DraftKings, a company that specializes in fantasy sports and sports betting, has announced the establishment of its own NFT marketplace.
The firm stated today that DraftKings Marketplace will begin later this summer and will be the only location to buy, sell, and trade NFTs from Autograph, the NFT site launched by football legend Tom Brady in April.
Autograph has recruited Tiger Woods, Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka, Wayne Gretzky, and Derek Jeter to its advisory board, which coincides with the DraftKings announcement. They join Apple SVP Eddy Cue, Spotify CCO Dawn Ostroff, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, and DraftKings cofounders Jason Robins, Matt Kalish, and Paul Liberman on the board of directors.
With a drop of new NFTs from Autograph, DraftKings will start its NFT site. While Autograph has yet to reveal which athletes will receive NFTs, its website already invites new users to “select who to watch,” and the options are Brady, Woods, Osaka, Jeter, Gretzky, Hawk, and Lionsgate, implying who Autograph’s first NFTs will feature. (Today, Autograph announced a relationship with Lionsgate for its entertainment NFTs, which will include films such as “John Wick,” “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” “Mad Men,” and “Dirty Dancing.”)
DraftKings president Matt Kalish said, “We will have an enormously gigantic audience unmatched by any marketplace now in the area.”
Indeed, according to DappRadar, DraftKings has 1.5 million monthly paying customers, compared to 174,000 total active traders on Axie Infinity, the top NFT site at the time. In the last month, NBA Top Shot had 136,000 traders, whereas OpenSea had only 51,000. The DraftKings Marketplace will be a separate section of the existing DraftKings site and app, and users will be able to pay in US dollars using the same wallet they use for DraftKings contests—a strategy used by Top Shot to attract traders who don’t want to worry about buying crypto and connecting to a browser wallet.
With Apple, DraftKings, and Spotify as executive advisors, Tom Brady is launching the NFC Platform. Autograph NFTs will be minted on an Ethereum Layer 2 sidechain, and DraftKings will add functionality to transfer their NFTs to the Ethereum blockchain by the end of the year, but Kalish says, “We think there will be little reason to do that, because the DraftKings Marketplace will have a tremendous amount of users, and usually what people want is a lot of eyeballs o
‘NFTs are a rapidly expanding market.’
DraftKings has been edging closer to embracing NFTs completely. It gave away a rare CryptoPunk NFT as a prize in a fantasy golf tournament in April, and a DraftKings board member acquired one for $11.8 million in June. To ring the opening bell at the Nasdaq, the whole DraftKings leadership team wore CryptoPunk t-shirts.
“I think we’ve proven that we can expand our brand and our relationship with our customers,” Kalish says of NFTs. “Everything we’ve noticed in the last year is that digital collectibles, starting with some of the early projects like CryptoPunks, but then more recent innovations like NBA Top shots coming to market, that these are taking heavy, heavy, heavy.
Why I Paid $11.8 Million for a CryptoPunk NFT on DraftKings Subsequently, the market frenzy peaked in April, and volume on all of the biggest markets has since declined considerably, Kalish knows that many have already proclaimed NFTs dead. “No, the market for NFTs is exploding,” he replies. “I think some people have pointed to specific initiatives that have gone up and down; there will undoubtedly be a lot of projects that don’t succeed, and others that will; I believe what the successful projects have in common is a very strong community.” DraftKings already has a sizable community with a high level of participation. People come every day, they play fantasy sports, and they wager on sports. The concept of maintaining attention and engagement is fundamental to DraftKings and everything we do.”
For the time being, users can only register a free Autograph account and then mint and tokenize their own username. However, the followers of Brady and the other sportsmen are sure to flood the site with registrations immediately away. “He is engaged, he is involved, and it’s been wonderful for the team and me to have his hand in this,” Autograph CEO Dillon Rosenblatt said of Brady’s engagement in the company. “He is the co-chairman of the company, and has helped with partnerships and directing the vision.”
Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen invested in crypto exchange FTX earlier this year, and Brady claimed in a June live chat with FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried that he wanted to be a “pioneer” in the field.