Topps Card Brand Acquired by Fanatics

The Topps brand of sports and trading cards has been purchased by Fanatics. Fanatics announced the deal earlier today, continuing the online retailer's disruption of the sports card industry. The purchase will only include the Topps brand name and sports and entertainment card division, but not the candy and gift card lines, which includes the Bazooka bubble gum brand. The digital card line operated by Topps will also be part of the Fanatics purchase. No official purchase price was announced, but insiders estimate the purchase price for Topps to be $500 million.

"With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business," said Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin in a statement. 

Topps was founded in 1938 and is best known for its long-running line of baseball cards, although the company has produced sports cards for other leagues, as well as cards for franchises such as Pokemon and Star Wars. The purchase allows Fanatics to start producing baseball cards several years earlier than expected. Topps currently holds the license to produce Major League Baseball cards, but Fanatics entered into a deal with MLB to take over the card business in 2026. Fanatics also has deals with the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and NFL Players Association in place. The purchase will also give Fanatics rights to leagues such as Formula 1, UEFA, Major League Soccer and Bundesliga. 

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Fanatics entered the sports card business several years ago and has aggressive plans to transform the industry around a direct-to-consumer model. Not only is Fanatics looking to emulate the NFT model for digital sports cards in a style similar to Top Shot's basketball collectible model, the company also wants to build a way for consumers to have their cards graded and even put up for sale directly through Fanatics instead of through a third party. Trading cards in general have seen a resurgence in recent years, driven partially by the COVID-19 pandemic drawing in newcomers to collectible hobbies.