I was born and raised in Minnesota, where it’s kind of a basic societal requirement to loathe the Green Bay Packers. That being the case, I’m biased when it comes to Wisconsin’s NFL team.
But hating the Green Bay Packers is an easy box to check, and it’s always nice when you can derive some pleasure from your duties.
This isn’t even about their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who just lied about being vaccinated, then lied about lying about being vaccinated, then went on the shows to spew disinformation and be a dick like, somehow, the petulant millionaire super-spreader is the real victim in all of this. No, this is about something that anyone other than the Green Bay Packers football team might call “securities fraud.”
For $300, plus a $35 handling fee, you can now buy what the Packers are calling a “share.” This “common stock offering” has a catch: what you are buying is not a stock. It is, in the words of ESPN, “essentially a worthless piece of paper.”
This is a scam. For one thing, the Packer’s don’t need (more of) your money: they are a massively profitable team and are currently sitting on a $400 million reserve fund. More importantly, these “shares” have no equity, cannot be traded, pay no dividends, do not appreciate, come with no tickets, and claim to bestow “voting rights” but in reality do not offer any meaningful say in the Packers’ operations. “Shareholders” do get invited to an annual meeting, where the Packers admit they will try to vacuum up even more money (“You will not receive any special benefits with respect to tickets, preferential seating or discounts on merchandise, but you will receive an invitation to the annual meeting and the opportunity to purchase exclusive shareholder merchandise.”).
In the first few days of their sale, the Green Bay Packers offloaded 126,000 of these “stock shares.” The Packers intend to sell a total of 300,000 -- let’s call them what they are -- pieces of paper, in order to fund projects at Lambeau Field, including new video boards and concourse upgrades.
While the Packers do have a rich history of public ownership, it’s just that at this point: history. Today the Green Bay Packers do not function much differently than any other NFL team, except for having an exceptionally gullible fan base.
If you want to donate to a thriving football team that does not need your money, fine. But it certainly seems unethical to sell something and call it a stock when it does not meet the definition of a stock. It’s not like the Packers are actively covering up what is going on here -- the home page for their “common stock offering” says (in small print), “Common stock does not constitute an investment in ‘stock’ in the common sense of the term.” Still, when only about half of Americans own real stocks, and the target audience for a fake stock sale is a group of people who routinely wear foam blocks of cheese on their heads, I think it’s safe to say that the distinction is going to be lost on a lot of these new Packers “shareholders.”
Kind of seems uncool to take advantage of your most fervent supporters. There’s been a lot of that going around in American society lately. On the bright side though, I guess the fact that Packers fans quickly came up with $40 million to spend on worthless paper certificates is just more support for my hypothesis that the economy is actually in great shape. That’s like a solid week's worth of Wisconsin’s entire cheese curds and Miller Lite budget.
Ultimately, given that the Packers are only preying on Packers fans, it’s difficult to get too irate. Hopefully all the Cheeseheads out there enjoy their $300 paper napkins and their lying, disease-ridden quarterback.
Jonathan Wolf is a civil litigator and author of Your Debt-Free JD (affiliate link). He has taught legal writing, written for a wide variety of publications, and made it both his business and his pleasure to be financially and scientifically literate. Any views he expresses are probably pure gold, but are nonetheless solely his own and should not be attributed to any organization with which he is affiliated. He wouldn’t want to share the credit anyway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.