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Fanatics expands its Nike sports merchandise deal to Japan’s most popular baseball team

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A woman browses a merchandise shop in Tokyo Dome ahead of the Japan Central League baseball match between Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima Carp on October 14, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
Carl Court | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Sports commerce platform Fanatics is expanding a recently signed long-term partnership with Nike to include manufacturing and distribution of merchandise for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most successful and popular baseball team.

In addition to exclusive merchandising rights, Fanatics will operate e-commerce and physical retail businesses for the Yomiuri Giants and plans to refurbish the retail stores at the Tokyo Dome ahead of the 2023 season. Nike will become the official uniform supplier of the Yomiuri Giants. Fanatics will make on-field uniforms and player performance items, as well as additional Nike-branded fan jerseys and apparel sold both online and at physical stores. Fanatics is also creating autograph and collectible products for fans of the Yomiuri Giants.

The Yomiuri Giants are the first sports team outside the U.S. to adopt this Nike-Fanatics model for on-field and sports merchandise. Fanatics, a major player in sports merchandising, has exclusive licensing deals with the NFL, NHL, MLB, as well as various colleges and universities. Several of those deals, including the NFL and MLB, also overlap with Nike jersey and apparel deals.

A partnership between Fanatics and Nike was struck earlier this year for manufacturing of U.S. college sports apparel by Fanatics, set to begin in 2024.

The three-time CNBC Disruptor 50 company has a private valuation of $27 billion.

Fanatics has evolved in recent years to include collectibles, sports betting and NFT businesses. The closely held company, founded by Michael Rubin, has also completed several acquisitions. In 2020, it acquired sports merchandise manufacturer WinCraft, and earlier this year it bought trading card company Topps for $500 million. Earlier this year, CNBC reported that Fanatics was in talks to buy sports betting company Tipico, though a deal hasn’t yet been reached.

Rubin recently divested from stakes in the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers due to the growth of business lines with potential conflicts of interest, including betting and licensing deals with individual athletes.

Fanatics has grown to more than 10,000 employees in 57 countries, serving nearly 100 million sports fans worldwide.

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