Panther Tracks

Cam Newton buys a stake in UFC with Serena Williams, Adam Levine and others

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton following practice on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton following practice on Wednesday, Sept. 14. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton has his own fashion line at Belk, he boasts endorsements from companies like Under Armour and Gatorade, and he just opened a food truck.

Now add part-owner of a mixed martial arts promotion to Newton’s growing list of business ventures.

The talent agency WME-IMG just bought the Ultimate Fighting Championship for $4 billion, and as part of that deal, 23 athletes and celebrities have purchased small stakes in the company, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

Other big-name new owners of the UFC include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, tennis star Serena Williams, actor Ben Affleck and singer Adam Levine, according to the news site MMAjunkie.

The purpose of bringing on celebrity investors is to provide “promotional muscle” for the intense sport of MMA, a combination of kick boxing and wrestling done in octagonal cages by male and female fighters. The UFC airs those fights.

Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME-IMG, told the WSJ Thursday that he sought celebrity investors who would help make the case that MMA is a mainstream sport. “They would always ask for tickets,” he said of the 23 new owners.

Terms of the investments by Newton and the other celebrities weren’t disclosed.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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