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‘SI’ Owners Sue Former Publisher Who Tried to ‘Burn Everything Down’

Apr 1, 2024

Days before The Arena Group, Manoj Bhargava’s media company, lost the rights to publish Sports Illustrated, the 5-Hour Energy tycoon sought to taint the venerable publication enough to make its owner, Authentic Brands Group, “cry uncle” and “surrender.”

Authentic, which has owned SI since 2019, made those allegations and many more in a federal lawsuit against Bhargava and Arena on Monday, two weeks after Authentic selected Minute Media to take over as SI’s new publisher. The lawsuit seeks at least $48.75 million, including a $45 million termination fee and a $3.75 million royalty payment. Arena missing that payment in January led Authentic to terminate Arena’s 10-year, $150 million license agreement to publish SI.

“Bhargava behaved more like a gangster than a trusted business partner and good-faith counterparty, threatening to rip up the Licensing Agreement, and essentially burn everything down and destroy the SI brand, unless ABG entered into a new agreement on completely new terms,” Authentic said in the civil complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Source: Front Office Sports

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