DraftKings Spent $2.2 Million on Security, Travel for Jason Robins, $61K on Event Tickets

Posted on: April 30, 2024, 10:29h. 

Last updated on: April 30, 2024, 10:41h.

DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) spent more than $2.22 million on air travel and security expenditures for co-founder and CEO Jason Robins in 2023, and the perks the gaming company lavished upon high-ranking executives don’t end there.

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DraftKings co-founders Paul Liberman (left), Jason Robins (middle), and Matt Kalish are pictured in 2012. In 2023, the company spent significantly on travel, security, and financial planning for those executives. (Image: DraftKings)

The $2.22 million the sportsbook operator doled out for its chief executive officer’s private air travel and security last year was above the roughly $2 million the company spent on the same things in 2022. Those items and more were detailed in a Schedule 14A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month.

For Mr. Robins, the amounts disclosed in this column include $1,114,762 for security costs, $1,112,973 for air travel costs, $9,900 for our matching contribution made under our 401(k) plan, $15,925 for financial planning services, $61,095 for the purchase of tickets, travel and accommodations to Company-sponsored events during the year, and $353,335 for tax reimbursements related to the aforementioned items, where applicable,” according to the regulatory document.

Some of that $61,095 was likely directed to Robins’ attendance at the 2023 Super Bowl. That along with nearly $26K in financial planning services and retirement plan contributions could irk some DraftKings investors due to the that fact Robins is estimated to be a billionaire.

Despite Spending, Robins’ Stock Sales, DraftKings Soars

In fairness to Robins and fellow co-founders Matt Kalish and Paul Liberman, shares of DraftKings have rallied even as that trio and other high-ranking insiders at the company have been dedicated sellers of the stock.

On April 22, Robins sold 200K shares of DraftKings, grossing $8.18 million in proceeds in the process, according to a Form 144 filing with the SEC. However, the stock is up 20.4% year-to-date and 93.8% year to date, making it one of the best-performing gaming equities over those spans.

In fiscal 2023, DraftKings granted Robins approximately $18 million in performance and restricted stock units and annual incentives. Kalish received north of $11 million in such compensation while the operator granted more than $10 million in performance and restricted units and annual incentives, according to the Schedule 14A filing.

Equity-based compensation is a plum deal for the executives receiving it because they’re typically granted options at prices well below market value. The DraftKings proxy filing indicates the options Robins can exercise options granted in 2025 through 2029 at prices ranging from 63 cents to $4.70. The stock resides around $42.50 at this writing.

Critics could assert that the $1 annual salary drawn by the three co-founders is nothing more than a public relations stunt because that trio and others are lavishly compensated in equity. Conversely, DraftKings bulls might be comfortable with the fashion in which Robins, Kalish, and Liberman are compensated because the stock has nearly quadrupled in less than two years.

Some Questionable Spending at DraftKings

It can be accurately argued that Robins is the face of DraftKings and he holds the bulk of the operator’s voting stock. As such, the board is comfortable with spending on his private air travel and security.

The audit committee and the compensation committee of the Board approved this arrangement based, among other things, on the requirement of Mr. Robins’ security program that Mr. Robins and his family fly private and their assessment that such an arrangement is more efficient and flexible and better ensures safety, confidentiality and privacy,” according to regulatory document.

Kalish and Liberman are less recognizable. That could introduce questions as to why DraftKings doled out $375,150 in fiscal 2023 on security for Kalish. The company also spent almost $20K on 401(k) contributions and more than $28K on financial planning for those two co-founders.