Antetokounmpo bros buy stake in MLS’ Nashville
- Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg are part of a new set of minority investors that have acquired a stake in Major League Soccer side Nashville SC.
Also included in the group are Antetokounmpo’s brothers, his Milwaukee teammate Thanasis, as well as Kostas, who plays in Turkey, and G-League player Alex. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.
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“Soccer is a global sport, and our newest owners once again reinforce our club’s commitment to being a global team,” said principal owner John Ingram in a statement. “Filip and Giannis are not just amazing athletes — they are ambassadors for their respective sports, role models for millions and advocates in their hometowns and worldwide. We share a common belief that our teams not only play to the highest standards, but also lift up their communities and help those who need it most.”
The addition of the new investors continues a trend in MLS by which prominent athletes have invested in the league’s teams. The Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant purchased a 5% stake in the Philadelphia Union back in 2020, while James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers acquired 5% of the Houston Dynamo FC in 2019. Prior to that, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson purchased a stake in the Seattle Sounders FC.
In terms of Nashville SC, the addition of the Antetokounmpo brothers and Forsberg, the all-time leading scorer in Predators history, adds to the team’s list of high-profile investors, which includes actress Reese Witherspoon, her husband Jim Toth and Tennessee running back Derrick Henry.
“[Nashville] seems like a special place, there’s so much that’s up and coming,” Thanasis Antetokounmpo told ESPN over a Zoom call. “And we kind of had the same journey as well. Like, we’ve really fought to be in the big leagues, to be there, to be acknowledged, and somebody came and gave us an opportunity. And at the same time, for us to not only give the sport of soccer an opportunity to grow, but [be known] overseas as well.
“I want people globally to know about Nashville, and see the soccer team. So it’s a thing for us. It’s big.”
While the Antetokounmpo brothers make their living in basketball — Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas have all been part of NBA title-winning teams, and Giannis was the NBA MVP in 2019 and 2020 — they share a love for soccer as well.
“My father was a professional soccer player, and it was the first sport I fell in love with in Greece,” said Giannis said “I’ve always had the dream of owning a soccer team. When my brothers and I explored Nashville SC, we knew it was a team and a city that we wanted to get involved with. I couldn’t be more excited to join the Boys in Gold, and can’t wait to come to a match at GEODIS Park soon!”
Their father Charles played professionally in Nigeria and Germany. Their oldest brother, Francis, played professionally in Greece as well. Charles died in 2017, and Thanasis said this investment is a way to honor their father’s memory.
“I know he’ll be so proud of us today, that this is happening,” Thanasis said about his father. “It’s not just the investment part of it. There’s a part of it that’s a legacy, that for us, it’s for generations to come that we’re part of this.”
Forsberg grew up as a fan of Liverpool in his native Sweden thanks to his father Patrik. But it was his attendance at some Nashville home games last year in the team’s brand new stadium, GEODIS Park, that convinced him and his wife, Erin, to invest.
“The stadium here in Nashville, with the fans and the atmosphere was awesome,” Forsberg told ESPN via telephone. “It was like the first taste that this is real soccer, real football. And once we were approached by Nashville SC to do some kind of partnership that kind of started everything.
“We were really excited about it, me and my wife and, here we are, months later, and it’s been a really cool journey so far. We’re just now getting started.”
Nashville beat New York City FC 2-0 at home on opening weekend and travel to Harrison, New Jersey, to face the New York Red Bulls on March 4.
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