Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fanatics has acquired Topps' trading card and collectibles business for roughly $500 million, according to people familiar with the deal.

Why it matters: Fanatics, the world's largest seller of licensed sports apparel, is now the dominant player in the booming trading card space, and home to the hobby's most iconic brand.

Catch up quick: Fanatics made waves in August when it signed exclusive trading card deals with the NFL, NBA and MLB by making them offers they couldn't refuse (lots of guaranteed money, plus equity).

  • The MLB deal meant Topps would lose its core product (licensed baseball cards) by 2026, a grim reality that forced the company to abandon its plan to go public at a $1.3 billion valuation.
  • Fanatics Trading Cards (a subsidiary of Fanatics) then used those exclusive deals as leverage to raise $350 million at a $10.4 billion valuation — without selling a single card.
  • Now, it's buying the company it undercut five months ago. And instead of having to wait until 2026, Fanatics can start selling MLB cards immediately.
A young baseball fan looks through his Topps collection in 1965. Photo: Bettmann Archives/Getty Images

Between the lines: All signs point to the Topps brand being fully preserved. In fact, 350 employees will continue working for Topps independently within Fanatics, per NYT.

  • Fanatics is expected to expand Topps' direct-to-consumer and digital product offerings, while continuing to sell cards through big-box stores and other retail channels.
  • The NFL and NBA licenses belong to Panini until Fanatics takes over in 2026. Don't be surprised if they try to buy them, too. (Upper Deck, which makes NHL cards, could also be a target.)
  • Trading cards are just one piece of Fanatics' expansion strategy, which also includes a new sports betting vertical and an NFT company called Candy Digital. They've also explored ticketing.

Of note: Fanatics didn't buy Topps' gift card operation or candy business (Bazooka, Ring Pop, Baby Bottle Pop, etc.), which generated roughly a third of the company's 2020 revenue. They'll remain with the previous owners, one of whom is former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Fanatics CEO and 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin (R) speaks with Patriots owner Robert Kraft during a 76ers game in 2018. Photo: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The big picture: Trading cards exploded in popularity during the pandemic. Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin and his team are making a big bet that the party has only just begun.

"Before this Topps deal, [Fanatics Trading Cards] had zero employees and had never sold an item, yet it was valued at $10.4 billion based just on licenses."
"To get the MLB deal, Fanatics paid 10 times more than Topps. That means they believe this industry will 10x over the next five years, as they help integrate trading cards further into modern sports culture."
"I think Fanatics views trading cards as a key part of its empire, alongside apparel, novelties, memorabilia, NFTs and betting."
Ken Goldin, famed collector and founder of Goldin Auctions

The bottom line: Collectibles are cool again, and their resurgence points to a larger shift in fan behavior. Did you really think the sports world's most valuable private company was going to watch from the sidelines?

Go deeper: Fanatics Trading Cards raises $350 million

Go deeper

Updated Jan 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.