Michael Rubin, 47, has always been a self-starter. He sold vegetable seeds door-to-door around his Lafayette Hill, Pa. neighborhood before he was 10 years old. He organized kids to shovel snow for cash and then opened a ski-tune-up operation in his parents’ basement at 12. The companies got bigger as the career entrepreneur grew up. Today, he is the majority owner and CEO of Kynetic, which counts e-commerce retailers Fanatics, Rue La La and ShopRunner in its portfolio, and is worth $2.9 billion.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Rubin mobilized his companies and his deep Rolodex to help. Fanatics, which makes the official MLB jerseys, stopped production last month on the jerseys and pivoted to making masks and hospital gowns, with plans to donate one million masks and gowns.
This week he launched a campaign to address another of the major issues exacerbated by the global shutdown: food insecurity. The All In Challenge kicked off Tuesday with a Rubin video on Twitter. “Together what we want to do, is literally build the largest movement with all the best entertainers, celebrities, athletes, business titans, coming together to make a real impact on this issue,” he says.
The goal is to encourage celebrities to offer one-of-a-kind experiences and items in an auction and share them on their social media channels in videos. There are 145 offerings available as of Sunday morning. Total donations are at $11.4 million and climbing fast.
Rubin, who is a minority owner in the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, started the process with tickets, travel and lodging to 10 different top-tier championship sporting events, including a luxury suite for 20 at the Super Bowl. He threw in a $100,000 Fanatics gift card. The package is worth more than $500,000 but is available to win with a donation as little as $10.
There are dozens of experiences available, with a winner drawn for each from among contributors. They include co-hosting a show with Ellen DeGeneres, who also personally donated $1 million to the cause; a round of golf at Pebble Beach with Justin Timberlake and Bill Murray; and a private performance at your home from Justin Bieber. A walk-on role with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese’s next film, plus lunch with Leo and the cast, raised the most money so far.
Another set of prizes are awarded via auction, like golf and dinner for 10 with Peyton Manning; Meek Mill’s 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom; and a private magic show with David Blaine. A handful of these auctions have hit six figures already. The top one involves new Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. It includes four tickets to the Bucs’ home opener and either dinner or a workout with the six-time Super Bowl winner. Bidding reached $775,000 Sunday. Brady challenged his wife Gisele Bundchen, rapper Drake and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to also go “All In.”
All funds raised will be donated to Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, America’s Food Fund and World Central Kitchen. These charities are targeting food insecurity issues facing kids who usually get meals at now closed schools, the elderly population cut off from food sources, and the millions of people losing their jobs.
Rubin says he is just getting started and targeting a goal of $100 million for the All In project. As the fundraiser kicked off, Rubin said, “I believe when the world faces a crisis, businesses and sports have an obligation to step up and make a difference.”