(“…and if you can beat Harry Reid in ping-pong, I’ll *double* it.”)
MMA Junkie cites the Center for Responsible Politics in reporting that the UFC has spent $620,000 on lobbying the U.S. Congress this past year, mainly on anti-piracy matters. In terms of major sports leagues, only the NFL has spent more than the UFC. From the Junkie report:
“The industry-leading fight promotion shelled out $620,000, double the amount of Major League Baseball and nearly five times the National Basketball Association’s payout, according to the Center for Responsible Politics.
“The NFL dwarfed all major sporting organizations with $1.14 million.
“The UFC’s 2012 figures represent a 51 percent increase from the previous year, in which parent company Zuffa spent $410,000 in Washington, and a 158 percent increase from $240,000 in 2008, when CRP first tracked lobbying records.”
“A pair of firms – Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck LLP, as well as SB Consulting – represent the UFC. The promotion’s co-chief operating officer, Lawrence Epstein [said] that the firms are used to educate legislators on MMA and to push for tougher anti-piracy laws that could stem financial losses from illegal streaming.”
You may remember that some hackers attacked UFC President Dana White for his organization’s support of and lobbying for passage of SOPA. The UFC has long been aggressive in litigating real or perceived violations of its intellectual property, going after individuals, small business owners, and large companies alike, and this level of investment in congressional lobbying shows that they are eager to get all the legislative help they can as they seek to monetize the content they create and own.
It is impossible to tell right now whether or not the UFC’s lobbying money is being well-spent. SOPA failed and I’ve heard rumors that somewhere out there in the deep and wide inter web folks still download and share UFC fights.
The UFC’s lobbying of local legislatures has, in contrast, paid clear dividends. Since the UFC began making a serious commitment to lobbying state legislatures in hopes of getting sanctioned in all states, they’ve made great progress in the United States. New York is the only state of real importance that is still giving the UFC fits in terms of sanctioning. They’ve had similar success gaining sanctioned internationally as well.
Anyway, if you get a cease and desist letter from the UFC’s legal department and think to call your congressman to complain, you should know that he or she may have already heard from Uncle Dana.