Nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, have been a revolutionary force in the crypto, arts and sports industries, not only because of the financial liberation successful projects offer to creators but also their ability to bring art lovers closer to creators and bring athletes closer to their fans.
Prior to 2021 — and a few blockbuster sales from Beeple — NFT-based art was relatively obscure. And while OpenSea was in existence, the massive trading volumes seen in the last six months were unimaginable.
The success of Dapper Labs’ NBA TopShot NFTs proved that digital collectibles have wide-ranging appeal, and to date, more than $780 million in collectibles have been bought and sold on the platform. In late September, Dapper Labs raised an additional $250 million in funding, validating the fact that big businesses realize the marketing and sales potential of NFTs.
In the past three months, a number of musicians, famous artists, mega influencers and athletes have entered the space by either purchasing “blue chip” NFTs or launching their own projects on various platforms. Steph Curry and Shaquille O’Neal are just a few of a handful of professional athletes who recently changed their Twitter profile pictures to NFTs from projects like the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Creatures World NFT, and even Snoop Dog has revealed that he is an avid collector of rare NFT projects.
The trend of celebrities, businesses and athletes launching their own NFT platforms and unique drops looks set to accelerate, and this week Cointelegraph was able to steal a few minutes from O’Neal, known by most simply as Shaq, to ask him about his recent purchases and his planned entry to the space.
Cointelegraph: Shaq, you’re a savvy businessman with experience in a variety of sectors. What were a few of the things that attracted you to NFTs?
Shaq: In 2008, Twitter got my attention because the technology let me speak directly to my fans. NFTs are a part of the next wave of direct engagement. If you own one of my pieces, I can interact directly with you. What’s also cool is that my collectors can interact with communities of other collectors.
CT: CNBC recently quoted you as saying that you don’t invest in cryptocurrencies because “I don’t understand it.” Has your recent experience with NFTs helped to clear up some of the confusion about cryptocurrencies as investments and a medium of exchange?
Shaq: I’ve always approached new spaces by diving in headfirst. This NFT collection is my first step into the cryptoworld. That’s why I partnered with a digital artist like Justin, who’s showing me the ropes. I’m learning more every day.
CT: How do you think NFTs can help to better connect athletes with their fans?
Shaq: There are lots of ways to do it. Simply owning my NFTs is a way to share in my legacy. By owning one, you can own a Shaq item that no one else has. Airdrops and giveaways are a great thing, but nothing beats meeting up in real life, which is why I’ll be getting dinner with whoever buys my 1/1. I’ll also be meeting another collector at my Fun House event.
CT: In your opinion, what does the crypto sector need to do to make cryptocurrencies more understandable and accessible to the wider public and average investor?
Shaq: NFTs are a great way for people to wrap their heads around the technology. It’s how I’m doing it. People need to interact with crypto in a hands-on way to understand it.
Shaq’s NFT series is being hosted by Ethernity and occurs on Friday (Oct. 15). There will be five different NFTs that reflect various moments of his NBA career, and the prices will range from $50 to $20,000 in Ether (ETH), ERN (Ethernity’s native token) and credit card purchases through Banq.
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