NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo lands ownership stake in sports drink start-up Ready Nutrition

Key Points
  • Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is the newest investor in Ready Nutrition.
  • As part of the transaction, Antetokounmpo will also receive an ownership stake in the company.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks
Gregory Shamus | Getty Images

National Basketball Association star Giannis Antetokounmpo is now part-owner of a sports nutrition start-up.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward agreed to terms with sports nutrition maker Ready Nutrition in a transaction that will grant Antetokounmpo part ownership of the company told CNBC. The company didn't give an exact amount for Antetokounmpo's investment, but said it's in the six-figure range.

"This is not an endorsement deal," Antetokounmpo told CNBC of his first brand investment. "Obviously, I can help the brand and go out there and sell it to everybody, but this is not what this is. … this is a company I really believe in."

"I could go with Gatorade, I could go with BodyArmor, but at the end of the day Ready was the right fit for me," Antetokounmpo added.

Antetokounmpo's agent, Alex Saratsis of sports and entertainment firm Octagon, said the deal with Ready Nutrition made a good fit for his client's personal story. 

"Both [founder and President Pat Cavanaugh] and Giannis and the brand itself have really started from nothing and really have a chance to grow together," he said.

The Pennsylvania-based company also partnered with Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald in November 2019. Donald and Antetokounmpo are the only two investors in Ready Nutrition, both receiving ownership stakes.

Ready Nutrition, founded in 2012, is poised to book more than $100 million in revenue this year, Cavanaugh told CNBC when discussing the partnership with Antetokounmpo. "The next number we're approaching will have a two in front of it," he said.

The company produces all-natural, organic sports nutrition products, including protein bars, powders and most notably, its protein water. According to Ready Nutrition, products are available in over 8,000 stores across the country.

One of Antetokounmpo's first initiatives with Ready Nutrition is supplying 34,000 bottles of the company's water product and 34,000 protein bars to be included in Milwaukee Public School students' daily meal program. Also, the company will donate an additional 34,000 bottles to Milwaukee healthcare workers.

Antetokounmpo joins fellow NBA star James Harden as an investor in a sports nutrition maker. The Houston Rockets star joined the late Kobe Bryant with an investment in New York-based BodyArmor. Antetokounmpo's endorsement partnerships include deals with Budweiser, Disney, T-Mobile and Nike.

Though he admitted his aspirations to emulate the late Kobe Bryant in business, Antetokounmpo also has sought business advice from former San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker. 

"A lot of people don't know what he does, but he does a lot of [business] in France and the U.S.," Antetokounmpo said. "He's accomplished so many things in his career on and off the court."

While his off the court investments are taking shape, Antetokounmpo's main source of revenue remains in question.  Though the NBA announced it's discussing a return of its season with media partner Disney, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michelle Roberts downgraded her outlook on resuming while appearing on HBO's Real Sports. Asked to rate if players would resume games, Roberts decreased her projection to a "six" from an "eight" out of 10, citing Covid-19. 

"I've gotten some recent concerns expressed by players now that babies – children – have been infected," said Roberts on the May 26 episode. "So, heightened concerns have come into the conversation." 

Asked for his thoughts on the league resuming, Antetokounmpo said: "I want to play basketball as long as it's safe for me and my family. I think the NBA will do the right thing to prioritize our safety and our health. So, I'm going to leave it to the NBA to make the right decision."

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