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Tennis Is the Latest Sport to Attract the Crypto Sponsorship Dollar

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • Tennis champion Naomi Osaka has inked a deal with FTX.
  • The deal sees her receive an equity stake plus payment in crypto.
  • Concerns have been raised by those critical of celebrity crypto endorsements.
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Asia’s highest-ranking female tennis player has signed up to become a global ambassador for a crypto exchange.

Women’s Tennis Association number one Naomi Osaka has become a global ambassador for FTX and has been rewarded with an equity stake in the business.

FTX will display its branding on Osaka’s kit during the 2022 Miami Open and also pay her in digital currency. 

Osaka will also direct and produce special branded content for the exchange in a “long-term” contract. 

 “We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto in comparison [to men], which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said.

”Cryptocurrencies started with the goal of being accessible to everyone and breaking down barriers to entry. I’m excited to get back to that mission and to innovate on new ways to reach more people and further democratize the space,” she added.

Tennis star is one of a host of celebs to sponsor crypto exchanges

Osaka’s partnership is the latest in a string of celebrity crypto endorsement deals designed to pull more people into what was once a niche industry. 

Hollywood star Matt Damon starred in Crypto.com’s now-infamous “Fortune Favors the Brave” campaign. And NFL quarterback Tom Brady has vigorously promoted crypto on his social media. 

Last Sept, Brady also signed a deal with FTX to receive equity and crypto payments in exchange for promotional content. 

Osaka has contributed non-fungible tokens to Brady’s Autograph platform, together with hockey star Wayne Gretzky and golfing legend Tiger Woods.

But sponsorship raises questions about the ethics of using celebrities to promote risky speculative investment products without warning investors of the potential downsides. 

Ben McKenzie, star of The OC, has joined forces with journalist Jacob Silverman to dissect the ethics of celebrities earning money by endorsing speculative investment products. 

The findings will be published in a book, Easy Money, where McKenzie and Silverman will unveil the world of cryptocurrencies and their effects on beneficiaries and victims.

Easy Money is about two things – money and lying – and while I know a little about the former from my econ degree, it’s the latter that fascinates me,” said McKenzie, who earned an economics and foreign affairs degree from the University of Virginia. 

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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