In fantasy sports, we pretend to “own” a roster of players to mimic the feeling of being a general manager, owner and coach all in one. It’s how non-athletes who love sports can live vicariously through their favorite players — not to mention make some money, if betting on your league is your thing (not that we are proponents of gambling, except where noted).
But fantasy football/baseball/NASCAR has nothing on what Fantex Holding wants to create: a marketplace where people can literally invest in, and own a piece of, their favorite athletes’ success.
Beginning today, Fantex will create stocks that are tied to the value and performance of an athlete’s brand, which includes the value of the contracts he signs, the endorsements he receives and how much he gets for showing up to somebody’s bar mitzvah. First up is Texans running back Arian Foster, who debuted with this video to show investors that he’s a solid dude who is good at football and voiceovers:
From the NYT:
As of Thursday, investors can register with the company, finance their accounts with cash and place orders for shares in the Foster I.P.O. The offering plans to sell about $10.5 million worth of stock, representing a 20 percent interest in Mr. Foster’s future brand income. Mr. Foster will pocket $10 million; the balance will cover the costs of the deal.
But if it proves successful, Mr. Foster’s tracking stock will then trade exclusively on an exchange operated by Fantex. Presumably, the tracking stock will increase in value if Mr. Foster raises his earnings potential with standout on-the-field performance or increased corporate sponsorships. Then, the investor can try to sell his shares at a higher price. Fantex will make a 1 percent commission from both the buyer and seller on the trades.
It’s a genius move for Foster, who makes $10 million at the jump for letting people essentially buy into the idea that he will achieve his dreams of being a huge success. Other names cited as examples in the articles include LeBron James and Roger Federer, at least one of whom we can see becoming a billion-dollar brand before his career is over.
Is it creepy that we are turning human beings into stock options that can be bought, sold, traded and evaluated? If the athletes themselves are okay with it — and, again, why wouldn’t they be? It’s a potentially endless revenue stream that is tied to their own goals and aspirations — then I guess we are too. But perhaps the singularity is approaching from another, unforeseen angle. We won’t be turning into robots, we’ll be turning ourselves into commodities, corporations, numbers on a till. But hey, money over everything, right?