Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg are part of a new set of minority investors who have acquired a stake in Major League Soccer side Nashville SC.
Also included in the group are Antetokounmpo's brothers: his Milwaukee teammate, Thanasis; Kostas, who plays in Turkey; and G-League player Alex. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.
"Soccer is a global sport, and our newest owners once again reinforce our club's commitment to being a global team," principal owner John Ingram said in a statement. "Filip and Giannis are not just amazing athletes -- they are ambassadors for their respective sports, role models for millions and advocates in their hometowns and worldwide. We share a common belief that our teams not only play to the highest standards, but also lift up their communities and help those who need it most."
The addition of the new investors continues a trend in MLS in which prominent athletes have invested in the league's teams. The Phoenix Suns' Kevin Durant purchased a 5% stake in the Philadelphia Union in 2020, and James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers acquired 5% of the Houston Dynamo FC in 2019. Before that, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson purchased a stake in the Seattle Sounders FC.
In terms of Nashville SC, the addition of the Antetokounmpo brothers and Forsberg, the leading career scorer in Predators history, adds to the team's list of high-profile investors, which already includes actress Reese Witherspoon and her husband, Jim Toth, as well as Tennessee running back Derrick Henry.
"[Nashville] seems like a special place; there's so much that's up-and-coming," Thanasis Antetokounmpo told ESPN over a Zoom call. "And we kind of had the same journey as well. Like, we've really fought to be in the big leagues, to be there, to be acknowledged, and somebody came and gave us an opportunity. And at the same time, for us to not only give the sport of soccer an opportunity to grow but [be known] overseas as well.
"I want people globally to know about Nashville and see the soccer team. So it's a thing for us. It's big."
Although the Antetokounmpo brothers make their living in basketball -- Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas have all been part of NBA title-winning teams, and Giannis was the NBA MVP in 2019 and 2020 -- they share a love for soccer as well.
"My father was a professional soccer player, and it was the first sport I fell in love with in Greece," Giannis said. "I've always had the dream of owning a soccer team. When my brothers and I explored Nashville SC, we knew it was a team and a city that we wanted to get involved with. I couldn't be more excited to join the Boys in Gold, and can't wait to come to a match at GEODIS Park soon!"
The brothers' father, Charles, played professionally in Nigeria and Germany. Their oldest brother, Francis, played professionally in Greece as well. Charles died in 2017, and Thanasis said this investment is a way to honor their father's memory.
"I know he'll be so proud of us today, that this is happening," Thanasis said about his father. "It's not just the investment part of it. There's a part of it that's a legacy, that for us, it's for generations to come that we're part of this."
Forsberg grew up as a fan of Liverpool in his native Sweden thanks to his father, Patrik. But it was his attendance at some Nashville home games last year in the team's brand-new stadium, GEODIS Park, that persuaded him and his wife, Erin, to invest.
"The stadium here in Nashville, with the fans and the atmosphere, was awesome," Forsberg told ESPN via telephone. "It was like the first taste that this is real soccer, real football. And once we were approached by Nashville SC to do some kind of partnership, that kind of started everything.
"We were really excited about it, me and my wife and, here we are, months later, and it's been a really cool journey so far. We're just now getting started."