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Ex-Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III invests in American Cornhole League


John Thompson III, head of the athlete development and engagement department for Monumental Basketball, poses for a portrait on July 22, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.

Ned Dishman | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Former Georgetown University men’s basketball coach John Thompson III is now an owner of a cornhole sports company.

Thompson and Asland Capital Partners CEO James Simmons III invested in the American Cornhole League. The transaction is ACL’s first funding round, but specific terms were not provided.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Thompson, son of legendary Georgetown University coach John Thompson Jr., explained the investment in ACL, adding the league is positioned to increase revenue over this decade due to its growing popularity.

“You kind of chuckle when you think about it,” Thompson said of investing in cornhole. “But as you dive in and do the research, cornhole is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.”

ACL launched in 2016 in South Carolina. The company has successfully leveraged the popular game — which requires participants to toss bags of corn kernels onto a platform for points — into a TV sport similar to bowling.

ACL has media agreements with NBCUniversal and Disney-owned ESPN and signed a multiyear deal with ViacomCBS in December. ESPN said viewership of ACL content is up 3% year over year compared with 2020. ACL’s most-viewed airing in 2021 was the Pro Invitational, which averaged 468,000 viewers.

American Cornhole League

Source: American Cornhole League

ACL was featured in a 2018 CNBC profile, which noted players could earn up to $25,000 in prize money. ACL is in its fifth season and scheduled to hold a $250,000 prize pool competition Saturday. In the 2018 article, ACL founder Stacey Moore targeted a $1 million prize pool in the future.

Thompson praised Moore for “growing the sport and increasing awareness,” adding ACL has “potential avenues of growth.”

The league also has sponsorships with companies, including sports betting company DraftKings.

“Is it a risk? Absolutely,” said Thompson. “But all investments are a risk. I feel strongly about the management team that we’re putting together and the team already in place.”

Thompson labeled himself a “calculated investor” when discussing his investment strategy. He used New York-based investment firm Inner Circle Sports to advise him on the ACL agreement and sees the company’s e-commerce offerings as an opportunity, too. ACL makes revenue from cornhole merchandise, products and apparel.

In a statement announcing the transaction, Moore said the new capital and business relationships would “help take our growth to the next level as we continue to evolve as a professional sport and organization.”

A return to the sidelines?



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