Legendary NBA player Michael Jordan was named a special adviser to DraftKings, an online sports wagering and entertainment company. Under the appointment, Jordan — currently owner of the Charlotte Hornets — will receive an undisclosed equity stake in DraftKings.
Jordan will provide “guidance and strategic advice” to DraftKings’ board of directors on on key business initiatives, including product development, inclusion, equity and belonging, and marketing activities, the company said.
“Michael Jordan is among the most important figures in sports and culture, who forever redefined the modern athlete and entrepreneur,” Jason Robins, DraftKings co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “The strategic counsel and business acumen Michael brings to our board is invaluable, and I am excited to have him join our team.”
DraftKings stock climbed more than 8% on the news. The Boston-based company went public in April.
Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships in the ’90s, with ESPN’s recent docu-series “The Last Dance” focusing on the team’s 1997-98 season. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and the NBA has called him “the greatest basketball player of all time.”
Jordan also has a decades-long predilection for gambling, which was touched on in an episode of “The Last Dance.” His gambling habit, which has included betting on golf, card games and in casinos, prompted an NBA probe in 1993 when he played for the Bulls; the investigation ultimately cleared Jordan of violating league rules.
An NBA rep, in a statement to Variety about Jordan’s new role as an adviser to DraftKings, said, “NBA team investors, including governors, are permitted to have involvement with sports betting and fantasy sports businesses, subject to safeguards required under league rules to prevent actual or perceived conflicts of interest.”
DraftKings is an authorized “gaming operator” for the NBA and MLB and an official betting operator of the PGA Tour.
DraftKings claims it is the only U.S.-based vertically integrated sports betting operator. The company powers sports and gaming entertainment for over 50 operators across more than 15 regulated U.S. and global markets, including Arkansas and Oregon.
For the second quarter of 2020, DraftKings reported revenue of $71 million, up 25% year over year, while its net loss ballooned to $161.4 million (versus $28 million in the year-earlier period), amid a dramatic slowdown in sporting events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. DraftKings said it had over $1.2 billion in cash and no debt on its balance sheet as of the end of June.