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Nike, Condoleezza Rice among new WNBA investors


Nike and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are among a high-profile list of new WNBA investors, as the basketball league looks to raise capital for its “long-term business transformation.”

The league announced on Thursday that it raised the largest-ever round of funding for a women’s sports property, which will go towards “a multi-faceted financial growth strategy designed to generate new revenue through increased investment in priority areas as part of the league’s long-term business transformation.”

The money will likely be used for brand elevation, marketing, globalization of the league, human and operational optimization and innovation, and digital and growth of consumer engagement.

The efforts are “part of an overall effort to address some of the league’s obstacles to growth and generating new revenue,” according to a statement from the league.

The league, however, did not disclose how much money it raked in.

Nike was named the inaugural WNBA Changemaker. The league said the company “made a significant equity investment in the WNBA,” and said the funding from the organization “further deepens the company’s support for women’s basketball and enables the WNBA to elevate the marketing and storytelling of WNBA athletes.”

In addition to Nike and Rice, Michael and Susan Dell of Dell Technologies, Micky and Nick Arison of Carnival Corporation and Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, invested in the league, among others.

“We are incredibly fortunate to be able to capitalize on the current momentum around women’s sports and are grateful to the investors who have chosen to support the WNBA in an unprecedented way and to our team governors who continue to invest in the players and teams,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

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“Our strategy is to deploy this capital to continue to drive the league’s brand as a bold, progressive entertainment and media property that embodies diversity, promotes equity, advocates for social justice, and stands for the power of women,” she added.

The WNBA saw an increase in TV viewership on ESPN and ABC in its 25th season, according to ESPN. The number of regular-season viewers jumped by 49 percent compared to 2020 and 24 percent compared to 2019.

Tags Condoleeza Rice Nike WNBA women's basketball

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