While the NBA moves forward with its restart plan in Florida, Kevin Durant will not be going to Disney World, as he continues to recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals. KD won’t be on the court, but his business empire continues to gain momentum.
The New York Times
Durant’s company, Thirty Five Ventures, cofounded with his business manager Rich Kleiman, has 15 full-time employees focused on Durant’s endorsements, startups investments, foundation and media properties. He’s invested more than $15 million into 40-plus startups. “I want to use the checks I get from companies to create true generational wealth,” said Durant for a Forbes cover story six months ago. Durant said his gains on paper topped 400% as of late 2019.
The four-time NBA scoring champ has made $500 million in salary and endorsements during his 13-year career. He ranked No. 7 in Forbes’ recent look at the world’s highest-paid athletes in May with $64 million over the previous 12 months.
While basketball has been Durant’s meal ticket, he’s betting on another sport in his latest investment. Durant was announced as an investor in Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union franchise in June. He bought 5% of the soccer club, with the option to purchase an additional 5% in the near future. Jay Sugarman, the Union’s majority owner, says the team’s valuation is north of $325 million, indicating an eight-figure commitment by Durant. Forbes valued the team at $240 million in November.
The partnership includes Durant, Kleiman and Thirty Five Ventures working with the Union to expand its marketing opportunities and overall footprint in the sports world. Durant has a massive platform to help the brands he invests in and endorses, thanks to 40 million followers on his social media channels and 800,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.
Durant’s startup investing ramped up when he joined the Golden State Warriors ahead of the 2016-17. Playing in the heart of Silicon Valley for three years allowed him to build relationships with executives from Google
Like fellow NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Durant also has his own production arm. Thirty Five Ventures has series and scripted shows for outlets like Apple, YouTube and ESPN. It produced last month’s Showtime documentary, Basketball Country: In The Water, which highlights KD’s hometown of Prince George’s County, Maryland and has supplied a steady flow of NBA players the past two decades. Swagger, a scripted series based on Durant’s early life is backed by Hollywood heavyweight Brian Grazer and will be distributed on Apple’s new streaming service.
Durant’s foundation is an equally important part of Thirty Five Ventures. He pledged $10 million over 10 years to help Prince George’s kids go to college. The Durant Center opened last year in conjunction with College Track, an after-school program that helps disadvantaged kids get into college. Durant and his endorsement partner, Degree, announced this week a $1 million commitment to 10 sports organizations to help kids without access to recreational facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.