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Cryptocurrency In Sports

Nov 29, 2022
7 min read

This blog post will cover:

  • Crypto and sports: a symbiotic relationship
  • Crypto and sports partnerships: gathering steam while creating revenue streams
  • The future of cryptocurrency in sports

Cryptocurrency sponsorships are booming in the world of sports advertising, and for a good reason: crypto opens up a universe of added value and potential revenue streams for the leagues, their franchises, and athletes across the globe. 

This enables them to connect with crypto-savvy audiences, particularly the massive Gen Z and millennial demographic, which jointly represent the largest segment in the United States – comprising approximately half of the country’s population. It’s a win-win proposition for both sports and crypto.

Crypto and sports: a symbiotic relationship

There’s probably no better vertical for brands to get exposure than aligning themselves with world-renowned sporting properties transmitting their value proposition and brand message directly to a massive swathe of the demographic that follows sports.

At the same time, drawing new followers is paramount for leagues and franchises to secure long-term profitability, marketability, and survival – especially for mobile-and-crypto-first Gen Z and millennial audiences. They create, consume, and proliferate content. They are among the biggest believers and participants in crypto. They have a native understanding of the digital realms as big gaming fans.

The sports industry teaming up with crypto is a message to the Gen Z and the millennial crowd that they are in on the “in thing” with them. Sports leagues and their respective franchises aligning their corporate strategy with crypto allows them to onboard the next generation of fans that will serve as the lifeblood of their future success.

This reality isn’t lost on the sportsmen making hundreds of millions hand over fist seeking to extend their personal brands into the crypto space. Professional athletes are launching social tokens, NFTs, while brokering partnerships, sponsorships, and endorsements with crypto firms left and right.

On the other hand, crypto and web3 players gain more exposure to literally billions of sports fans, allowing them to draw in new customers, legitimize their status in the business, gain trust, and build loyalty incrementally. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

Crypto and sports partnerships: gathering steam while creating revenue streams

Partnering with cryptocurrency players has allowed sports leagues to soften the blow of losses driven by the pandemic by opening up revenue streams. In doing so, it has virtually established a new sponsorship class that barely existed just a couple of years ago.

For instance, MMA promotion UFC recently signed a deal with industry giant for a cool $175 million, allowing the latter to display its logos on competitors’ apparel. This is on the heels of the Singapore-based crypto company signing a $100 million sponsorship with Liberty Media-owned Formula One. That’s not to mention the multimillion-dollar deal signed to rename the Los Angeles Lakers home arena last December 2021.

On the other hand, cryptocurrency exchange FTX partnered with Major League Baseball that would see the former’s logo on umpire uniforms. The exchange also acquired the naming rights to the former American Airlines Arena – the home of the NBA’s Miami Heat – for the next 19 years at a hefty $135 million price tag.

We’ve also seen Switzerland-based crypto firm Socios partner with a host of soccer teams like Inter Milan, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Juventus, and Barcelona, just to name a few – and more and more players are getting into the act, with some receiving all or part of their compensation in cryptocurrencies, or otherwise partnering with crypto firms worldwide. Here are among some of the most recognizable sports figures in crypto right now:

  1. Usain Bolt. The Fastest Man Alive is now taking his talents to the crypto space by partnering with Step App, a move-to-earn NFT platform, to increase its adoption and user base. Bolt also worked with Autograph to launch his own line of NFTs.
  2. Klay Thompson. Golden State Warriors stalwart, four-time NBA champion, and 5-time All-Star Klay Thompson is taking a portion of his $32.7 million annual paycheck in Bitcoin, besides promoting crypto-friendly mobile payment platform Cash App.
  3. Andre Iguodala. Like his teammate Klay Thompson, former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala also agreed to take part of his salary in Bitcoin and partnered with Cash App. He is also putting out a $1 million Bitcoin reward to fans to promote Bitcoin.
  4. Odell Beckham Jr. Multi-awarded NFL wide receiver and Super Bowl winner Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted last November 2021 that he would be converting his $750,000 salary into Bitcoin as part of his deal with Jack Dorsey’s payments platform, Cash App.
  5. Shohei Ohtani. Los Angeles Angels and MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani is partnering with FTX as one of its global ambassadors. In return, the Japanese phenom was given an equity stake in the company, apart from receiving a portion of his compensation in cryptocurrency.`
  6. Aaron Rodgers. Iconic Green Bay Packers quarterback, four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, and Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers is yet another athlete partnering with former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Cash App, converting a portion of his $33.5 million salary into Bitcoin.
  7. Cade Cunningham. The NBA’s first overall draft pick of 2021 and NCAA All-American selection, Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham partnered with New Jersey-based crypto exchange platform BlockFi as an ambassador, being signed to an exclusive, long-term agreement with the company. BlockFi is paying a part of his multimillion-dollar contract with a matching signing bonus in cryptocurrency.

The future of cryptocurrency in sports

The genie is out of the bottle, and the toothpaste is out of the tube. Cryptocurrency and its impact across industries are probably here to stay as a vital cog in the big machine that is finance, if not change it entirely. The halcyon days of crypto firms in sports will continue, with leagues, franchises, and players adopting blockchain-based solutions like NFTs to further expand their brand and tap into new markets and demographics. It will definitely help generate income for the industry involved. Crypto and sports are a symbiotic, logical match, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

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