Sports Stars Recruiting Attorneys to Advise Their Startups

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NFL quarterback Tom Brady and world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. have hired lawyers to advise their startups. Each is separately entering into fitness, media, and collectibles, reports Bloomberg Law.

Seven-time Super Bowl winner Brady supports Religion of Sports and Autograph. They have hired legal chiefs in Benjamin Mauceri and Jonathan Gottlieb, respectively. Mayweather Boxing + Fitness Inc. hired DLA Piper of counsel Sarah Bush in Dallas to be general counsel. The Los Angeles-based startup is a group exercise company created by 15-time world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Pro Athletes Creating Legal Work

These hires are the latest examples of professional athletes who create legal work by cashing in on their successes. Brady and Mayweather are among the most famous sports stars. Each has been listed by   Forbes as the world’s wealthiest athletes.

Sports Stars Boxing
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In an email, Bush told Bloomberg Law  she’s the first-ever legal chief for Mayweather Boxing + Fitness. This startup is a separate company from Mayweather Promotions LLC, the boxer’s Las Vegas-based promotions vehicle. She noted that the company was a client of hers and DLA Piper when she was at the law firm. Bush joined DLA Piper in 2018 after practicing at Foley & Lardner and Winstead.

“I am loving it thus far,” Bush said of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, which recently opened a franchise in the Dallas suburb of Highland Park. “The corporate culture James Williams has created is amazing and the remote option has allowed us to get great talent,” she said. Williams is the company’s CEO. Bush remains based in Texas.

Mayweather has mostly retired from professional boxing. But he made news in June with an exhibition match involving former YouTube star Logan Paul. The bout, brokered by entertainment lawyers, was a Pay-Per-View success.

The “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2010s has an ownership interest in the fitness company that bears his name.

Attorney Joins Brady’s Religion of Sports from Red Bull

Benjamin Mauceri joined Religion of Sports, a Brady-backed sports media company, in July as its GC and head of business affairs. He’s a former director of legal affairs at energy drink company Red Bull North America Inc. and legal counsel for NBCUniversal LLC and Comedy Central. Benjamin spent the past six months as a principal at media and marketing firm Westridge Consulting.

Deadline Hollywood, a trade publication that broke the news of Mauceri’s new job, noted that Religion of Sports has a number of other investors that include former NFL star Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, who’s the son of author Deepak Chopra.

Mauceri will lead legal and business affairs for the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company. Religion of Sports produces athletic content with an inspirational theme. One project is “Man in the Arena,” a docuseries starring Brady that will stream on ESPN in the fall.

Autograph Hires 21st Century Fox Lawyer

Autograph is a non-fungible token (NFT) company that Brady also backs. They hired Jonathan Gottlieb last spring as its new general counsel. Last month, Autograph negotiated deals with DraftKings Inc. and Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. to build a marketplace for digital collectibles and create new NFTs based on the film studio’s catalogue.

Gottlieb’s position at Autograph hasn’t yet been publicly disclosed. However, he’s the latest lawyer to find an in-house job in the increasingly popular NFT space that is regulated by a variety of laws related to patent issues and artists’ intellectual property rights. Autograph’s online leadership page lists Gottlieb as its general counsel. It also says Brady’s role is co-founder, co-chairman of the board, and “NFL legend.”

Gottlieb is a former group head of legal affairs at Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. The company sold its entertainment assets for $71 billion to The Walt Disney Co in 2019.

Brady Likes Sports-Related Startups

The quarterback for the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady is no stranger to the startup world. His TB12 nutrition program partnered a few years ago with the Purple Carrot Bread Co. LLC to launch its product line.

TB12 received coronavirus pandemic economic rescue funds in the amount of $960,855 from the federal government, according to data released by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Massachusetts-based company got the loan in April 2020, as part of the small business lending program created under the $2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress and the Trump administration in March. The loan was processed by Cambridge Savings Bank.

It’s not known how TB12 was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and how many jobs it retained with the loan.

The Sports Business Journal reported that more than 500 sports-related companies received funds of $150,000 or more from the SBA program.