Grammy-winning Seattle rapper Macklemore remembers falling in love with hockey the first time he went to see his 10-year-old nephew, Ryder, play in a youth game in Jupiter, Florida.
It was still about a year before the Kraken franchise was awarded to Seattle and well before the 38-year-old Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, was announced Monday with former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch as a new minority investor with the team and Climate Pledge Arena. He’d gone to his nephew’s game “trying to be a good uncle” and figuring he’d sit in seclusion in some corner seats and snap some photos for Instagram posts.
“Within probably three minutes, I was screaming,” he said in an interview after Monday’s announcement. “I was up against the glass yelling at the ref. I immediately fell in love with the intensity — with the fast-paced nature of the game.
“I was like: ‘Wow! I never knew that I liked hockey,’ ” he said. “But I still didn’t really watch it on TV. Fast forward to us getting a team, the minute we got the Kraken, I was like, ‘OK, now I’m going to get into this.’
“I remembered how much fun it was going to watch my nephew. And going to games, there’s just no energy like it. It’s very different than any other sport I follow. I’m a new fan. But I am an excited fan.”
The team did not disclose the amount of the investments, though minority stakeholder shares typically have been for $5 million. Those stakes also include ownership shares in arena revenues.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of things, but this is something I never would have imagined — as a young hyena I always dreamed of playing on a professional team but owning one is something special,” Lynch said in a release put out by the team. “As I look back on some of my accomplishments — I retired before I was 30 and now being an owner of a professional club at the age of 35 — I’m gonna continue to count my blessings … being a part of the Seattle Kraken is something big for me it gives me another chance to get a ring after helping bring the first NFL one to the city.”
The duo joins an ownership group led by managing partner David Bonderman and his daughter, Samantha Holloway, who is chair of the team’s executive committee.
Lynch will participate in the team’s “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign and help plan events focused on young people and community activism. Macklemore will work to produce music events that serve the community and engage with fans. He’ll also partner with the team for an annual Bogey Boys and Seattle Kraken Golf tournament.
Bogey Boys is a golf and lifestyle clothing brand launched by the rapper last year.
Macklemore and Lynch have been friends since the rapper’s song “Can’t Hold Us” with Ryan Lewis became the Seahawks’ unofficial anthem during their run to the Super Bowl title in the 2013 season. Macklemore and Lewis performed during halftime of the 2014 NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field, when Richard Sherman tipped a pass headed for Michael Crabtree that led to a sealing Malcolm Smith interception.
Two weeks later, in New York, Macklemore and Lewis also performed at the Super Bowl after-party following the Seahawks’ win over Denver.
“We were right there for ‘The tip’ — we were right there on the sidelines, and the organization has always been super cool to me,” he said. “That was a phenomenal year in terms of Seattle history.”
For a guy raised on Capitol Hill cheering for local sports teams, the moment was surreal.
“I can’t even put it into words,” he said. “That was magic. It was a magical era. For me it wasn’t even about the performance at halftime. It was about getting the ‘W.’ … I cared about that more than anything.”
Since then he’s gone on to become a minority owner of the Sounders since 2019. He is also frequently seen sporting Sonics basketball jerseys.
He began discussing minority ownership in the Kraken with CEO Tod Leiweke — also a fellow Sounders minority owner and former founding team president — before last summer’s NHL expansion draft. Macklemore and Lynch participated in the draft, announcing player selections, then got into deeper discussions about what they could bring to the ownership group.
Macklemore said he plans to “definitely do a show at Climate Pledge for sure” and feels his arena stake will be “a huge bonus” going forward. He’s already had discussions about using the arena to help elevate the local artistic community and “utilizing different parts of the arena for smaller things, smaller shows” during a hockey game or other event.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of history,” he said. “You look at Seattle, and our sports teams define us. They’re our very fabric. It’s what brings our people together. We rally around one common goal. I’ve loved sports my entire life. It’s a huge part of who I am. And I have nothing but love for this city. The Kraken have been amazing in terms of wanting me to get involved on the creative side of what they’re doing with the game and the organization.
“It’s just the beginning of a new chapter, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”