From David Beckham to Will Smith - we take a look at 10 athletes and celebrities who have contributed towards the growth of the esports industry
The esports industry has grown exponentially, bursting into the mainstream scene recently. Due to its significant growth in recent years, several athletes and celebrities are looking at competitive virtual games as a new investment project.
One of the main reasons is due to its attractiveness and profit potential, as although it has hit the mainstream sector, esports is still growing at a rapid rate. It is estimated that, by 2023, the industry's viewership will register a whopping 646 million and also be an estimated $1.5billion dollar industry.
So why wouldn't you want to get your hands on it? We'll take a look at 10 iconic athletes and celebrities that have invested in this fast growing industry.
10. Michael Jordan
The NBA legend and basketball Hall of Famer dived into the esports industry back in 2018. Michael Jordan is every traditional sports persons favourite basketball player of all time and he certainly must of gained a few more fans after pulling off a major $26million investment in startup called aXiomatic Gaming.
However, aXiomatic Gaming are no underdogs when it comes to esports tournaments as the company owns world renowned team - Team Liquid - which are worth over $200million, according to Forbes.
aXiomatic are also able to boast another NBA Legend in their investment team in Magic Johnson. If only we could of seen these two legends pair up on the court and not just through an esports investment.
Moving from one great in one sport to another. Ronaldo, in his prime, was a magnificent player and had millions of people purring at his skills. After retiring and taking a break from traditional sports, Ronaldo invested in CNB e-sports Club back in 2017. The footballing maverick bought out half of the esports club alongside two major poker influencers - Andre Akkari and Igor Trafane Federal.
8. David Beckham
Esports looks like its popular among footballing icons. Back in 2020, Guild Esports hit the headlines as they launched with David Beckham acting as co-owner. When the esports organisation announced this major news, as expected, the mainstream media had a field day and several investors were keeping a close eye on Guild Esports. All eyes were on Guild Esports - a common reaction when David Beckham is involved.
Our first celebrity away from sports on our list. World famous rapper Drake invested in not one but two esports teams. Drake's first venture in esports came about after his cameo in several Twitch streams - most notably with Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins in Fortnite. This led the Canadian born rapper to gain co-ownership of popular esports team '100 Thieves', an organisation founded by retired Call of Duty player Matt "Nadeshot" Haag. His interest in esports did not stop here as he also decided to invest in 'Players' Lounge' - a startup that allows players to match up against eachother depending on their skill and play for money.
6. Will Smith
From sports to music and now Hollywood. Will Smith led an investment group, also including football star Keisuke Honda, that completed a $46million investment in Gen.G, a world renowned global organisation.
Gen.G also have two-time NBA Champion, Chris Bosh, supporting their company efforts.
5. Mike Tyson
Even one of, if not, the toughest athletes in the world supports the esports industry. Back in 2019, Iron Mike strategically invested in Fade 2 Karma, a professional esports team. To celebrate this partnership Mike Tyson actually took part in a Hearthstone game with the Fade 2 Karma team. His interest reportedly started through his son and tasked his investment team to find the perfect fit. Fade 2 Karma were the lucky winners.
4. Steph Curry
Chef Curry is not only making an impact on the court with his deep 3s but he's also making his mark on esports. Steph Curry led an investment group that provided $37million towards TSM. The investment group also involved his former Warriors teammate Andre Igoudala and ex 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
3. Shaquille O'Neal
Imagine a team consisting of Shaq, Marshawn Lynch, Jennifer Lopez and Tiesto. Quite a strange mix right? Fortunately these are the types of partnerships we can see in the esports industry and they'll seem completely fine. These stars are all involved with the American professional esports organisation called NRG Esports. The organisation has a wide variety of rosters spanning games such as Apex Legends, CoD, Fortnite, Hearthstone and Overwatch, among others.
2. Kevin Durant
Esports seems to be a popular venture for NBA stars of the past and present. The two time NBA Champion also joins ex teammate, Steph Curry, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal in investing in an esports organisation. The NBA star and future Hall of Famer has claimed a stake in Vision Esports. Vision Esports is also the biggest shareholder in Echo Fox esports team which has more than 40 players in its roster, competing in over 12 leagues. Through Kevin Durant's backing, Vision Esports was able to raise $38million with NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. also being part of the investment team.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Who other than to claim number one spot but the self-proclaimed God himself - Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The list is not a specifically ranked list but it only seemed fitting to put Zlatan as number one. Ibrahimovic invested into an esports tournament platform called Challengermode. The Swedish esports platform received around $12million from investment groups led by Zlatan and also Alibaba. The aim of Challengermode is to help brands and creators to engage their target audiences as well as gain monetisation through the platform.
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