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Baron Browning of the Broncos Leads Effort to Give Fans the Opportunity to Invest in Their Favorite Players

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DENVER (AP) — You hear it all the time in the world of sports: this athlete’s stock is skyrocketing or that player’s stock is plummeting.

Soon, that’ll actually be the case for some jocks.

Vestible Inc. is awaiting qualification by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to introduce an investment platform that will allow fans to buy and sell shares in future income streams of collegiate and professional athletes beginning with Denver Broncos outside linebacker Baron Browning.

“It’s cool to think I’m going to have my own stock,” Browning told The Associated Press. “I know being an NFL player brings different opportunities, but I never would have guessed this would be one of them.”

Vestible is the brainchild of Parker Graham and Yves Batoba, former teammates on Oklahoma State’s football team more than a decade ago who each had brief stints in the NFL — Graham as an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and Batoba as the Miami Dolphins assistant director of player development for several years.

After football, Graham went to work in investment management and founded the banking software company Finotta. This is his second start-up. After several years with the Dolphins, Batoba branched out into comprehensive athlete development.

As they tell it, they found out how to combine their “superpowers” three years ago when they co-founded Vestible, which is regulated by the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and will allow athletes to sell equity in their professional playing careers with fans investing via IPOs.

“So, the same way that they would invest in Google, Apple, Meta, they’re able to invest in Baron Browning, who is the first athlete we’re going to market with,” Batoba said.

“Once Baron does this initial public offering, 1% of his income every month is going to go to his investors as a dividend,” Parker said.

Browning, who will receive 80% of the proceeds from his IPO, fits Vestible’s profile as an up-and-coming player with a massive upside potential.

He’s in the third season of his four-year, $4.8 million rookie contract he signed as a third-round draft choice out of Ohio State in 2021. His earning potential escalated last year when he made a successful move from inside linebacker to edge rusher.

“I didn’t have a true love for playing inside linebacker like I do for playing outside linebacker,” said Browning, who’s become a key component of Denver’s defensive surge during the Broncos’ bounce-back from a 1-5 start.

He said being Vestible’s launch athlete will allow him to take control of his personal branding and benefit more directly from fan support. Until now, the extent of that engagement was fans following his social media posts.

“It’s about rewriting the rules,” Browning said. “I believe this has the potential to change the way athletes and fans engage with one another.”

Vestible intends to follow Browning’s launch in the coming months with other athletes from across the NFL, NBA, college football and NCAA men’s and women’s basketball.

“I think of our athletes as blue-chip, high-ceiling caliber players,” Parker said. “So, these are individuals whose name you know when we say them and carry a lot of cachet from a social capital perspective. This is not a platform where you’ll see a random player for Iowa. This is going to be THE player from Iowa or THE player for the Denver Broncos. That’s who our clientele is.

“Instead of investing in Google, Apple, Facebook, you’re investing in the next Pat Mahomes, the next Aaron Rodgers, the next Travis Kelce.”

Moreso than established superstars, however, “our typical persona is an up-and-comer who’s at the top of his or her position,” Parker said.

Other platforms have attempted to unite the sports and investment worlds, but those ventures used tracking stocks with values tied to an athlete’s on-field performance. Parker said Vestible’s proposed securities are solely based on market demand.

“We’re uniting fans and athletes. We’re not going out and purchasing future earnings in athletes,” Parker said. “We’re here to allow the everyday fan to engage with the athletes. If you have enough to buy a jersey you have enough to buy stock in an athlete’s IPO.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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