According to Sky News, Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis star Serena Williams have agreed to each contribute around 10 million pounds ($13.1 million) in a bid for Chelsea Football Club.
The public relations value of having two of sport’s most recognizable personalities as part of Sir Martin Broughton’s attempt to become Chelsea Football Club’s future owners is evident.
However, as they approach the end of record-breaking careers on the track and on the court, Sir Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams are serious business operators in their own right.
Hamilton’s interests range from investing in technology startups to launching a vegan restaurant chain. The 37-year-old seven-time Formula One champion has a property portfolio worth £260 million that includes properties in London, Monte Carlo, and a number of US cities, according to the most current Sunday Times Rich List. The fact that he has been a lifelong Arsenal supporter will have no influence on this plan.
Meanwhile, Williams is a co-owner of a football team in Los Angeles, Angel City, as part of a star-studded partnership that also includes Eva Longoria and Natalie Portman. She and her sister Venus bought a stake in the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2009, making them the first black owners of an NFL team.
According to Forbes, the 40-year-old has invested in over sixty enterprises and has a net worth of £190 million. The 23-time Grand Slam winner recently invested a seven-figure sum in the marketing company OpenSponsorship with David Blitzer, the Crystal Palace minority owner who is providing considerable financial backing to the Chelsea bid, through her Serena Ventures investment group.
However, there may be ramifications that go beyond expanding financial portfolios.
Hamilton and Williams represent a growing number of elite athletes who are determined to live by the motto of being more than an athlete, and if the bid is successful, they will join NBA star, LeBron James, in owning a small part in a Premier League club.
James has owned Liverpool shares since April 2011, and according to estimates, his £6.5 million investment is now worth close to £40 million.
All three are outspoken anti-discrimination activists, and the appearance of black faces in circles dominated by middle-aged white men could have far-reaching long-term implications.
If their offer beats out the other groups, backed by US billionaires Todd Boehly and Stephen Pagliuca, Hamilton is expected to take on a formal role to promote diversity and inclusion at Chelsea.
During the sales process, the race has been a major issue. Due to father Joe’s Islamophobic views, the Ricketts family faced great criticism from fans after withdrawing from the campaign last week for unclear reasons.
Chelsea has received accolades in recent years for its anti-antisemitism work, and they see diversity and inclusion as an important area to invest in. Paul Canoville, the club’s first black player, has met with representatives from the three remaining shortlisted parties vying to succeed Roman Abramovich.