Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Pro athletes are diversifying into private equity, after years of focusing most of their alternative investment activities on real estate and tech startups.

The state of play: The driving financier is Mark Patricof, who previously led a media and entertainment-focused investment bank that he sold in 2015 to Houlihan Lokey. His inspiration struck several years ago, when co-hosting a "Shark Tank"-like show with former New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, in which winning founders received pro athlete endorsements.

  • "I realized that a lot of these athletes had no exposure to private equity, and really didn't understand what it was. It felt like an opportunity," Patricof tells me. "And plenty of companies and private equity firms like being associated with pro athletes."
  • He received financial backing from J.P. Morgan for a co-investment platform, whereby athletes like J.J. Watt, Venus Williams, Victor Oladipo, C.C. Sabathia, and Henrik Lundqvist get the opportunity to participate in deals led by such private equity firms as L Catterton and Providence Equity Partners.
  • Patricof and his team identify co-investment opportunities, and athletes get deal-by-deal participation rights. Patricof's other investors, including JPM, fill up the remaining allocation.

This is the convergence of two trends: Pro athletes becoming more sophisticated about their money, seeking more diversified investment options, and private equity firms trending toward co-investment over syndicate partners.

  • Patricof is one of the first to play at this new apex, but will hardly be the last.

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Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins has joined CNN as a contributor focusing on racial and social justice.

Why it matters: It's the first time the network has hired a current athlete to its slate of contributors, according to Variety.

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Photo via Kyle Boone/Twitter

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Why it matters: OANN, which Gundy has publicly praised, is a far-right cable network that regularly promotes conspiracy theories. Several hours after his tweet, Hubbard — who received support from teammates and other athletes — posted a video with Gundy, in which the coach said he had a "great meeting" with players about the shirt and he "realized it's a very sensitive issue."

Fortune 100 companies commit $1.6 billion to fight inequality

Data: Fortune 500, Axios analysis of company statements, get the data; Correction note: A previous version of this graphic did not include Northrop Grumman’s $2 million and Progressive’s $1 million pledges; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The 100 largest U.S. companies have so far committed $1.63 billion to organizations fighting racism and inequality, according to company announcements and an Axios analysis.

What's happening: Since protests began over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, companies have released statements of support for black communities and pledged donations to organizations like the NAACP, National Urban League, Equal Justice Initiative, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.