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DraftKings’ Top Lawyer Rides Fantasy Sports Wave to $56 Million

March 3, 2021, 11:19 PM

DraftKings Inc.’s chief legal officer R. Stanton Dodge received nearly $56 million in total compensation last year, riding a surge of optimism over more lenient state sports betting regulations from which the company stands to benefit.

DraftKings disclosed last week that it expects to book nearly $1 billion in revenue during 2021, up from between $750 million and $850 million last year.

The Boston-based online gambling company, which went public last year by merging with a special purpose acquisition vehicle, has watched its stock price spike this year as states like New York prepare to potentially legalize mobile sports betting in an effort to shore up tax coffers decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dodge earned approximately $55.9 million in total compensation last year, according to recent securities filings by DraftKings and Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. The latter, a blank-check company, combined with sports betting technology supplier SBTech Global Ltd. in a three-way, $3.3 billion merger that smoothed the way for DraftKings to go public at the start of the pandemic.

DraftKings hired Dodge, who spent more than two decades in-house at DISH Network Corp., in late 2017 to replace its former legal chief Jonathan Hughes. DISH and DraftKings announced a sports betting partnership Wednesday.

Bloomberg data shows that Dodge owns almost $14.8 million in DraftKing stock. He’s also sold off at least $15.5 million within the last year, according to securities filings.

The most recent disclosures by DraftKings delineate executive compensation incentives in place prior to its going-public transaction and those paid out last year.

Dodge received $670,000 in salary, $850,000 in non-equity incentive plan compensation, and a $1 million bonus in connection with the closure of the deal that took the company public. DraftKings noted that following its merger last year, Dodge’s base pay was reduced from $1 million to $500,000 in order to “align his pay mix” with other senior executives by “placing more of his total compensation at risk.”

The bulk of Dodge’s pay package is comprised of more than $53.8 million in stock awards. A source with knowledge of DraftKings’ operations said the size of Dodge’s stock awards is part of an executive compensation structure designed to align management with shareholders and incentivize long-term growth.

Given how well DraftKings has done since going public—the company’s stock price rose 335% in 2020—Dodge’s share-based performance triggers completely vested, creating a payday that might make the company’s sweepstakes winners envious.

DraftKings’ other top executives have also reaped the benefits from the company’s stock price success. CEO Jason Robins and fellow company co-founders Matthew Kalish and Paul Liberman had 2020 total compensation packages of $236.8 million, $197.2 million, and $197.2 million, respectively. Jason Park, hired by DraftKings as CFO in 2019, received $56.1 million in total compensation last year.

DraftKings declined to discuss the details of its compensation calculus.

The company, started in 2012, has hired several lawyers within the last year, including senior manager for regulatory operations Breard Snellings, who joined DraftKings in August after almost two years in-house at Sportradar AG.

Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that Sportradar, a Swiss gambling data company whose backers include Mark Cuban and Michael Jordan, is in talks to go public by merging with a SPAC controlled by billionaire Todd Boehly, a co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jordan, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Hornets, is also an investor in DraftKings.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com