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Star NFL quarterback Tom Brady has had a rough year. The seven-time Super Bowl champ came out of retirement—reportedly wrecking his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bündchen—to play a rocky season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the player and his ex-wife could now lose their sizable investment in collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which filed for bankruptcy and is reportedly missing at least $1 billion in client funds. The couple took an equity stake in FTX last year as part of a deal that made them brand ambassadors. On Tuesday, investors filed a class-action lawsuit against Brady, Bündchen, and FTX’s other celebrity endorsers.
These may not be the 45-year-old’s only setbacks. Public records for Brady’s charity reviewed by The Daily Beast reveal that his sports therapy and wellness company TB12, Inc., was in the red as recently as 2020, with a negative balance of $7 million in net assets.
Meanwhile, his TB12 Foundation—lately in the news for installing his “TB12 Method” for injury recovery and prevention in select Florida schools—has doubled its revenues in recent years with donations from just a handful of supporters, including multimillionaire YouTube personality Logan Thirtyacre, who shelled out $200,000. (The Brady superfan once paid $800,000 to a charity auction to dine with the GOAT and interviewed him over Zoom in at least one YouTube video.) Canadian billionaire Lino Saputo Jr., a Porsche-loving hockey fanatic who helms the Saputo cheese company, donated $250,000.
Other donations included $10,000 each from the NFL Foundation, Fox Sports (where Brady will reportedly star as a lead analyst post-career), and Federico Laurencich, a helicopter pilot in Costa Rica, where Brady and Bündchen owned a hilltop mansion.
Brady, who earned $350 million during his two decades with the New England Patriots, has given a small fraction of his riches to his own charity, with little over $200,000 in donations, according to the TB12 Foundation’s tax filings.
The quarterback’s for-profit company TB12, Inc. is the sole provider of “sports therapy” sessions for the TB12 Foundation. Since it launched in 2015, the foundation has paid Brady’s firm a total of more than $1.6 million for its services, and it’s the only company listed as an “independent contractor” for such treatments.
Some of the charity’s directors are paid employees of TB12, Inc., tax filings show.
Alex Guerrero, Brady’s longtime “body coach” and company co-founder, and TB12, Inc.’s then-CEO John Burns became directors of the nonprofit in July 2021, and the charity’s tax records indicate TB12, Inc. paid them $497,461 and $630,846 respectively. (Both Brady and Guerrero are each listed in the 2021 tax form as a “majority owner” of TB12, Inc.)
Laurie Styron, executive director of independent nonprofit monitor CharityWatch, told The Daily Beast that it isn’t common for a company to create a public charity, which then pays the company for its services. “I can say that I haven’t come across this type of arrangement too often in my 19 years of nonprofit financial analysis in a watchdog role,” Styron said.
“A charity’s board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the charity at all times,” Styron added. “Doing so becomes more complicated when there are competing interests between nonprofit and for-profit legal entities, particularly when the two organizations share key staff who have to balance their fiduciary duties between the two. It has the potential to get tricky if there aren’t adequate safeguards in place.”
As part of its filings with the state of Massachusetts, the nonprofit has also presented a glimpse into the finances of TB12, Inc., which it lists as a related organization to the TB12 Foundation. The for-profit nutrition and wellness company sells things like a $160 vibrating “pliability” roller, $60 plant-based protein powder, and $200 sessions with its body coaches.
Brady founded TB12, Inc. in 2013 to sell supplements and fitness equipment with Guerrero, who was previously in the FTC’s crosshairs for falsely claiming to be a medical doctor and peddling dietary supplement capsules he claimed could cure cancer. Guerrero, called a “snake oil salesman” by some media organizations, later went on to sell a drink that could supposedly prevent concussions that Brady endorsed. The product, called NeuroSafe, advertised on its packaging as a “seatbelt for your brain.” It wasn’t available for long; Guerrero stopped selling it in 2012 after the FTC sent his lawyer a letter that stated, in part, “we have concluded that your client did not possess competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the extraordinary claims for NeuroSafe.”
Guerrero’s scandals didn’t seem to hamper his ties to Brady. The former Patriot’s 2017 book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance, details his exercise and nutrition program developed with Guerrero and their concept of “muscle pliability.” According to the duo, softer, more pliable muscles lead to optimal performance and protect against injury—an assertion some experts have called pseudoscience.
Brady opened his TB12 Sports Therapy Center outside of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in fall of 2013, and, in an atypical agreement for the NFL, the Patriots paid Guerrero and TB12 staff to provide treatment for multiple players. Six years later, TB12, Inc. opened another location in Boston’s affluent Back Bay neighborhood, and the wellness company now offers its “body coaches” at some Equinox gyms in New York, luxury hotel Wynn Las Vegas, and Philadelphia’s Vincera Institute, a clinic for core muscle injuries.
