The Van Trump Report

Sports Stars Scoop Up First of Five Farms via Athlete Investment Group “Patricof”

A group of top athletes just bought a 104-acre Iowa farm for $5 million with their sites set on acquiring at least four more farm properties across the US. Cincinnati Bengals star Joe Burrow and Boston Celtics veteran Blake Griffin are part of Patricof Co., an investment and education platform tailored specifically for professional athletes. Around 25 other sports figures are part of the farmland investment, including NBA stars Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton, the NFL’s Zach Ertz, MLB’s Kevin Gausman, and the NHL’s Anders Lee.

“I think of it as a really smart recession hedge for people who are learning to invest for the long term,” said Mark Patricof, the firm’s founder and CEO. “It provides really significant downside protection and the opportunity to create a long-term investment strategy that fits the profile of somebody who’s young and can continue to make a lot of money and wants to be conservative with their investment strategy.”

Farmland investment has long been popular with high-net-worth individuals. Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, for instance, is the single largest private farmland owner in the US. According to the USDA, cropland values in the US rose more than +14% in 2022. The long-term returns are even more eye-popping, with cropland values climbing from an average of $2,760 per acre in 2008 to $5,050 in 2022, a gain of nearly +83%.

Patricof said his New York-based firm had an eye on the space for over two years before finally ironing out the initial investment late last year. The athletes involved have made a financial commitment to invest in five total farms across a diversified crop profile, though Patricof declined to comment on the total value.  

The farm purchased in Iowa currently grows corn and soybeans and the group says it will lease the land to farmers. The group is looking to purchase four more properties over the next few years, with one possibility being a watermelon farm in Oregon. Patricof added that the farmland investments will be long-term holds, perhaps even for several decades, which is far longer than the typical private equity hold of five to seven years.

Patricof has amassed nearly 200 athlete clients and deployed over $125 million across a series of private equity investments. As it currently stands, the company provides investment vehicles through PE and real estate. Investments range from low-profile businesses like the Car Wash Owners Network to Virgin Voyages and SpaceX. More recently, the company and some of its athletes invested in Tennessee’s Ole Smoky Distillery, the largest craft distiller in the US. (Sources: Bleacher Report, Sports Business Journal, Forbes)

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