NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s makes first start up investment

The Milwaukee Bucks star has earned more than $150 million in his career in salary and endorsements and is the reigning NBA MVP. But in May of this year, he made some off the court business moves, with his first start up investment in Ready Nutrition, which makes all-natural, low-sugar, high-protein water. Ready Nutrition is one of the fastest growing sports nutrition companies in America, launched in 2012, the company posted sales of more than $100 million last year on double-digit growth.

Antetokounmpo was naturally drawn to Ready Nutrition’s founder Pat Cavanaugh, who also was an underdog who defied the odds. Cavanaugh was an undersized, walk-on basketball player in the late 1980s at the University of Pittsburgh, who later earned a scholarship and was named team captain. He launched Ready Nutrition in 2012 and posted sales of more than $100 million last year on double-digit growth and available in over 8,000 stores across the country . “What I love about Giannis, we both started from nothing and built ourselves up,” says Cavanaugh.

Besides giving him an ownership stake, Antetokounmpo has creative input at multiple levels of the company’s business, along with an exclusive endorsement pact and community role with the brand’s Ready Water and other sports nutrition products. However, Giannis downplays that part of their pact. “This is not just an endorsement deal, it’s something I believe in. I love working with Pat,” he says. According to the company, a percentage of sales will be donated in Ready Products to scholastic teams in need in all 30 NBA Cities, as well teams and clubs in Greece, Nigeria, Ireland, India and China. Antetokounmpo’s current endorsement partnerships include deals with Budweiser, Disney, T-Mobile and Nike.

The Pennsylvania-based company also partnered with Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald in November 2019. Donald and Antetokounmpo are the only two investors in Ready Nutrition, both receiving ownership stakes. Antetokounmpo joins fellow NBA star James Harden as an investor in a sports nutrition maker. The Houston Rockets star joined the late Kobe Bryant with an investment in New York-based BodyArmor.