Crypto Branding Battle Heats Up As FTX And Crypto.com Ink Deals With Ohtani And Staples Center

Crypto Branding Battle Heats Up As FTX And Crypto.com Ink Deals With Ohtani And Staples Center

Goodbye, Staples; hello, Crypto.

Anschutz Entertainment Group announced today that it will rename the Staples Center—the Downtown Los Angeles home of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks—as Crypto.com Arena. The new deal, which takes effect December 25, ends a 22-year partnership with the office-supply retailer in favor of a 20-year deal with the cryptocurrency exchange.

“We’re very excited about partnering with AEG and investing long term in this city, starting with Crypto.com Arena in the heart of downtown, and using our platform in new and creative ways so that cryptocurrency can power the future of world-class sports, entertainment and technology for fans in LA and around the world,” Crypto.com cofounder and CEO Kris Marszalek said in a press release.

The deal came just over 12 hours after another LA icon, Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, signed his own partnership with crypto exchange FTX. Financial terms for both agreements were not disclosed. However, the Los Angeles Times and Axios report the total value of the Crypto.com deal could exceed $700 million.

The two pacts are the latest in a string of pricey agreements the two rivals have made at a combined cost of some $760 million, money that teams and leagues are eager to take as they try to recoup pandemic-driven revenue losses.

“I think it’s happening everywhere—more and more people are getting interested in crypto,” FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, the richest self-made newcomer in Forbes 400 history, wrote in an April email to Forbes. “But athletes are high profile and among the easiest to see.”

Bankman-Fried, the son of two Stanford Law professors and a graduate of MIT, first jumped into crypto in late 2017 after spotting a lucrative arbitrage opportunity. Two years later, he founded FTX in Hong Kong, and he eventually moved the headquarters to the Bahamas. The company has since become a leading exchange for buying and selling crypto derivatives. Marszalek founded crypto payment platform Monaco in 2016, before its rebranding as Crypto.com in 2018. The Singapore-based company boasts more than 10 million customers today.

In the past year, FTX has dropped at least $360 million on naming rights and endorsement deals, including this week’s signing of Ohtani, who multiple outlets report will be paid in cryptocurrency. It also has deals with Tom Brady and Stephen Curry as brand ambassadors, reportedly giving all three equity in the business. Additionally, FTX has naming rights deals with the Miami Heat, the UC Berkeley football team and esports organization TSM. Crypto.com has spent at least $400 million to land partnerships with the Philadelphia 76ers, Paris Saint-Germain, the Montreal Canadiens, esports team Fnatic, Major League Baseball, UFC, Formula 1, Serie A and the Twitch Rivals tournament, according to Forbes estimates.

And they’re not alone. Coinbase agreed to become the exclusive cryptocurrency platform partner of the NBA in October at an undisclosed price. Algorand, another platform, dropped $100 million on a five-year sponsorship of the Drone Racing League in September, according to CNBC.

“There’s a wide world out there,” Bankman-Fried told Forbes in October. “We shouldn’t think that crypto is going to be the most fertile ground to work in forever.”

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