NFL Ice Cube Football

FILE - Rapper Ice Cube, right, poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. The NFL is teaming up with Ice Cube. The league announced Thursday, June 30, 2022, a partnership with Contract with Black America Institute, an economic inclusion-focused initiative led by artist and entrepreneur O'Shea Jackson, who is known as Ice Cube.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The NFL is teaming up with Ice Cube.

The league announced Thursday that it is partnering with Contract with Black America Institute, an economic inclusion-focused initiative led by artist and entrepreneur O'Shea Jackson, who is known as Ice Cube.

"We feel like if you tackle the huge wealth gap between Black people and white people in this country, that should solve a lot of problems that's there," Ice Cube said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. "Our thing was to go after some of the biggest companies in the country that rely on Black consumers or Black workers, and the biggest one that we focused in on was the NFL."

The NFL has been working to increase economic equity and partnerships with Black-owned businesses. The partnership with Ice Cube's CWBA will focus on identifying league-wide opportunities in the financial, tech, and production sectors, with a concentration on increasing direct and indirect spending to national Black businesses to help close America's racial and economic wealth gap.

Ice Cube, his longtime business partner and entertainment lawyer Jeff Kwatinetz, and advisors Ja'Ron Smith and Chris Pilkerton started this initiative in 2020. They worked with Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, and presented the idea to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"It was cool connecting with somebody like Troy Vincent and really delivering our plan," Ice Cube said. "Roger Goodell jumped in with both feet saying, ‘Hey, we got to get this done. We have to make this happen.'"

Already, the NFL has spent and allocated $125 million with Black owned and operated businesses such as Ariel Investments, CityFirst/Broadway Bank, Cover Communications, and Fearless Technology during the last year.

"Our partnership with CWBA is another reminder that partnering with intentional organizations is critical to everything we do at the league," Goodell said in a statement. "Black businesses play a major role in our country's economic prosperity. We understand these businesses have not always had the opportunity for exponential growth, so we are pleased to have partners like Ice Cube and his organization, CWBA, in a continued, collective push toward greater economic inclusion."

Ice Cube said his group plans to pursue similar opportunities with other sports leagues and major companies.

"I'm glad the NFL stepped up," he said. "They're the biggest and most powerful and most influential to other Fortune 500 companies. So we want to get them to lead the charge. They've already allocated and spent up to $125 million. So we want we want that to turn into $500 million, maybe a billion and then move on to other leagues and hopefully other companies like Nike and the big boys and tell them to try to adopt the same thing."

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi

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