DraftKings Charts NFT Long-Game With Marketplace Debut

Sports betting site DraftKings is getting into the non-fungible token (NFT) game with an in-house NFT platform it unveiled Monday.

A collaboration with Tom Brady’s NFT side hustle, Autograph, the DraftKings Marketplace will begin “dropping” NFTs featuring the U.S. football Buccaneers quarterback on Wednesday. More athlete drops will closely follow, DraftKings said. The DraftKings-Autograph tie-up was first revealed last month.

The NFTs will be minted on an “eco-friendly Ethereum layer 2” that DraftKings declined to identify. The company said it recently acquired a Canadian NFT startup, Scarcity Labs, to assist in development. Representatives for that art-focused collective did not immediately comment. Brady’s Autograph appears to be built on Polygon.

The marketplace debut comes as the NFT craze roars back to life, sending deep-pocketed collectors and retail traders racing to trade billions of dollars of blockchain-registered images. Sports companies and athletes are also angling to get into the lucrative mix.

DraftKings is positioned to tap that energy with its 5.5 million-strong user base, said Joel Belfer, a former banking analyst for Guggenheim who writes about sports collectibles for industry newsletter Mint Condition.

“Offering NFTs on the same platform gives DraftKings an advantage: a large existing user base plugged into a platform they already trust, which can’t be overstated given how many new marketplaces are popping up,” he said.

Read more: Tom Brady’s NFT Platform Autograph Partners With Lionsgate and DraftKings

Turning that audience on to NFTs – and keeping them engaged – is a key focus of the marketplace rollout, according to DraftKings President Matt Kalish. 

Part of the strategy comes through offering the audience layered, long-term products. Debut NFTs from the “preseason access collection” will give buyers an early go at future drops from athletes including hockey great Wayne Gretzky, tennis star Naomi Osaka and others.

“Whether someone is well-versed or barely familiar with digital collectibles, we envision DraftKings Marketplace being a premier platform for all within a trend that is decidedly here to stay,” Kalish said in a statement.