Fanatics Acquires Topps Trading Cards; Deal Reportedly Worth 'Roughly' $500M

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IV

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: Michael Rubin and Jay Z attend 40/40 Club Celebrates 18-Year Anniversary With Star-Studded Event at 40 / 40 Club on August 28, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images for 40/40 Club)
Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images for 40/40 Club

Sports retailer and memorabilia company Fanatics has acquired trading card company Topps.

“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 Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin in a press release. “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.”

Jabari Young of CNBC first reported "industry sources put the deal at roughly $500 million. It will include only Topps' name and sports and entertainment division, not the company's candy and gift cards line, one source said."

That means Fanatics now hold the exclusive license with Major League Baseball for trading cards. Fanatics came to a deal in August with the MLB Players Association and MLB for exclusive rights in 2026. Topps currently holds those rights through 2025, though Fanatics' purchase of the company will get them into the MLB trading-card market immediately.

Topps also has active trading-card agreements in place with the MLS, UEFA, Bundesliga and Formula 1 and recently reached deals with the NBA, NBPA and NFLPA.

Per Young, Fanatics' plan is to "expand the trading card business with more via direct-to-consumer commerce. For example, should collectors purchase a trading card, they'll be able to insure the asset, grade, store and even put cards on a marketplace to sell or trade through Fanatics."

The company also wants to "build out its NFT collectibles sector through its Candy Digital company, which has exclusive rights to produce MLB digital artwork."

Fanatics' CEO, Michael Rubin, is a minority governor of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

As for Topps, the company has been in the trading-card market since 1938. Some of the most expensive cards in history have come from the company's various collections, including the famous 1952 Mickey Mantle, which sold this past year for $5.2 million.