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Pro Athletes Eye Agriculture Investment Opportunities

Professional athletes like Lebron James have been as successful on the court as off it. James has invested heavily in movie deals and TV shows and even became a partial shareholder of Liverpool Football Club in England. Other elite players are investing in different industries. Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow and Boston Celtics forward Blake Griffin are putting money into farms across the country. 

Burrow and Griffin are two of 20 pro athletes purchasing a 104-acre farm in Iowa. Investing $5 million, the farm will grow soy and corn.

The venture is being funded by an athlete investment firm called Patricof Co. Patricof is unique because it works with athletes to find investment opportunities outside of sports and entertainment.

The firm has advised players to invest in companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Voyages, Cholula, Kodiak, etc. 

Photo courtesy NFL

How will this farming venture work? The land will be leased to farmers for crop cultivation. Investors will get a single-digit percentage return on profits. If successful, four more farms will be purchased. This will expand the annual dividends. 

According to Patricof, now is the time to invest in agricultural operations. Farmland has yielded outstanding returns in recent years, around 12.3% in the past 20 years. Most farms in America are independently owned, while only 3% are owned by institutional investors.

They are viewed as a good investment as the sector has low volatility

“I think of it as a really smart recession hedge for people who are learning to invest for the long term,” CEO Mark Patricof commented. “It provides really significant downside protection and the opportunity to create a long-term investment strategy that fits the profile of somebody who’s young and can continue to make a lot of money and wants to be conservative with their investment strategy.” 

Farms aren’t the only ventures these athletes are investing in. They’ve also zeroed in on plant-based food companies and alternative sports leagues.

Griffin has invested in Daily Harvest, a startup that ships ready-to-serve plant-based food to customers. It’s a sustainable investment that Griffin sees as an opportunity to fund regenerative farming. His goal is to assist in creating a more sustainable food system. 

Photo courtesy Zinn Beck

“The company’s commitment to a better food system prioritizing human and planet health resonated with me. And from a business perspective, I love that it’s meeting consumers’ growing demand for delicious food that’s nourishing, convenient, and sustainable,” Griffin said on his Daily Harvest investment.

Burrow, on the other hand, has commitments in the alternative sports world. The Bengals QB and his parents are some of the newest investors of the Pro Volleyball Federation. This women’s volleyball league begins operations in February 2024. They are joined by former Baltimore Ravens QB Trent Dilfer and the DeVos family, owners of the Orlando Magic of the NBA. It’s all about supporting other leagues and giving people an equal chance to succeed in all sports. “No one ever achieves greatness without first being provided an opportunity. Pro Volleyball Federation is opening the door, and we are excited to see these athletes chase their dreams and goals,” Burrow said.

Photo courtesy Vince Fleming

The NFL star is also an investor in the clothing company Bombas. Bombas donates an item of clothing to homeless shelters for every garment purchased. These investments signal how athletes are funding companies doing good work. Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill is also a Bombas investor. “Having the charitable aspect to it, combined with just being a well-run company that’s doing really well, made it a no-brainer for me to hop in,” Tannehill said.

Investing in farms, alternative sports leagues, and companies that do good is setting an example of the power athletes have to uplift others. This Iowa farm may make Burrow and Griffin money, but it will boost the livelihoods of farmers, and that’s more important. 


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