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Kevin Durant is using his power as an athlete to fuel his future as a businessman. Durant signed a $164 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019 and a ten-year, $275 million Nike shoe deal that assumes his continued superstardom. With those two alone, he will earn more than $70 million this season without suiting up for a single game. Durant’s goal is to turn that income into assets at a scale few athletes not named Jordan or LeBron have attempted.
Durant’s outside business vehicle: Thirty Five Ventures, cofounded with his manager, Rich Kleiman, a music industry veteran who previously helped start the sports division of Jay-Z’s talent agency, Roc Nation. Thirty Five Ventures has 15 full-time employees running Durant’s endorsements, foundation, and expanding collection of startups and media plays. Over the past few years he’s plowed more than $15 million into 40-plus startups. Nearly 70% of the companies have raised subsequent rounds at higher valuations, scoring what Durant claims are paper gains topping 400%.
More directly, Thirty Five Ventures has a production arm creating basketball-themed documentaries, series and scripted shows for outlets like Apple, YouTube and ESPN. “LeBron James was the first case study that you can build a real business while you’re playing,” says Kleiman. “Kevin is building a real and authentic company.”
For Durant, a 30 Under 30 alum who recently hit the grand old age of 31, the goal is nothing short of a ten-digit net worth. By the time his playing career is over, he’ll have made well over $500 million from salary and sponsorships. Now, Durant says, “I want to use the checks I get from companies to create true generational wealth.”
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