Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Exec: Endeavor considered $1B investment in LIV Golf

Field Level Media
02 Jun 2023, 08:55 GMT+10

Endeavor, the parent company of the UFC, the Professional Bull Riders and powerful sports agencies like IMG, nearly invested $1 billion into LIV Golf.

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel revealed the nugget in an interview on Freakonomics Radio released Wednesday night. He said Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, among the biggest names who defected from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-funded LIV league, approached Endeavor seeking funding.

Crucially, Endeavor's support would have replaced LIV's backing from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, a point of contention for many who take issue with the Saudi kingdom's poor human rights record and accuse it of "sportswashing."

Emanuel said Endeavor's business ties to the PGA Tour ultimately prevented them from pursuing a deal.

"We're all connected in golf," Emanuel said. "And (the PGA Tour) said, 'Please don't do it.' So we stopped. I'm friends with (tour commissioner Jay Monahan). We have a lot of business with Jay. I don't want to hurt Jay."

Instead, Emanuel said he encouraged Monahan to take the threat LIV Golf posed seriously.

"I said to Jay, 'We're pulling out. But you have got to figure out an economic solution here because ... it's going to force you,'" Emanuel said. "And he did. To his credit, I think Jay did an incredible job."

LIV Golf is in its second season and continues to receive its funding from Saudi Arabia. One of its star players, Brooks Koepka, won the PGA Championship in May in a field made up of mostly PGA Tour and DP World Tour golfers.

--Field Level Media

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