NFL quarterback Cam Newton may have recently played his last game with the Carolina Panthers, but he is entering a new business venture.
He has become an investor in Daring Foods, a startup developing sustainable, healthier meat replacements for chicken, the most widely consumed animal protein. The company was founded by Ross Mackay and Eliott Kessas in 2018 and launched in the U.S. in 2020.
In 2021, Daring announced a massive $40 million Series B funding round led by D1 Capital Partners. Hip-hop artist Drake and tennis star Naomi Osaka joined the round, along with existing investors Maveron and Palm Tree Crew, according to a press release.
Now, as Daring’s products have become available in 3,000 Walmart stores nationwide, Newton has jumped in as an investor.
“I don’t have a business degree. I play football, which was my ticket out of Atlanta. The other way out was illegal activity, and that wasn’t an option. I challenged the status quo, dared to work hard, and was able to leave. Growing up, my dad always said, ‘Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.’ He meant that your friends are influences on your life—they teach you lessons and are who you rely on, which is why he always encouraged me to surround myself with loyal people,” Newton told Fortune magazine. “It is why I don’t invest in businesses, I invest in people.”
Darling Foods was attractive to Newton, who, as a vegan, was very interested in plant-based food products.
“By 2019, I was recovering from numerous injuries, trying to increase energy, and improve self-care at my core. I had been vegan for years when I met Ross Mackay, founder and CEO of Daring,” recalled Newton. “At the time, I didn’t know the magnitude of Daring; it was still just a concept, but I had a gut feeling about Ross. I believed in him and his vision as a person and was all in.”
Newton says he hopes to get more Black people interested in plant-based foods.
“I’ve played more years in the league than I have left and am looking to build relationships, make investments, and grow as a person so that when I retire I can continue learning and make an impact. My privilege has taught me in my adult life the importance of a healthy diet. Being a Black man who grew up in the South, fried chicken was a staple in most diets. It was inexpensive and delicious; while not the healthiest option, we sometimes even had it twice a day,” revealed Newton.
He added, “Something I hope to accomplish with Daring is to teach the Atlanta community and others the power of plant-based eating. Forming a healthy diet doesn’t need to be expensive and can have the same taste, texture, and feel as real chicken without the harmful results to our body, environment, and the chickens.”’
In fact, using 2016 data Pew Research found that Black Americans are the fastest-growing vegan demographic in the country. Eight percent of African Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian compared to just 3 percent of the general population.