Crypto and Athlete

Crypto and Athlete Endorsements: A Win-Win Partnership

Cryptocurrencies have become a mainstream financial tool and one that’s become a staple of some industries. This has led the crypto companies to market their services in new and bold ways. Among others, they’ve worked on building relationships with traditional brands.


Cryptos are endorsing many sports events and championships, and, in recent years, athletes directly. This article will delve into these partnerships and their implications. It’s safe to say now that athlete endorsements have proven to be a win-win for all parties and that they will continue in the years to come.

Endorsing Leagues and Franchises

Cryptocurrencies started their venture into the world of professional sports, similar to any other large company. They’ve endorsed leagues and big sports events in the form of sponsorships. Direct investment into the league or event allowed a cryptocurrency company to have its brand associated with it.

This has worked well with all the other big-name industries and businesspersons, and it’s also worked with crypto. It was also a chance to showcase that cryptocurrencies are legitimate businesses with enough money to throw their weight around huge events. Still, the move didn’t build on cryptos’ unique features.

Endorsing Sports Betting

The next big step was for the crypto companies to support large sports betting sites. The partnerships came naturally, allowing cryptos to take advantage of their unique branding features. For instance, if you bet online on NFL matches using a particular coin, you could get additional bonuses, deposit matches, or lower fees.

A great thing about this stage of endorsement was that it appealed to both the world of online betting and the wider world of professional sports. Cryptos were a way to bridge the two in a professional fashion while providing new features for the users.

Endorsing Athletes Directly

After a while, cryptocurrency coins started endorsing the athletes directly as a direct sponsorship. The world of professional sports is also one of strong wills and bold personalities, so the cryptos were looking to associate themselves with the players directly rather than just with events and tournaments.

A modern athlete is also a business person who manages PR and a complex team of agents and representatives. Being associated with a new and innovative venture such as cryptocurrencies has also proven to be a business-savvy move on their part.

Success Stories

As soon as Bitcoin and other digital currency companies started making deals with individual athletes, a few noticeable success stories emerged in the press. At first, it was just about pioneering the effort and being the first athlete to make such deals, but long-term ventures were also forged.

NFL Bitcoin Bonus

The NFL was the first major league to pay one of its biggest stars in Bitcoin. This is what happened with the quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was paid a signing bonus in Bitcoin in 2021. Interesting business opportunities came up right away as Lawrence made a deal with a crypto trading app to invest his signing bonus.

He announced a partnership with cryptocurrency investment app Blockfolio to place his $22.6 million signing bonus into an account with the company. Lawrence was also paid compensation from Blockfolio for this endorsement, so it was also a brand deal in way.

Sports Academy Supported by Cryptocurrency

The football academy in Acopiara, Brazil was built to be the center for developing and training young athletes. Bitcoin started with ambitious plans, stating that:

The academy will include state-of-the-art football fields, training facilities, hotels for players and coaches, and classrooms at the school. The project turns out to be large-scale, so it was decided to expand the territory by 30 hectares, allowing us to realize all our plans.

NBA and NFT Collaborations

The NBA was among the first to come up with creative and innovative endorsement ventures involving crypto. Among other things, the league worked on creating NFT collections powered by blockchain for many of its teams and players.


NBA Top Shot, produced by Dapper Labs, was the NBA and NBAPA’s first foray into NFTs. NBA Top Shot allows basketball fans to buy, sell, and trade basketball video clips called Moments. A “starter” pack was available 9.

Getting Paid in Crypto

Several professional athletes also have deals to pay a portion of their regular salaries in crypto. This isn’t an endorsement like others on our list, but it shows that individual athletes have a special relationship with cryptocurrencies. These deals are happening in different leagues and aren’t always advertised by the league.

Aaron Rogers

On November 21, 2021, Rogers posted a tweet explaining that he had partnered with Square’s CashApp to convert an undisclosed portion of his 2021 salary to Bitcoin (BTC).

Odell Beckham Jr.

On November 22, 2021, LA Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted that he would be partnering with CashApp to receive his new full salary in Bitcoin. Like Aaron Rogers, his total salary is undisclosed.

Saquon Barkley

Joe Pompliano and The Street report that Saquon Barkley will be taking $10 million worth of endorsement money via Bitcoin.

Klay Thompson

Thompson told his Twitter followers that he was taking a part of his paycheck in Bitcoin because he believes it is “the future of money.”

Shohei Ohtani reports that hitting and pitching superstar Shohei “Showtime” Ohtani has joined FTX Trading Ltd. as a global ambassador. He will be compensated with crypto along with an equity stake in the crypto company.

Why Are Some Athletes Apprehensive?

Some athletes are not ready to take this step and get into an endorsement deal with a crypto company, even now when cryptos are more common and popular than before. There are plenty of reasons why this is the case. Being an athlete is a business; many businesses are risk-averse, which drives them away from crypto.

The value of cryptocurrencies is also volatile, and even though Bitcoin has been growing in the long run, it has gone through ups and downs. Some athletes aren’t wild about their personal brand being associated with such an asset.

The Shape of Things to Come

The public approach towards crypto has already changed a lot. Companies have found many ways to get into deals with traditional financial institutions and businesses, including athletes and major sports leagues. This trend will continue in the future, with more teams and athletes getting on board.

With the intensified interest, regulatory agencies will take a more strict approach to crypto. This shows how mainstream cryptos are now, but it also may be a disappointment to those who have been there from the ground up. The initial appeal was that it was an alternative to traditional and conservative businesses.


Many cryptocurrency companies are supporting athletes by providing public endorsements and brand deals. Some of these are the same sponsorships an athlete may get from a traditional company. Others take advantage of the unique features cryptocurrency and blockchain provide. There are also many top-tier athletes paid in crypto.

This trend is going to continue in the years to come as cryptocurrencies are becoming more widely used and accepted by the general public. It will also cost them some appeal in the process, as they are no longer new and innovative.


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