LeBron James, John Legend, and Jay-Z: Celebrities Are Investing in US Sports Betting in Droves

  • Sports betting is reaching new heights in the US, and celebs are taking notice
  • Jay-Z has invested in Fanatics’ betting expansion, while also backing casino plans
  • Jake Paul has brought his controversial name to the space through Betr
  • More recently, John Legend, LeBron James, and others have backed Fantasy Life
LeBron James
Stars such as LeBron James (pictured) and John Legend are all getting invovled in the US sports betting space. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Getting in on the action

This week, American Gaming Association data has revealed that US sports betting is reaching heights never seen before. Q2 2023 represented the 10th consecutive quarter of growth for the sector, and it’s an upward trend that even celebrities are finding it difficult to ignore.

major names in US sports and entertainment have started to stake their claim

Over the past few years, major names in US sports and entertainment have started to stake their claim in the betting space. From controversial YouTuber Jake Paul to rap superstar Jay-Z and NBA legend LeBron James, the list of celeb betting investors goes on and on.

With news emerging this week that even more famous faces have dipped their toe into the sector through betting site Fantasy Life, VegasSlotsOnline News has taken a brief look at the celebrities that have ventured into the lucrative space so far.

Rap god to casino contender

Jay-Z is better known for spitting bars in front of sold-out arenas, but the Brooklyn-raised rap star has recently shifted his sights elsewhere.

In 2021, the rapper helped sports merchandise company Fanatics begin its betting expansion by contributing a staggering $325m. With Jay-Z boasting an estimated net worth of $2.5bn, this might be small change to the celeb, but it has certainly helped Fanatics get up and running. In fact, just this week the sportsbook launched in four states following beta testing.

the rapper also has hopes for a land-based casino in New York City

Not only is Jay-Z entering the wagering sector, the rapper also has hopes for a land-based casino in New York City. He announced in December last year that his entertainment agency Roc Nation had teamed up with Caesars Entertainment for a Times Square casino project. In a statement, Jay-Z deemed New York “the epicenter of culture.”

The battle for a New York casino is still in full flow with several firms interested. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation upped the ante in May by running costly full-page ads in local newspapers to detail the advantages of their project.

Bringing controversy to betting

YouTuber Jake Paul is certainly no stranger to controversy. Sexual assault, scamming, and xenophobia allegations all litter his career, but somehow the 26-year-old is still going strong and has turned to the world of sports betting to increase his net worth of around $60m.

Paul raised $50m for the launch of his sports betting startup Betr in 2022. He wasn’t the only celeb on the roster either, investors included rapper Travis Scott and NFL stars Ezekiel Elliot, Richard Sherman, Dez Bryant, and DeSean Jackson.

the company announced an expansion into traditional sports betting too

Initially, the site focused on in-game micro-betting, allowing users to wager on smaller events within games rather than overall results. However, in March this year, the company announced an expansion into traditional sports betting too. Co-founder Joey Levy confirmed the news via Twitter:

Betr first launched its real money offering in Ohio at the beginning of the year. More recently, the company launched in Massachusetts after securing a license via a 5-0 vote in May.

A star-studded investment list

If Jay-Z and Jake Paul aren’t enough to whet your appetite for sports betting investing celebs, get a load of this stellar list of big names. Singer John Legend, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow, Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen, Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, and NBA legend LeBron James have all invested in Fantasy Life.

The star-studded investor list has contributed a total of $2m to the venture, which provides rankings, waiver wire, start sit, traders, and more tools for sports bettors in the US. Fantasy Life founder and NBC Sports analyst Matthew Berry said the funds would go towards expanding the company’s list of products.

launched as a daily fantasy sport and betting newsletter in 2020

Berry told Axios recently that the site, which launched as a daily fantasy sport and betting newsletter in 2020, brings in seven figures of revenue annually. The firm makes most of its money selling ads and sponsorships, but also profits from content produced for media partners. Its betting tools aren’t yet monetized.

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