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Crypto platform FTX will pay Golden State Warriors $10 million for global rights

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Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors brings the ball up court during the second half of a game won by the Utah Jazz 129-99 at Vivint Smart Home Arena on January 30, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Gene Sweeney Jr. | Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have agreed to an international rights sponsorship with crypto platform FTX.

Deal terms were not made public, but people familiar with the agreement told CNBC it’s a multiyear pact valued north of $10 million total. The people discussed the deal on the condition of remaining anonymous as they aren’t authorized to discuss contract specifics. It’s the first global deal for the $5.6 billion Golden State Warriors.

FTX, worth about $25 billion, is one of the world’s largest digital currency exchanges and competes with the likes of Coinbase, Binance and Kraken.

“FTX is a company that caught our eyes a couple of months ago,” Warrior president and chief operating officer Brandon Schneider said in an interview with CNBC. “We think we’re at the beginning of the beginning. We’re all learning, and this space will evolve quite a bit,” Schneider added.

It’s the latest such agreement for FTX, which has an umpire jersey deal with Major League Baseball. It also took over naming rights to the Miami Heat arena in a deal reportedly valued at $135 million over 19 years.

“We think they’re a market leader headed in the right direction,” Schneider said of FTX.

The NBA started to allow clubs to leverage international agreements in 2019 in an effort to expand its global footprint.

Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and chief executive officer of FTX, in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

Lam Yik | Bloomberg | Getty Images

FTX gets brand placement with the Warriors’ G League club and the NBA 2K esports team, in-arena signage at Chase Center, and obtains the team’s non-fungible tokens (NFTs) rights.

FTX will also get virtual floor inventory on Warriors regional sports network games. The digital logos are shown on TV during local and national NBA games, resembling actual floor signage. Industry insiders suggest that virtual ads solicit roughly $15,000 per quarter.

Most Warriors games air on an RSN property owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

Another dot-com sports bubble?

Crypto companies have aggressively sought sports sponsorships in 2021, and the NBA has welcomed the attention.

Coinbase’s logo is displayed in NBA arenas during ESPN and Turner Sports national games. People familiar with that deal told CNBC it’s worth $192 million over four years.

The Los Angeles Lakers renamed Staples Center to Crypto.com Arena in a $700 million deal. And the Portland Trail Blazers landed the league’s first crypto jersey patch with StormX in July.

Organizations like the National Football League remain cautious about the crypto space, and there are rumblings crypto deals resemble the sports sponsorship bubble involving dot-coms.

During that era, as the internet evolved, tech companies poured money into sports sponsorships to gain brand awareness. The NFL knows the period well. Companies like CMGI and PSINet had club deals before losing much of their early fortunes.

“I see similarities of the behavior on the front end of a bubble,” said Peter Laatz, global managing director at sponsorship valuation firm IEG. “The behaviors of the rush-to-spend and the influx of cash coming in with naming rights at a league-wide level with still some consumer confusion about what the product is – it’s very similar to the dot-com bubble.”

Schneider said the comparisons to the dot-com bust were fair.

“If this is what it is… then this is really the beginning because the dot-com boom was kind of the beginning of the internet as we know it. All of these companies are early in their journey.”

A ‘Buy Bitcoin Here’ sign is posted at a 7-Eleven store on November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Warriors giving back in bitcoin

The Warriors and FTX also collaborated to donate one bitcoin to three local nonprofit organizations that address educational equity, including Self-eSTEM, Mission Bit and Techbridge Girls.

“The community supports us so much, and we want to give that back,” Schneider said.

The deal comes as the franchise reemerges during the NBA’s 75th Anniversary season. The Warriors have one of the best winning records this season and their superstar Stephen Curry is putting on a show.

Curry is close to breaking Ray Allen’s record for most three-pointers. Allen leads with 2,973 three-pointers, and Curry is just two away from overtaking him.

CNBC’s Ryan Browne contributed to this article.

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