Digital sports platform Fanatics has acquired trading card brand Topps mere months after snagging the rights to produce Major League Baseball (MLB) trading cards, a partnership that Topps had owned since 1952. Prior to losing the rights for MLB to Fanatics, 70-year-old Topps had been planning to go public via SPAC.
Fanatics’ acquisition of Topps’ sports and entertainment division includes all parts of its worldwide trading cards and collectibles business — both the physical and digital divisions — which sells in more than 100 countries and has physical operations in 10 countries including the UK, Germany, Brazil, Italy and Japan.
“With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business,” said Michael Rubin, CEO of Fanatics in a statement. “Their iconic brand, commitment to product excellence and passionate employees worldwide will allow us to immediately serve our league and players’ association partners and our fans.”
Fanatics launched its Trading Cards division as a separate subsidiary in 2021 after securing exclusive, long-term trading cards rights from MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Fellow trading card company Panini also lost long-term partnerships in the reshuffle.
The addition of Topps — which still has rights with Major League Soccer, Formula 1, UEFA and Bundesliga — accelerates the build-up of the Fanatics Trading Cards business and jumpstarts Fanatics’ partnership with MLB and the MLBPA, which can now start immediately as opposed to the original start date of 2026 (when Topps’ contract was set to expire).
All of the approximately 350 global Topps sports and entertainment employees will become part of Fanatics Trading Cards. Current Global VP and General Manager David Leiner and VP of GM Topps Digital Tobin Lent will continue to run Topps within Fanatics Trading Cards, reporting directly to Doug Mack, Fanatics Inc. Vice Chairman and Fanatics Commerce CEO.