Why Was Jay-Z Forced to Sell His Share of the Brooklyn Nets?

Jay-Z may have started as just a rapper, but he’s become one of the most wealthy and influential figures in all of entertainment. He’s done that by being an outspoken activist for many causes. He’s also done it through his association with professional sports

Jay-Z was famously a part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, though he had to sell his shares of the team. Let’s take a closer look at his time at his relationship with pro sports, his time as an owner of the Nets, and why he had to sell. 

Jay-Z at a Nets game with his wife Beyoncé
Jay-Z and Beyoncé and a Brooklyn Nets game | James Devaney/WireImage

Jay-Z’s involvement with sports

Along with being a co-owner of the Nets in the past (more on that below), Jay-Z also has an advisory deal in place with the NFL. According to a piece in The Undefeated, Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s company, has a deal with the NFL to develop entertainment for the league (including Super Bowl halftime shows).

The goal of the deal is to increase the diversity of the acts associated with the Super Bowl halftime show. Additionally, the company will work with the league on their social justice activities included in their vaguely defined “Change Initiative.”

The move has drawn criticism in some circles — some see the deal as an attempt by the league to appear as if it’s doing more to help move social justice forward than it actually is. Either way, Jay-Z’s involvement with the NFL only shows how influential he’s become both with the American public and its elite. 

How Jay-Z bought a piece of the Brooklyn Nets

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Forbes reported that Jay-Z bought a stake of the Nets in early 2004, putting $1 million of his money into the deal. If you’re curious as to how much that got him, the answer is not a lot.

It qualified him to own 1/15th of 1% of the team. He owned more when it came to the Nets arena, the Barclays Center, owning one-fifth of one percent in that building (which is worth over $1 billion).

Forbes estimated that Jay-Z’s piece of the Nets was worth $350,000 while his piece of Barclays — a venue that hosts many concerts and other major events — was worth $2 million. 

Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé were a frequent courtside staple at Nets games. Even if he didn’t own much of the team, his ownership provided him an opportunity to be a part of his home squad. So if that was the case, why exactly did he sell his stake? 

Why Jay-Z sold his shares in the Brooklyn Nets

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In recent years especially, Jay-Z has tried to strengthen his foothold in the sports world. Consulting the most successful American sports league and owning a piece of an NBA team was a good way to do that. But there was another way he wanted to become an impact player: as a sports agent. 

That’s not to say Jay himself is an agent, but his company, Roc Nation, represents athletes. This represented a conflict of interest, leading to Jay selling his piece of the Nets. Roc Nation’s first client was baseball player Robinson Cano. They helped him negotiate a hefty contract with Seattle Mariners. 

Rolling Stone reported that Jay-Z looked at the move as an opportunity to do what he’d done in music but in the sports world: 

“Our newest endeavor is committed to building the brands of professional athletes as we have done for some of today’s top music artists…For Roc Nation Sports to function at its full potential, NBA rules stipulate that I relinquish my ownership in the Brooklyn Nets.”

It was no doubt a tough decision for Jay, but he’s likely been able to help more athletes than he did as a figurehead of a co-owner.