Underdog Fantasy Gets Long List of Backers to Fund $10M Investment

Posted on: May 3, 2021, 11:37h. 

Last updated on: May 4, 2021, 08:28h.

Underdog Fantasy announced on Monday it secured $10 million in investments, and then the fantasy sports operator threw a party online to celebrate.

Underdog Fantasy sports
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets has been a cornerstone to many fantasy basketball teams during his career. On Monday, Underdog Fantasy announced that Durant is among a slew of other athletes, entertainers, and business leaders who have come together to invest a total of $10 million in the emerging Brooklyn-based fantasy sports company. (Image: Getty Images/NBA.com)

The Brooklyn-based company also announced it would offer a $3.5 million season-long fantasy football tournament, with the winner getting $1,000,001. The tournament is run in Underdog’s “Best Ball” format, which is one of four games it currently offers.

In the “Best Ball” format, team owners draft a team of 18 players and then let it ride on auto-pilot for the season, as there are no trades or releases allowed. The players who earn the most points at each position will accrue points for the owner’s team. That means the owner won’t have to frantically set his or her lineup at 12:58 pm ET one Sunday because they forgot until the last minute to replace a starting running back on a bye week before they went with his or her significant other and their parents for brunch.

Besides season-long tournaments, Underdog also offers weekly multi-player “Battle Royale” games, daily multi-player fantasy games, and single-player daily fantasy. The latter is an over-under pick’em parlay-style game wherein a player picks between two and five athletes and wins money if each pick is correct.

Athletes, Rappers, Business Leaders Among Investors

The $10 million in funding comes from an almost surreal list of individuals. It includes Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, former Paddy Power Betfair CEO Breon Corcoran, and venture capitalist Kevin Carter.

Carter previously invested in DRAFT, a fantasy sports game founded by Underdog Chairman and cofounder Jeremy Levine.

Kevin Carter was the natural choice to lead our round, as he was the first investor in my last company while he was at SV Angel and believed in us before anyone else did,” Levine said.

The investor list also features athletes like Kevin Durant (with Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures), Jared Goff, Matthew Delladova, and Wilson Chandler. It also includes musical duo The Chainsmokers (with Mantis VC) and rappers Nas, Future, and Gunna. There’s also ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, as well as representatives from the gaming world, including Eilers & Krejcik, founders of SimpleBet, Fantasy Labs, Roto Grinders, and Action Network.

Others pitching in include Bleacher Report host and Louisville sports media legend Adam Lefkoe.

Lefkoe, Schefter, and The Chainsmokers were among those joining the Underdog founders and crew for an hours-long online event to herald the occasion.

Underdog Among Fantasy Innovators

Underdog, which held its first “Best Ball” tournament last year, is part of an emerging group of fantasy sports operators that have transformed the genre. Others in the industry include Guillotine League, which features NFL leagues where all players play against each other each week and the lowest point total for that week is eliminated.

In addition, like Underdog, PrizePicks and Monkey Knife Fight provide sports betting-styled games geared mainly, though not necessarily exclusively, for people who live in jurisdictions where licensed sportsbooks aren’t allowed to operate.

That has led to significant investment in the companies in recent months. In January, Bally’s Corp. purchased Monkey Knife Fight, while, like Underdog, PrizePicks has landed funding from the likes of poker pro Phil Hellmuth, former baseball slugger Andruw Jones, and former NBA player Andrew Bogut.