Fantasy sports and sports betting firm DraftKings has launched its new NFT marketplace today ahead of this week’s first drops on the platform, which will feature Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion co-founded a sports-centric NFT company called Autograph in April. Brady’s startup has since partnered with DraftKings for a series of collectibles drops that will be available both through the DraftKings Marketplace and the Autograph.io website starting this week.
Brady himself is the subject of two separate drops happening this week, with the first taking place tomorrow, August 11. An additional series of Brady NFTs that are digitally signed by the athlete are set to follow on August 13. The initial Brady NFTs will range in price between $12 and $100 each, depending on design and rarity level, with the signed NFTs selling for between $250 and $1,500 apiece.
Retired NHL legend Wayne Gretzky will headline the next drop after Brady, with collectibles from other leading athletes on the horizon: golfer Tiger Woods, tennis pro Naomi Osaka, skateboarding pioneer Tony Hawk, and retired New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. Each NFT is deemed a “Preseason Access Pass” that will provide buyers preferential access to a future Autograph NFT drop, as well as entry into a private Discord server for collectors.
Those athletes were all previously announced as members of Autograph’s advisory board. The startup also features a number of titans of industry, such as Apple SVP Eddy Cue, Spotify CCO Dawn Ostroff, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, and DraftKings co-founders Jason Robins, Paul Liberman, and Matt Kalish.
An NFT acts like a deed of ownership to nearly any kind of digital item, be it an animated or still image, a video file, a tokenized tweet, or an interactive video game collectible. The NFT market surged to $2.5 billion in transaction volume in the first half of 2021, according to data from DappRadar, 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 minted on Polygon, a layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum that minimizes the impact of Ethereum’s on-chain fees and network congestion. DraftKings bills it as an “eco-friendly” process since most of the transactions are handled away from the Ethereum blockchain on a separate, less-energy-intensive blockchain. Many other NFT collectibles are minted directly on Ethereum, which has been criticized for its power-hungry proof-of-work mining model during this year’s market boom.
DraftKings NFTs can be viewed on the site itself initially, but the platform will “eventually” offer the option to withdraw and transfer them to the Ethereum mainnet. That will allow users to sell them on secondary marketplaces and potentially use them with other Ethereum-based projects and platforms.
Hmmmm should I change it?? https://t.co/w6VF35Ypgx
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 10, 2021
Brady has been making moves in the crypto space in recent months. Following the announcement of Autograph in April, Brady used the Bitcoin “laser eyes” meme on Twitter in May ahead of announcing an investment in cryptocurrency exchange FTX with wife and supermodel Gisele Bündchen in June. Interestingly, FTX has since announced its own sports-centric NFT marketplace that has no association with Brady’s Autograph firm.
Brady said in late June that he wants “to be a pioneer” in the crypto industry. We’ll see whether his first NFT drops, and indeed the first overall series of drops from his NFT startup, make the same kind of outsized impact that he’s known for in the football world.