alex rodriguez a-rod
Mark J. Rebilas | USA TODAY Sports

Fanatics crushes another big-money deal in the sports card industry. 

Alex Rodriguez’s Slam Corp. was in talks with sports card and memorabilia company Panini about a potential merger. However, according to Bloomberg, any potential deal is deal is now off the table.

Panini was allegedly weighing the possibility of selling until A-Rod’s SPAC opened merger discussions in July of this year.

However, like Topps’ potential deal with an SPAC, this deal appears to have been killed by the aggressive deals recently secured by Fanatics.

Slam Corp. reportedly pulled out of talks of a merger after Panini failed to renew their two biggest licensing deals with the National Basketball Association and National Football League.

Fanatics inked a deal with the NBA and NBPA to replace Panini as its officially licensed cardmaker in 2026.

Fanatics also struck a 20-year trading card deal with the NFLPA that begins in 2026, when the league’s current deal with Panini expires.

Panini reportedly generated more than $1 billion in sales in 2018. They have been an officially licensed producer of NBA cards. The company also owns Donruss, a long-time brand in baseball cards.

Panini has been producing unlicensed baseball cards under its flagship Panini brand and Donruss. However, those brands are now questionable moving forward because of Fanatics’ deals with MLB and the MLBPA.

In January, Panini reached an agreement with the UFC to become the mixed martial arts promotion’s official trading card partner. Panini also has licensing deals with FIFA, Disney and Epic Games.

What the future holds for Panini is now a huge question. Topps is also diving into the soccer market hard right now in the wake of Fanatics’ baseball deals.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.