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How Fanatics’ All In Challenge became the wildest $50 million celebrity charity contest ever

An inside look at the charity drive that’s raised more than $40 million to fight food insecurity.

How Fanatics’ All In Challenge became the wildest $50 million celebrity charity contest ever
[Photo: Baris-Ozer/iStock; Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash]

Chris Pratt has offered you a chance to get eaten by a dinosaur in the next Jurassic World blockbuster.

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Justin Bieber is offering to fly to your house and sing you a song.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is offering his 283-diamond Super Bowl LI championship ring.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro have offered up a walk-on role in the next Martin Scorcese film, Killers of the Flower Moon.

It’s all part of the All In Challenge, a charity drive by Fanatics and its founder Michael Rubin to raise money to support organizations fighting food insecurity such as Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, and America’s Food Fund benefiting Feeding America and World Central Kitchen.

Launched on April 14, so far the All In Challenge has raised about $50 million. Rubin says the idea came about after Fanatics had already moved to shift production in its factories to swap Major League Baseball uniforms for masks and gowns to help healthcare workers.

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“That led me to ask, what else can I do?” says Rubin, also a coowner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. “I’ve always been an admirer of the Ice Bucket Challenge, so this idea just popped in my brain, that if I could get every athlete, artist, celebrity, business titan, to go all in and donate a prized possession or incredible experience, then we could raise a tremendous amount of money for this issue of food security during the pandemic. Certainly it’s always been a problem, but we have 40 million people unemployed right now, kids who count on school meals that they don’t have now. It’s just a giant problem, and we want to make an impact. The goal here to do all that in an uplifting way.”

When Rubin had the idea, his first call was to Meek Mill, with whom he cofounded the Reform Alliance organization to change unfair probation and parole policies.

“I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this crazy idea: I want to get athletes to donate incredible prizes or experiences, and he said, ‘That’s great but why not also do artists and celebrities?’ So I asked him what he’d do, and he said he’d donate his Rolls Royce Phantom.”

Next up in the Rolodex was Kevin Hart.

“I asked him to be someone’s trainer for the day,” says Rubin. “And he said, ‘Trainer? I’ll put someone in one of my movies.’ That was insane. Then I called Robert Kraft and told him the idea, and he said he loved it and wanted to figure out what to do.”

On May 11, Kraft put his Super Bowl LI ring up for auction, and bidding has already reached $1 million.

Just like the Ice Bucket Challenge, All In thrives on the competitive nature of celebs calling each other out. It was Bieber who challenged Pratt to come up with something better. Madonna challenged Ariana Grande to get involved. Drake was called out by Tom Brady. Kevin Hart put the call out to a whole roster that included Dwayne Johnson, LeBron James, and . . . Nicole Kidman.

The challenge has since gone beyond sports and entertainment and into the business world, with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon offering small- and medium-size businesses the chance to bid on a 10-minute pitch of their business plan to him and a panel of executives in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has offered up a mentoring session and more.

Other partners who helped get All In off the ground included Spring founder Alan Tisch, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Rubin’s Fanatics executive team. It was Tisch who came up with the idea to broaden the scope beyond a simple auction. “He said we shouldn’t do it all as auctions, because then it’s just limited to rich people,” says Rubin. “He came up with the sweepstakes idea, and now we’ve had more than 700,000 individuals do the sweepstakes.”

Right now, there is no end date for the challenge, and it’s continually adding new prizes and experiences.

Rubin says the response from both celebrities and business leaders has been amazing—and helped boost their goals.

“I like setting impossible goals and trying to accomplish them, so while externally we were saying we wanted to raise $10 million, internally we were aiming for $100 million,” he says. “That was just me saying, what would be impossible and how do we do it? I don’t know if we’re going to get it, but less than a month later we’re about halfway there. That’s pretty exciting.”

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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