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Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin is selling his 10 percent stake in the company that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils to pursue new business endeavors which would otherwise conflict with owning a professional sports team, Rubin said in a statement Wednesday.
"As our Fanatics business has grown, so too have the obstacles I have to navigate to ensure our new businesses don't conflict with my responsibilities as part-owner of the Sixers," Rubin said in a statement. "With the launch of our trading cards and collectibles business earlier this year – which will have individual contracts with thousands of athletes globally – a a soon-to-launch sports betting operation, these new businesses will directly conflict with the ownership rules of sports leagues."
The 49-year-old Rubin was a part of the ownership group led by Joshua Harris and David Blitzer that bought the 76ers in 2011 for $280 million. The group later bought the Devils in 2013 for $320 million. Harris and Blitzer then formed the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment company in 2017 to serve as the parent company for its various properties.
Rubin, who has a net worth of $8 billion, according to Forbes, told Fox Sports' Yaron Weitzman he'd started planing to sell his share in the company for the past 18 months. During that time, Fanatics grew to a valuation of $18 billion by September 2021 — 10 years after Rubin acquired the online retailer of licensed sports apparel, equipment and other merchandise in 2011.
Fanatics has agreements with multiple professional sports leagues for its licensed merchandise, but the foray into sports betting and individual partnerships with athletes could conflict with collective bargaining rules.
"Fanatics just got to a size where it became no longer possible for me to run it and officially be part of the Sixers," Rubin told Weitzman. "No one came to me and said, ‘Hey, Michael, you need to sell.’ It was clear based on these businesses [that] we have no choice but to sell."
Rubin, who reportedly tried to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018, has "no interest" in buying another team in the future, according to Weitzman.
Rubin's connection to NBA and Sixers
Rubin grew up watching the Sixers in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania — only 14 miles outside of Philadelphia. He eventually came to know former NBA commissioner David Stern when he convinced Stern to agree to a deal between the NBA and Rubin's old company, Global Sports Incorporated, per Weitzman.
Rubin also has personal relationships with members of the 76ers, including Joel Embiid and James Harden, the latter of which prompted reports of a possible tampering investigation after Philadelphia acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets last season. The NBA never looked into the claims, though.
"When you are lucky enough to be part of an ownership group that buys a sports franchise, you have one primary responsibility to your city – to win championships," Rubin said in his statement. "Just like all of you, I'm obviously disappointed that we haven't yet accomplished that. However, I believe the team is very well positioned with a world-class ownership group, led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, a dynamic front office and coaching staff, and an unbelievable group of all-star players who are more committed than ever to bringing a title to the city of Philadelphia."