Former NFL Star Colin Kaepernick Joins Wave of Sports-Focused SPACs

Former NFL quarterback and current civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick announced on Feb. 9 that he had formed a SPAC named Mission Advancement Corp. A SPAC is a shell company — a corporation that exists only on paper — that buys private companies with the sole purpose of taking them public. SPAC sponsors raise money and then identify companies to acquire. Those who invest in the SPAC don’t know what company will be acquired, which has led many to nickname SPACs “Blank Check” companies. Because investors aren’t investing in a company but rather the sponsors who will eventually buy a company, Wall Street institutional investors with good records are most likely to entice support for SPACs. 

Kaepernick created Mission Advancement in partnership with the private equity firm The Najafi Companies. The SPAC is committed to raising some $250 million and is focused on addressing issues of racial inequality and social justice, according to multiple reports. Mission Advancement is looking to acquire companies that have an enterprise value of greater than one billion, a strong business model, and an established base in the U.S., according to the Najafi/Kaepernick partnership’s SPAC registration, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Kaepernick sparked controversy in 2016 when he decided to kneel rather than stand for the playing of the national anthem. He knelt to protest ongoing racial injustice, police brutality and systemic oppression in the U.S. Although some critics were initially upset, believing that this move was disrespectful to the military and others who protect America’s freedoms, others sided with Kaepernick and believed that he jump-started a powerful and important movement. After his contract with the San Francisco 49ers ended in 2017 and he became a free agent, Kaepernick was never re-signed. Although he has tried over the years to get back on a team, he has never signed a contract, leading many to believe he was “blackballed” by the league. Since then, he has turned his attention to social issues and become a prominent civil rights activist. 

Kaepernick’s official position in the newly-announced SPAC is co-sponsor and co-chairman. One important aspect of Mission Advancement is its board members. In keeping with Kaepernick’s commitment to providing minorities with equal opportunity, the board is made up entirely of Black, indigenous and other people of color, and also has a female majority.

Over the past year, many other athletes have also entered the business world as sponsors of SPACs. Alex Rodriguez announced on Feb. 4 that his SPAC, Slam Corp., is now trading after raising some $500 million, proving that well-known figures, not just Wall Street institutionalists, can attract investors. In the next few years, it will be extremely interesting to see if these athletes can translate their success on the football fields and baseball diamonds into success in the business world.