As TB12, Inc. began to expand and forge corporate partnerships, the liabilities on the company’s balance sheet also grew, public records show.
TB12, Inc.’s net assets were listed at $862,460 in the foundation’s 2015 state charity records, and more than $2.17 million in 2016.
In 2017, TB12, Inc.’s net assets jumped to over $5.72 million before dropping to $3.62 million the next year. In 2019, the records show, TB12, Inc.’s net assets plummeted to $176,435 and a year later had a negative balance of $7.41 million.
It’s unclear how TB12, Inc. ended up with a potential $7 million liability. Asked for comment, a spokesperson for TB12 would only say that the company’s assets do not impact its charitable foundation.
“When a charity has a related for-profit legal entity,” Styron said, “it can turn into an accountability black hole.”
“If the charity is granting or reimbursing funds to the for-profit entity, and the for-profit is then paying money to other companies or individuals, there is a danger that charitable dollars are indirectly subsidizing the expenses of the for-profit,” she added. “Money is fungible.”
For its part, the foundation told The Daily Beast that donations do not cover any expenses or salaries for TB12, Inc.
Before the reported negative balance, Brady was under fire during the COVID-19 pandemic when it was revealed TB12, Inc. received nearly $1 million in loans from the federal Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Data from the SBA shows TB12, Inc.’s loan of $960,000, which the company claimed would support 80 jobs, was forgiven. The loan was approved on April 15, 2020, about four weeks after Brady signed a two-year, $50-million contract with the Buccaneers, and three months after TB12, Inc. acquired the nutrition and wellness company VitalFit for an undisclosed sum.
Days before TB12, Inc. snagged the controversial PPP loan, a spokeswoman for the company told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that it was opening a location in Tampa and also eyeing setting up in New York and Los Angeles. Brady and Guerrero opened the TB12 Performance & Recovery in Tampa that August.
Styron said that the charity could be indirectly subsidizing TB12, Inc. employees’ compensation if it’s paying the for-profit for services, while also providing publicity for Brady’s training methods.
“Charities have pretty wide latitude to decide what programs they want to conduct without breaking any laws or hard rules,” Styron told The Daily Beast. “But there is still a question of whether or not it is ethical for a charity to focus so much of its resources on programs that provide publicity for its founder. The answer really depends on how much public good is being provided and whether or not this publicity is what is driving the charity’s decisions about what programs to conduct.”
According to its latest tax filings, the objective of Brady’s charity is to “educate and inspire athletes to excel in both sports and life.” The mission statement adds, “We provide access to athletic, rehabilitation, and nutrition resources that empowers those at-risk due to economic or health-related obstacles, to reach their performance and life goals.”
In 2021, according to tax forms, that mission included helping “individuals through our scholarship program” and serving student athletes from high schools in Brockton and Malden, Massachusetts. The latest filing says that “25 high school coaches also benefited from a training session at both schools,” “a strength and conditioning training program for all Brockton athletes started” in 2022 for winter, spring and summer sports, and that the foundation donated TB12 equipment to “a number of schools” and nonprofits.
The foundation said it’s also “developing multiple partnerships” including with the Tampa Police Athletic League; Pinellas Education Foundation and the Pinellas School District; Operation Healing Forces, a nonprofit dedicated to members of the Special Forces; and the U.S. Special Operations Command Warrior Care Program at MacDill Air Force Base.
“350+ impacted in 2021,” the tax filing states.
TB12 Foundation’s social media includes photos and video of TB12 Inc. coaches training student athletes—including those from Brockton High—with stretching sessions and using Brady’s pliability rollers at TB12 facilities. “As part of our commitment to empower anyone to live pain-free and perform their best, we recognized an opportunity over the last year to step up and support underserved communities around our home in the Greater Boston area,” TB12, Inc. wrote on its website in June 2021. “TB12 and the TB12 Foundation got right to work and developed a program to sponsor and host young scholar-athletes from the city of Brockton, MA throughout their school year.”
As one local news outlet reported, in 2020, the sports company’s employees also visited Brockton Public Schools to give out TB12 merchandise when families picked up free breakfast and lunches provided by the district in light of COVID school closures.
A TB12 spokesperson said Brady and Guerrero created the charity to bring the TB12 Method to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it, across 9,700 treatment sessions valued at over $1.6 million. The representative added that in 2020, the foundation refocused on expanding its services beyond athletes to first responders, members of the military, and other clients in need of long-term care.
The foundation, they added, receives backing from individual and corporate donors, fundraising dinners and auctions, a grant from the NFL Foundation, and proceeds from Brady’s events and endorsements.
