Home Venture Capital 13 Top Funders of Women’s Sports, From Marc Lasry to the Monarch...

13 Top Funders of Women’s Sports, From Marc Lasry to the Monarch Collective

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In late March, hip-hop legend Ice Cube took to social media platform X to confirm a story that had been making the rounds about his Big3 men’s basketball league. Linking to a TMZ story about a “blockbuster $5 million offer” Big3 made to University of Iowa basketball player Caitlin Clark, the 54-year-old businessman wrote: “Why wouldn’t we? Caitlin is a generational athlete who can achieve tremendous success in the BIG3.”

Ice Cube’s offer, for just 8 regular season games plus two potential playoff games, reflects a huge increase over the average salary paid to pro women basketball players of about $147,745 a year. It comes at a time when women’s sports generally — from basketball to soccer and even volleyball — are attracting new viewers.

Clark’s sharpshooting skills (she’s the NCAA’s highest scoring player ever, women or men) drew celebrities like “Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis and rapper Travis Scott to Iowa Hawkeyes games. Last week’s college women’s basketball championship game between the Hawkeyes and the South Carolina Gamecocks, meanwhile, snagged more viewers than any basketball — women or men, college or pro — since 2019, ESPN said.

It’s not just women’s college ball that’s luring eyeballs. Attendance at US women’s pro soccer games increased by 23% in 2023, according to National World Soccer League commissioner Jessica Berman. A 2021 YouGov survey found that 44% of sports fans aged 18 to 24 said they preferred watching women’s sports, compared to just 16% of sports followers aged 55 and up. And a Nebraska volleyball tournament last summer reportedly smashed the world record for attendance to a women’s sporting event, drawing 92,000 fans.

More fans translates to more money for players, as Clark’s $5 million offer shows. But it also means bigger potential earnings for an array of savvy financial backers. Consulting firm Deloitte, predicts that women’s sports, including soccer, basketball, tennis, and golf, will break $1 billion in revenue this year for the first time ever — a 300% increase over 2021. And that’s just the start, according to hedge fund mogul Marc Larsry, who recently declared women’s sports the next “big opportunity” for sports investing.

So, who’s poised to benefit from this apparent surge? Lasry has launched a fund to invest in women’s sports, but so have others. There are a number of private-equity firms making deals to invest in women’s sports, venture capitalists spending money on the sector, and entrepreneurs launching new women’s sports businesses.

See Business Insider’s list of investors from Wall Street to Silicon Valley looking to spend big to win from surging interest in women’s sports.

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