DraftKings, a fantasy sports and sports betting company, has launched its new NFT marketplace today, ahead of the platform’s first drops this week, which will feature Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
In April, the seven-time Super Bowl champion co-founded Autograph, a sports-focused NFT company. Brady’s startup has since partnered with DraftKings for a series of NFT collectibles drops, which will be available beginning this week on both the DraftKings Marketplace and the Autograph.io website.
Brady will be the subject of two separate drops this week, the first of which will take place tomorrow, August 11. On August 13, an additional series of Brady NFTs with digitally signed athlete signatures will be released. The initial Brady NFTs will cost between $12 and $100 per piece, depending on design and rarity level, with signed NFTs costing between $250 and $1,500.
Following Brady, retired NHL legend Wayne Gretzky will lead the next drop, with collectibles from other top athletes on the way, including golfer Tiger Woods, tennis pro Naomi Osaka, skateboarding pioneer Tony Hawk, and retired New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. Each NFT is considered a “Preseason Access Pass,” giving buyers first dibs on a future Autograph NFT drop as well as access to a collector-only Discord server.
All of those athletes had previously been announced as members of Autograph’s advisory board. Apple SVP Eddy Cue, Spotify CCO Dawn Ostroff, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, and DraftKings co-founders Jason Robins, Paul Liberman, and Matt Kalish are among the company’s investors.
An NFT functions as a deed of ownership for almost any type of digital item, whether it is an animated or still image, a video file, a tokenized tweet, or an interactive video game collectible. According to DappRadar data, the NFT market surged to $2.5 billion in transaction volume in the first half of 2021, with the officially licensed NBA Top Shot platform making sports NFTs one of the largest segments of the burgeoning market.
Each DraftKings Marketplace NFT is created on Polygon, an Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution that reduces the impact of Ethereum’s on-chain fees and network congestion. DraftKings bills it as a “eco-friendly” process because most transactions are handled on a separate, less-energy-intensive blockchain that is separate from the Ethereum blockchain. Many other NFT collectibles are minted directly on Ethereum, which has been chastised during this year’s market boom for its power-hungry proof-of-work mining model.
DraftKings NFTs can initially be viewed on the site, but the platform will “eventually” provide the option to withdraw and transfer them to the Ethereum mainnet. Users will be able to sell them on secondary markets and potentially use them with other Ethereum-based projects and platforms as a result.
Brady has been active in the cryptocurrency space in recent months. Brady used the Bitcoin “laser eyes” meme on Twitter in May, following the announcement of Autograph in April, before announcing an investment in cryptocurrency exchange FTX with wife and supermodel Gisele Bündchen in June. FTX, on the other hand, has since announced its own sports-focused NFT marketplace that has no affiliation with Brady’s Autograph firm.
Brady stated in late June that he aspires to be a “pioneer” in the cryptocurrency industry. We’ll see if his first NFT drops, and indeed the first overall series of drops from his NFT startup, have the same kind of outsized impact that he’s known for in football.