— TB12 Foundation (@TB12foundation) May 4, 2022
Still, Brady’s personal funding of his own charity appears limited. The foundation’s tax records indicate that Brady—among the highest paid players in the NFL, in part thanks to endorsement deals and businesses he co-founded other than TB12 such as his NFT startup Autograph, content company 199 Productions, and new clothing line BRADY, which sells $100 cotton hoodies—gave a total of $101,793 to the group between 2017 and 2019.
“A lot of philanthropy is some combination of providing public good while garnering public goodwill for a charity’s funders,” Styron said. “But in this case, the person who appears to be benefiting from the public goodwill isn’t providing significant funding to the organization.”
Brady and Bündchen, who alone is worth $400 million, were previously called out in a New York Post report for donating only a sliver of their wealth to their own charities—including the Luz Foundation, of which Bündchen is president. Gisele Inc., a company owned by Bündchen, donated $350,647 to her nonprofit’s coffers in 2019. That year, records show, Luz’s sole $80,000 donation went to a Bon and Tibetan Buddhist group formerly known as “Pointing Out The Great Way Foundation.”
Financial data from the IRS, posted on ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer, reveal the Luz Foundation’s revenues skyrocketed to more than $5 million in 2020, while its expenses totaled just $280,948. Bündchen’s representatives could not be reached for comment, and an accountant for the charity declined to comment.
Separately, in 2015 tax filings, Brady’s private Change The World Foundation Trust listed a $100,000 donation to the TB12 Foundation.
But, as the Boston Globe noted in an eyebrow-raising report, much of Change The World’s funding came not from Brady but from Best Buddies International, a nonprofit for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for which he has raised money.
Records show that in 2015, when Brady’s trust funded the TB12 Foundation, that money came from a hefty donation from Best Buddies, which was the only source of contributions for Brady’s private trust that year with a donation of $500,000.
From 2011 through 2016, Best Buddies paid Brady’s charitable trust $2.75 million, and according to the Globe, pledged an additional $500,000 in 2017.
What hasn’t been reported, however, is that Best Buddies likely gave Brady’s trust at least $1 million more in the years to come. The group’s tax filings reviewed by The Daily Beast show donations of $500,000 in 2018 and 2019 to a “JBV Charitable Gift Fund.” The address and federal tax identification number listed for that entity matches Change The World.
Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the founder, chairman and CEO of Best Buddies, told the Globe that he expected Best Buddies to pay Brady’s trust $500,000 annually. “I think it has been a smart move, because we have been able to provide services to tens of thousands of people because of Tom, while keeping him engaged and helping him pursue some of his own interests,” Shriver said in 2017. “It has been super-beneficial to us and him.”
It’s unclear why Best Buddies’ grants to Brady’s trust are listed under a different name. The nonprofit didn’t return messages left by The Daily Beast.
In 2017, Brady’s Change The World trust also donated $300,000 to an entity called the “JBV Charitable Fund.”
State and federal tax records reveal that the TB12 Foundation’s revenues are growing. The nonprofit had contributions of $348,161 in 2016—when $80,778 of the foundation’s $113,786 in expenses went to TB12, Inc. for sports therapy services. TB12, Inc. got an additional $6,600 for fundraising costs.
In 2017 and 2018, contributions totaled $246,893 and $95,629 respectively; those years, the foundation paid TB12, Inc. $285,469 and $322,031. The foundation received $382,292 in contributions in 2019 and paid TB12, Inc. $424,921.
Revenues for the foundation ballooned to $676,324 in 2020, and it paid TB12, Inc. $372,931 for “health and wellness services.” That year, the charity’s expenses totaled $483,496. The rest of the spending went to its accounting firm, fundraising, and management costs. (A little over $20,000 went to Anchor Foundation Consulting, the consulting firm run by TB12 Foundation executive director Lisa Borges.)
In 2021, the charity’s contributions and event revenue reached $1 million. That year, TB12, Inc. received $129,406 as an independent contractor out of the foundation’s reported $308,859 in expenses. Other expenditures included $4,900 in salaries and wages, $17,531 for accounting, and $168,908 in “other” costs. Tax records show Borges’ firm also received $70,284 for consulting services that year.
According to charity tax filings, TB12, Inc. also owed the foundation money. Independent accountants’ review reports, produced as part of state filings, indicated that TB12, Inc. owed the charity a gift of about $11,700 in 2019, as well as $16,200 in 2020.
This year, 10 middle and high schools in Pinellas County, Florida, are incorporating TB12 methods into their physical education and health curricula as part of a pilot program. According to reports, the TB12 Foundation is funding the training of school staff and providing the schools with $30,000 in equipment.
“I feel like everything I’ve learned over the course of 23 years in football has and will allow me to continue to help people in different ways,” Brady told the Associated Press in September. “I think starting young is really important, educating people on what works as opposed to the way things have always been.”
— with additional reporting by Beverly Ford
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