Fanatics is a company specializing in the merchandising of officially-licensed sports memorabilia, including jerseys and other types of equipment. Its business includes all major North American sports, at both the professional and collegiate level, as well as an international branch covering sports such as soccer (known as football outside of North America). It has licensing deals with both equipment manufacturers and associations of professional athletes to ensure a smooth integrated business model, allowing teams and athletes to profit from this huge industry without having to manage the production and marketing of the goods themselves, largely by operating the leagues' and teams' e-commerce sites. It prides itself in ensuring a simple customer experience - in contrast with earlier models where finding such merchandise could be quite complicated for fans. The company was formed in 1995 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, FL.
The company was already deeply involved in baseball, through licensed jersey sales, when in late 2021 it was announced that both Major League Baseball and the Players Association had agreed to turn over baseball cards rights to the company at the expiration of their respective contracts with Topps (the expiration dates were different in the two cases). This left some uncertainty about what would happen to the venerable sports card company - and how Fanatics, which had heretofore never been in the sports card business, would acquire the necessary expertise in short order. The questions were answered on January 3, 2022 when it was announced that Fanatics was acquiring Topps for $500 million, thus adding the missing expertise, as well as Topps' huge base of current and historic pictures of ballplayers and various design copyrights. The purchase of Topps also included the rights to produce cards for other sports for which Topps held the rights, and the company completed its quasi-monopoly of the sports trading card market by also acquiring rights to produce cards for the NBA and NFL.
- Thomas Harrigan: "Fanatics acquires trading card brand Topps", mlb.com, January 4, 2022.