create transformative experiences that will leave a lasting, positive impact long after the wish, often marking a turning point in a child’s treatment and recovery,” said Leslie Motter, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America.

Fanatics’ Push into Sports Betting

Fanatics is one of the biggest sports merchandise companies in the world, and throughout 2023 it has been aiming to capitalize on that massive popularity with its new U.S. sports betting business.

Fanatics launched its Massachusetts online sports betting in beta form six months ago. Since then, it has acquired the U.S. operations of Australian operator PointsBet for $225 million, and expanded into full launches in seven states.

However, the relationship between its merch business and its online betting arm has been controversial with some. Early in 2023, regulators for Ohio online sports betting were less than pleased with Fanatics’ initial attempts to offer free bets with merch purchases. So, for now at least, it has been limited to offering free merch with bets instead.

It is extremely unlikely that any deliberate connections will be made between the sports betting (and potentially an online casino) side of the Fanatics and its new deal with Make-a-Wish.

But the goodwill and publicity it creates will no doubt have an impact on brand awareness as a whole.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to leverage our relationships to bring the magic of once-in-a-lifetime sports experiences to young people who need it most,” Ashford said. “This partnership also creates a great opportunity for our employees to give back in a meaningful way at events and experiences throughout the year.”

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