The late Hall of Fame NFL coach-turned-broadcaster called not buying into EA the “dumbest thing I ever did in my life.”
John Madden always regretted turning down a chance to invest his own money into his billion-dollar video game franchise.
Madden–the beloved Hall of Fame NFL coach-turned-broadcaster who died Tuesday at 85–reportedly blew an opportunity to make even more money on Madden NFL Football, one of the most popular sports video games of all time.
The original game, John Madden Football, was developed by Electronic Arts in 1988 for the Apple II computer to modest commercial success.
Company founder Trip Hawkins approached Madden about purchasing stock in EA, according to an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report, per the New York Post.
He offered Madden, then a broadcaster for CBS, the chance to “have as much stock as you want.” When the former Raiders coach questioned what “have” meant, Hawkins informed him that he would have to buy the stock. Madden wanted no part of that.
“Hell, I’m just a football coach,” said Madden in the ESPN piece. “I pointed with my finger, all knowing, and said, ‘I gave you my time. I’m not giving you my money.’ I showed him!”
EA’s share price shot from $7.50 to $70 from 1989 to 1999, according to ESPN, as the company went on to become one of the biggest video game companies in the world thanks to the iconic Madden franchise that has sold more than 130 million games.
The Madden games have reportedly earned more than $4 billion in sales and appeared on more than 30 different platforms. EA Sports’ FIFA is the only other sports video game to pass $100 million in sales.
Madden later described not buying into EA as the “dumbest thing I ever did in my life.” But the NFL coaching great did agree in 2005 to a $150 million deal with the company to use his name and likeness along with getting annual royalties.