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Tom Brady and Steph Curry Among Stars Caught up in Crypto Drama

Sports teams welcomed the multi-million dollar partnerships in 2021 from cryptocurrency companies like FTX, an exchange to trade digital assets.

The abrupt downfall and the pending acquisition of FTX, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, by Binance on Nov. 8, leaves the future of those partnerships up in the air.

Investors have often been wary of companies purchasing naming rights to stadiums because of the large investment. Many of those those deals involving naming rights appear to be cursed and the companies who spent hundreds of millions of dollars wind up filing for bankruptcy protection later on.

Miami Heat Home Changed to FTX Arena

In 2021, FTX agreed to a 19-year deal to pay $135 million to change the name of the home of the NBA’s Miami Heat to FTX Arena. It had been named the American Airlines Arena since 1999 after it opened.

Crypto.com agreed in 2021 to a 20-year deal to commit $700 million to rename the former Staples Center, home of the L.A. Lakers, another NBA team.

Both deals were concluded before the crypto winter, the bear market in virtual currencies that wiped out billions of dollars in valuation.

Major League Baseball Partnership

FTX, which was founded in 2019 by Sam Bankman-Fried, invested and partnered with various sports teams, including Major League Baseball (MLB), only two years later, spending millions of dollars.  

In June 2021, MLB, which includes the 30 baseball teams in the U.S., chose FTX as its official cryptocurrency exchange brand in a five-year deal.

Ohtani Received Stake in FTX

Bankman-Fried’s sponsorship of major sports teams and athletes includes Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani, a double threat superstar as a pitcher and a hitter. He was chosen as FTX’s global ambassador last November. He received a stake in the company in return, the founder told CNN. 

Ohtani’s compensation was paid by an undisclosed ammout of equity in FTX and in cryptocurrency.

“He’s obviously one of the most electric players in all of sports right now,” Bankman-Fried, whose net worth was valued at $26.5 billion by Forbes in November 2021, told CNN….


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