As investors, observers and government officials sort through this week’s stunning implosion of FTX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, the Miami Heat on Friday announced plans to end its relationship with the firm and rename its home venue, FTX Arena.
FTX on Friday announced its plans to file for bankruptcy, with CEO Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down in the wake of a trading scandal that has embroiled the firm in regulatory inquiries. The news shook the cryptocurrency world, leaving questions for stakeholders looking to recover their money.
Sports fans may recognize FTX from its logo on MLB umpires’ shirts or the wing of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One Mercedes. The Golden State Warriors have a deal for FTX to be the club’s official cryptocurrency platform and NFT marketplace, and the firm was less than two years into its 19-year, $135 million arena naming rights deal with the Heat.
Such efforts, meant to boost consumers’ faith in the crypto industry, have become increasingly prevalent in the sports world.
The Los Angeles arena shared by the Clippers and Lakers was renamed Crypto.com Arena last year. The Sacramento Kings in 2018 started mining cryptocurrency in their arena, and an increasing number of organizations, including the Washington Capitals, have offered limited non-fungible token collections.
FTX also has partnerships with athletes, including NFL star Tom Brady, who appeared in ads for the platform. FTX in March inked tennis star Naomi Osaka to a long-term deal in a bid to draw more women onto its crypto platform. MLB star Shohei Ohtani is almost a full year into his FTX partnership, which called for the company to make annual contributions to Ohtani’s preferred charities.
All three received equity stakes in the company and were slated to receive compensation in cryptocurrency.