Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin brings star-studded Merch Madness giveaway to underserved kids across US

Lil' Baby and Russell Wilson were only two of the many stars Michael Rubin had helping with his event

HARLEM, N.Y. -- The children at Frederick Douglass Academy in West Harlem, New York had no clue what they were in store for on their last day of school Tuesday. 

In fact, kids around the country were in awe when they learned about the massive sports merchandise giveaway Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin had put together. The athletes and celebrities he brought with him to support the cause helped with the shock factor, too. 

Rubin’s inaugural Merch Madness Fan Gear Giveaway event launched via stadium sites, bus drops and more throughout the U.S. and nine other countries, becoming the largest one-day charitable merchandise giveaway ever.  


Donovan Mitchell poses with kid

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell poses with student at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, New York on June 27, 2023. (Fanatics)

More than 300,000 pieces of licensed apparel — hats, jerseys, hoodies and much more — were given to an estimated 100,000 underserved families, an initiative that Rubin knew he could rally some of his closest friends in sports and entertainment to take part in. 

"30 cities, stadiums around the country –—the Patriots’ stadium, the Sixers’ stadium, Raiders’ stadium," he told Fox News Digital in Harlem, the first of his three stops Tuesday for the event. He was heading to Boston after his short stay in New York followed by Philadelphia. 

"We got a bunch of our friends at Fanatics — basketball players, football players, different artists — all here to both help the communities, but also inspire them at the same time."


At Frederick Douglass Academy, children filed into the auditorium to learn that Billboard rappers Lil’ Baby, Meek Mill and Harlem’s own A$AP Ferg were in the building alongside New York Giants legend Eli Manning, Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell and sports personality Taylor Rooks. 

Rubin even had a special guest pop out at the event: Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. 

The screams and screeches from the kids in the auditorium followed to the gymnasium wear they grabbed some merchandise and got to meet some of their role models. 

But the guest list was a mile long elsewhere. In Miami, Odell Beckham Jr., Tom Brady and DJ Khaled were loving every second they got with the children at Fanatics’ event down there. 

Lil' Baby poses with Fanatics bags

Rapper Lil' Baby poses with Fanatics bags of merchandise on June 27, 2023 in Harlem, New York.  (Fanatics / Fox News)

"It’s so special, man," DJ Khaled told Fox News Digital over the phone. "I want to thank Michael Rubin and Fanatics for doing this in Miami. This is my home, the city I represent. Anything to give back to the community I’m going to show up always. It’s just a beautiful thing to see the kids smile, laugh and have joy."

Beckham added: "Michael Rubin’s such an incredible person. He taught me so much of my personal life. Just as far as what he’s doing now with this giveaway, it’s just incredible to be able to give back in such an amazing way."

In Dallas, Cowboys stud defensive lineman Micah Parsons headlined the event, and he explained why this event hit home for him personally. 

"I wish Michael did this 15 years ago when I was a kid. This is an awesome thing," he told Fox News Digital over the phone. "I never really had a jersey before. Never bought one. My mom wasn’t spending $200 on a jersey.

"For me, it’s all about the kids. That’s our future."

The list goes on and on in terms of stars that showed out for Rubin’s event, and the future is exactly what he’s thinking about when it comes to what he wants Merch Madness to become for communities everywhere. 

"Next year we’re going to make it even bigger and better. I think next year we’re going to give away $100 million in merchandise, hit 1 million underserved families," he said boldly. 

Michael Rubin, Russell Wilson and Lil' Baby pose for picture with kids

Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, rapper Lil' Baby and Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson pose with kids from Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem during Merch Madness inaugural event on June 27, 2023.  (Fanatics / Fox News)


"For us, this is what it is all about. Making a difference."