ESPN, NBA, Andscape, and ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ Launched Award-winning Champion Black Businesses Campaign for Fourth Year Ahead of 2023 NBA Finals

Following three successful years since the program launched in 2020, ESPN, in collaboration with NBA, Andscape, and ABC, announced on May 30, 2023, year four of the award-winning Champion Black Businesses (CBB) initiative. CBB continues to elevate Black-owned businesses, showcasing the diversity and creativity of Black entrepreneurship and cementing their importance by sharing their stories across ESPN platforms during the NBA Finals and beyond.

In 2023, ESPN worked with Black-owned and women-led cultural marketing agency Seven Elements Group on the initiative.

“Champion Black Businesses continues to evolve and grow, and we’re excited to launch Year 4,” said Emeka Ofodile, Vice President of Sports Marketing, ESPN. “Black businesses are the heart of local communities across this country and we’re committed to leveraging the power of our sports media platform to drive positive impact in those communities. Seeing the impact this program has made in the past three years fuels us to do more, and we can’t wait to get to work with our 2023 businesses.”

The Businesses:

  • Boston, Rock City PizzaJoseph Charles founded Rock City Pizza in 2013, honoring his passion for pizza and his years of experience in the restaurant industry. A pizzeria dedicated to the ultimate pizza experience, Rock City Pizza was named in tribute to Boston’s music legacy, and now in two locations, is a growing favorite with the community.
  • Los Angeles, Oldvine FloralsOldvine Florals is a floral shop founded by Itika Oldwine-Grimble. Her inspiration to launch her own company came while working under famed Los Angeles floral designer Eric Buterbaugh. After two years, she launched her business as a vessel for her own point of view on blooming creations with a modern twist.
  • New York, NiLu Gift StoreNiLu is a gift store in the heart of Harlem that is owned and operated by Katrina Parris Pinn and her husband Mark Pinn. Showcasing Black community, craft, and culture, the local gift store’s mission is predicated on purposeful giving featuring online and corporate gifting.
  • Phoenix, Straw & WoolStraw & Wool is a hat company owned by M Ali Nervis and Henry Dickerson, who noticed a gap in businesses in the Phoenix area. The shop is a destination for hat lovers and hat newbies alike with a variety of quality, affordable headwear and accessories.

Rolled out during and around the 2023 NBA Finals broadcasts were thirty second films highlighting each business’s story, which debuted across ESPN’s digital and social media channels, in addition to Andscape.

ESPN asked fans throughout the 2023 NBA Finals to use #ChampionBlackBusinesses across social channels with a call to action to shout out their favorite Black-owned businesses to help raise their profiles to national levels.

Each year, ESPN selects an HBCU Executive MBA program to partner with the businesses to strengthen their business acumen, identify businesses challenges they can counsel on and develop strategic plans to support their growth. This year, Virginia Union University, a member institution of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), served as a consultant for the businesses.

During 2023, ESPN and the CBB campaign were recognized for four industry awards including: 2022 Marcom Platinum Award (Strategic Communications & Public Relations/Corporate Responsibility), 2022 Cynopsis Best Social Good Awareness Campaign and Sports Media Award (Diversity Initiative), as well as the 2023 Global ACE Awards.