NBA star Giannis buys stake in MLS’ Nashville
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nashville Predators forward Philip Forsberg are part of a new group of minority investors who have acquired a stake in Major League Soccer club Nashville SC.
Also in the group are the Antetokounmpo brothers: his Milwaukee teammate Tanasis; Kostas playing in Turkey; and G-League player Alex. Investment terms were not disclosed.
– Broadcasts on Sportzshala+: La Liga, Bundesliga and more (USA)
“Football is a global sport and our new owners reaffirm our club’s commitment to being a global team,” Chief Owner John Ingram said in a statement. “Filip and Giannis are not just outstanding athletes, they are representatives of their sport, role models for millions and defenders in their hometowns and around the world. We share a common belief that our teams not only play to the highest standards, but also strengthen their communities and help those who need it most.”
The addition of new investors continues the trend in MLS where top athletes have invested in league teams. Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns acquired a 5% stake in the Philadelphia Union in 2020 and James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers purchased a 5% stake in Houston Dynamo FC in 2019. Prior to this, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson acquired a stake in Seattle. Sounders FC.
As for Nashville SC, the addition of brothers Antetokounmpo and Forsberg, the all-time leading scorer in Predators history, adds to the team’s top-ranking investors, which already includes actress Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth, as well as Tennessee running back Derrick Henry.
“[Nashville] seems like a special place; there are so many prospects,” Thanasis Antetokounmpo told Sportzshala by Zoom call. “And we also had the same journey. Like, we were really fighting to be in the big leagues, to be there, to be recognized, and someone came along and gave us the opportunity. And at the same time, that we not only give football the opportunity to grow, but also [be known] also abroad.
“I want people all over the world to know about Nashville and see the football team. So it’s important for us. It is important”.
While the Antetokounmpo brothers make their living playing basketball — Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas were members of NBA title-winning teams, and Giannis was the NBA’s MVP in 2019 and 2020 — they also share a love of football.
“My father was a professional footballer and it was the first sport I fell in love with in Greece,” said Giannis. “It has always been my dream to own a football team. As my brothers and I explored Nashville, South Carolina, we knew this was the team and city we wanted to be in. The boys are in gold and we can’t wait to get to the match at GEODIS Park soon!”
The brothers’ father, Charles, played professionally in Nigeria and Germany. Their older brother Francis also played professionally in Greece. Charles died in 2017 and Thanasis said the investment was a way to honor their father.
“I know he will be so proud of us today that this is happening,” Thanasis said of his father. “This is not only an investment part. There is a part that is a legacy that for us, for future generations, we are part of it.”
Forsberg grew up a Liverpool fan in his native Sweden thanks to his father, Patrick. But it was his participation in some Nashville home games last year at the team’s brand new stadium, GEODIS Park, that convinced him and his wife Erin to invest.
“The stadium here in Nashville with the fans and the atmosphere was amazing,” Forsberg told Sportzshala by phone. “It was like the first acquaintance with the fact that this is real football, real football. And as soon as Nashville offered us some kind of partnership, that’s how it all began.
“We were really excited about it, me and my wife and here we are a few months later and it’s been a really cool trip so far. We’re just starting now.”
Nashville beat New York City 2-0 at home on the opening weekend and will travel to Harrison, NJ to face the New York Red Bulls on March 4.